Landing a job takes more than just experience, a winning CV and a cover letter. To get your application to the top of the pile, you need to know yourself — and what you’re good at, your passions and ideal working environment. In other words, you need to be self-aware to articulate to a recruiter exactly why they should hire you, and not someone else.
“Being self-aware is like knowing your own personal brand. It’s about knowing your values, your emotions, your habits, your strengths and weaknesses,” says Emma-Louise O’Brien, head of career coaching at Renovo, an outplacement support specialist.
“Throughout the application process, you need to be aware of how you are perceived by others as, ultimately, it can impact whether you secure a position.”
Being self-aware isn’t as easy as it sounds, particularly when there is so much else to think about when job hunting. But there are steps you can take to develop self-awareness.
Understand what your CV says about you
Showing self-awareness in a resume is about understanding how your experiences, skills and qualifications fit the role you are applying for. It’s all very well having an impressive CV, but it’s unlikely to be helpful if it’s not relevant to the job vacancy.
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“Ultimately, you can show self-awareness in your CV by tailoring it to every role you apply for,” O’Brien says. “If you don’t, you are likely to show yourself as someone who takes the easy route, isn’t organised, isn’t detail orientated and doesn’t take the application process seriously.”
Be aware of attitude
Showing a negative attitude will not only lessen your chances of securing a role but of being put forward for different positions by recruiters.
If necessary, work on displaying positive attitudes in CV’s, in correspondence with hiring managers and recruiters and even on personal social media channels. Displaying negative attitudes about job searches on social media, for example, may impact a recruiter’s willingness to present you to a company they’re representing.
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Assess appropriate written language
It’s important to check the tone of your CV, cover letter and any email correspondence between you and your potential employer.
“Language can be understood differently when it’s written down, opposed to spoken,” O’Brien says. “Accordingly, some phrases that are amicable in verbal communication may be inappropriate in an email or on paper. Carefully assess the connotations of your writing in applications.”
Assess what your communication skills say about you
If you get to the interview stage, you will likely be assessed on your skills and experience as well as how you come across in general. Verbal and body language in interviews can reveal a lot about whether you’ll fit into a team.
“For example, overly gesticulating can be distracting and unhelpful in interview situations,” O’Brien says. “Consider how you appear in different interview settings. Telephone interviews are different from video calls and you may feel more comfortable in one form or the other.
“Often, candidates are better at self-reflecting after an interview as they are able to assess how well prepared they were for the situation,” she adds. “However, being able to identify how well you perform in these situations, prior to interviews, is a critical skill that will help you understand how to impress hiring managers.”
Ask for feedback
“Self-evaluation and receiving feedback from others will improve levels of self-awareness. Although many people don’t practise doing interviews, it’s a good idea to do it,” O’Brien says.
“Recording practise attempts and critiquing them can then help you evaluate your performance. If it’s difficult to be self-critical, gain feedback from others — family or friends can give advice, or a career coach can offer objective feedback.”
And perhaps most importantly, you should take note of your strengths and weaknesses. “Having this awareness means you can work on your weaknesses and seek to improve whatever may be necessary,” O’Brien says.