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During your career development, there comes a point where your leadership skills will be put to test. Technical skills are obviously important because they will get you to a position where you may have to start utilizing your soft skills. This is the exact reason why leadership skills are considered a very important attribute that can help you to climb the career ladder.

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Who do you want to be? Not what, but who? Related: 5 Steps To Finding Your Work Passion From the moment we entered grade school, we've been trained to think of ourselves as a 'what.' In Kindergarten, our teachers asked us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?" We'd respond with, “A firefighter, a policeman, a princess." Society got it wrong.

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So, tell me, what is your passion? Most graduates don’t have an answer ready, and that’s perfectly fine. SIGN UP: Introducing The Happy Grad Project For now, take on a broader perspective in order to strategically build your career: Focus on gaining self-knowledge. Why? First of all, it will increase your chances of getting hired because it will be much easier to brand yourself. If you don’t know what you have to offer, the recruiter won’t either.
If you don’t know what you have to offer, the recruiter won’t either.
Second, if you really know yourself, it’s easier to make the right career choices. About 35% of all graduates leave their first job within a year. And that’s simply because they have made career choices that didn’t suit their personality. For most people, passion is something that develops over time as they progress in your career. Choosing what you like (‘good enough’) and what suits you, is often a less stressful and more effective strategy. Exploring these three core questions will help you to expand your self-knowledge and make well-founded career choices:

1. What kind of person are you? Your opinions, norms and values.

If you’d be asked this question, what would you answer? Are you helpful, a perfectionist, relationship focused, oppositional? A test that can help you to answer this question is The Personal Profile Test, which measures six dimensions:
  • Likes company OR Likes to be alone
  • Likes routine OR Is flexible
  • Relaxed OR Tense
  • Shy OR Confident
  • Follower OR Leader
  • Organized OR Disorganized
Thinking about this question helps you to determine what work environment suits you.

2. What are you good at? Your knowledge and skills.

The importance of knowing your strengths is obvious. Knowing your points of improvement is just as important, since recruiters look for self-reflection skills as an indicator of future growth. To gain better insight on your strengths and weaknesses, you can use the core quadrant of Daniel Ofman. This tool helps you to find out what your strengths, challenges, pitfalls, and allergies are. Second, you can examine your past achievements. Describe at least three achievements you are proud of at your study, work, internship, hobby, club, and so on. For each achievement, write down what makes you proud and what qualities you used to make this achievement happen. The qualities you uncover by doing this exercise together summarize what it is you excel in. You can talk about these achievements at a job interview when proving you possess certain skills.

3. What do you want? Your motives and driving forces.

Just because you're good at something doesn’t mean you should go do it. You should find it pleasurable. Examine what exactly you’re looking for in your career. You might come up with an abstract answer when describing your passion. Instead, let’s try to compose a detailed, targeted job description. First, you can think about your career anchors. These are quite stable over time and represent your true self. Which one characterizes you?
  • GROWTH: Advancing in a hierarchical and/or status sensitive organization.
  • SECURITY: Long and permanent employment, recognition, and appreciation by the employer.
  • FREEDOM: Emphasis is more on acquiring personal autonomy, freedom, and responsibility to achieve results and less on security and fixed rules.
  • BALANCE: Seek an optimal balance between work, private life, and self-development. Work is just one dimension of overall life fulfillment.
  • CHALLENGE: The need for excitement and challenge and a strong commitment to your job. Trying to come close to action, adventure, and creativity and having a hard time leaving work.
Next, write down what you’re looking for in your career as detailed as possible. Think about whether you would like to work at a small or big company, whether you are looking for a strong hierarchical top down structure or a more flat structure, and so on. Also think about the company culture, your colleagues, and anything else you feel is important to you. Make a list of all your preferences and come up with a "Top 7" in order to focus your job hunt. Use these important preferences to come up with a target job description. This exercise will help you to find the right job faster and more effectively. Job hunting is something they don’t teach you in school, unfortunately. If you’re interested in more practical graduate job hunt advice, visit our Online Training. It provides validated tests to answer the three core questions discussed above. The goal of the program is to speed up and simplify your job search. Using this strategic approach discussed above doesn’t rule out intuition or passion. It’s about getting closer towards your dream job instead of dreaming about it.

Your turn

Of course there’s much more to say about this topic, so do share your thoughts and perspectives! This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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1. “Passion” is a very broad word. Each of us chooses to define as we will.

It may vary from “work that gets me excited” to “this is why I believe I was placed on this earth.” When we are talking with someone about this subject, each of us may think we know what the other means. But often we are wrong. If we use it, we need to define what we mean by it.

2. “My passion” is related to, and dependent upon, self-knowledge.

Show teenagers, for example, a list of possible careers, and ask them which ones they feel any passion for, and they are liable to answer “None.” Come to that same person ten or fifteen years later, and they have gained in knowledge of the world of work. More importantly they have gained in knowledge of themselves. Now they know, from experience, exactly what they like or don’t like. We, who are trying to help, may speed up that process by asking them to do a self-inventory. At any age. Typically, they will want a template for doing such an inventory.

3. “Passion” has seven parts to it.

The most helpful self-inventories always turn out to be those that correspond to the parts of a job. That is to say, every job has seven parts to it: it requires certain skills (do), certain knowledge (know), certain goals (reach), certain people environments (surround), certain working conditions (enable), certain locations (find), and a certain level of responsibility (chart). Thus, a helpful self-inventory covers all these parts: what do you most love to do, what do you most love knowing, what are you most trying to reach, who are you most trying to surround yourself with, what most enables you to do your best work, where do you find such places, and what project, plan, or challenge, do you most want to help chart? One example of a seven-part inventory is chapter five in the current edition (2013) of What Color Is Your Parachute? However, there are shorter inventories (on O*NET, for example) that omit some of these seven parts of one’s passion.

4. “Passion” is found in an overlap of your present work (with only some of the seven parts).

For example, if I find a place where I am surrounded with the kinds of people I most love to work with, using the knowledge I most love to use, and tackling the challenge or problem I would most love to solve, I may feel I have found my passion in life. But if, as time goes on, there's more of an overlap of my work with all seven parts of me, I will more and more feel I have found my passion in life.

5. Taking time to define your passion in all seven of its parts increases your awareness of the missing parts when you do stumble over them.

Doing a self-inventory of these seven parts increases what you're listening for, even if your current job is only a partial overlap.

6. “Passion” is energy.

The more you find your true passion in life, the more energy you will feel when you're at work. Thus, as we grow older, and our physical energy begins to diminish, it becomes all the more important to replace it with the energy that comes from having found our passion.

7. Finding your “Passion” in life is only a means to an end; the end should be com-passion.

Defining your passion in life is not a sufficient goal for any life. That can be very selfish and inwardly-directed. This makes me excited; this makes me happy. So what? Let us suppose you were out of work for two years before you finally found meaningful work. What does that leave you with? A hope you will never go through such a period again? Yes. But is that all? Let us say you have now arrived in some function where you need to hire people. Do you reach out and go the extra mile, now, to help someone who has been out of work for two years? Or do you turn them down, and say, "Sorry, we don’t hire people out of work as long as you’ve been"? You haven't grown until you have wrung every bit of compassion out of your own experience and used it to feel and show empathy toward someone in a similar predicament. Compassion, to find and feel our ties to all other human beings, should be our real passion in life. Passion; does it teach you compassion? That's the acid test of any life. Copyright © 2013 by What Color Is Your Parachute

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