Mary Beth Barrett-Newman is President of 2nd Career Consulting, She spent almost 30 years in the corporate world and brings her experience, expertise and enthusiasm as she coaches clients on their journey to a new position. Mary Beth is a frequent contributor to the iRelaunch blog and podcast and is a moderator of the iRelaunch Return to Work Forum on Facebook.
Labels…we all have them. Some are assigned as a result of who we are to others – parent, spouse, friend, colleague. Some, we assign to ourselves – both positive and negative.
Having observed many clients on their relaunch journey, one of the things I’ve noticed is how often there is a reawakening to the strengths, qualities and attributes they’ve taken for granted and often don’t realize the applicability of these strengths to the characteristics employers are looking for in a new hire.
So how do these relaunchers do this? It’s all about doing some (positive) self-reflection, gaining insights from others, finding the common threads and as a result regaining confidence. Instead of focusing on what is missing, they start focusing on the strengths they bring to everyday activities and interactions.
Are you the person that figures things out? Do others come to you to help solve problems? Do you instinctively start researching on your own before asking for help? Do you embrace new ideas and figure out how to use new technology?
Do you get others involved? Do you see what’s needed on a project and find people with the right backgrounds and expertise to participate in that PTA project or nonprofit fundraiser? Do you keep the team motivated when things get tough? Do you love working with others toward a common goal?
Do you help resolve conflict among members of a group? Do you help people find common ground vs. differences? Are you able to help others step back and see the bigger picture in order to accomplish a goal? Do you focus on a win-win philosophy? Do you strive for compromise in negotiating decisions?
Do you ever bring a different approach to a project or problem? Do you suggest doing something that the organization hasn’t done or tried before? Are you the person that others invite to brainstorm ideas with them?
So how do these relaunchers have this reawakening? There are typically two parts to this discovery process. The first is to do some self-reflection and the second is to enlist the help of others.
Start making a list of things you’ve accomplished during your career break. These don’t need to be major accomplishments. The list can include classes you took or certifications you received. This list can also include things like navigating the education system to get your child the extra academic help she needed, gathering historical information and documenting protocols into a handbook for new members of a group, creating a neighborhood help list for someone in need. Someone in my community started a “shop local” Facebook group right before the holidays to support local businesses hurt during the pandemic. It has continued well past the holidays and now has 5000 very involved members and a very grateful local business community.
Since others can sometimes see us more clearly than we can see ourselves, talk to people you’ve worked with both during your career break and before. What do they see as your strengths? What projects do they recall accomplishing with you? What did they value in the work you did together?
Labels can hold us back or propel us forward. Take that step back and find those labels that will help you promote your strengths to future employers.