By Kate Quick, EHSG Ambassador
If you have ever spent some time in the Career Center, you might know what it means to have a Career Toolkit. This is the professional portfolio that shows off your qualifications and guides your job search process. Included in this toolkit are your brand statement, an elevator pitch, a polished resume, an active LinkedIn, a method to write cover letters, and knowledge of how and where to search for a job or internship.
All these things are essential for a successful transition into a job. However, many students forget the first tool in the toolkit: your brand statement. This is a summary of your attributes, including your experience, background, skills, and passions that make you the unique YOU that you are.
Resumes, cover letters, networking profiles, and interview practice cannot come to fruition without self-exploration and a holistic view of yourself. Career success is almost impossible to achieve without understanding who you are and what you desire in your career. What do you value? What interests you? How do you interact with the world? What are you good at? If you struggle to articulate these things, how can an employer be convinced that you are the right fit for the company or role?
We realize how daunting this may sound, but self-exploration occurs more than you might realize. College is a stressful time. It is filled with deadlines, identity transitions, homesickness, and figuring out what you want to be when you grow up. You are managing assignments, extracurriculars, social events, personal relationships, and employment. Every part-time job, club, organization, social event, hobby, and class have contributed to this self-exploration. What made you join that student organization? What class has been your best grade so far? Worst grade? Do you prefer class in the morning or the afternoon? What do you do for fun on the weekends? Who do you tend to spend the most time with?
All these questions and more lead you to answer your VIPS, or in other words, your Values, Interests, Personality, and Skills.
Values define what is important to you. This might be having a high salary, having a job that allows you to prioritize family, being able to travel, working with kids, and much more. What will matter to you the most with a certain role?
Interests are simple as they sound: What interests you? How do you want to invest your time and energy? What type of work attracts you? Helping others? Crunching numbers? Being a leader? Creating? To learn more about what interests you, take this interest profile quiz.
Personality defines who you are- how you interact with others, your preferences and styles, your unique traits that distinguish you from others, and the environments that suit you best. When you think of yourself in a working environment, what type of culture will you thrive in? What type of interactions do you hope to create with coworkers?
Skills include the knowledge and talents that you have. What educational background do you have? What certifications do you hold? What skills have you developed in various roles that can be applied to a career?
Your VIPS are dynamic. They may change over time and shift as you develop, but the important thing is that you continually reflect and consider these in the context of your career. In addition to knowing your VIPS, we recommend looking at American professor, John Holland’s, Theory of Career Choice. This theory supports the idea that values, personality traits, interests, and skills affect career success and fulfillment. When choosing a career, individuals prefer jobs around others who are like them. They will seek out environments that allow them to use their skills and abilities and express their attitudes and values, while taking on enjoyable tasks and roles. The theory describes six personality traits- Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional. You can take the inventory and determine the three that are the highest representation of you, which is your Holland Code. Below is a visualization of the six different personality types.
After you have determined your Holland Code, you can explore career options that utilize these three main personality types. Maybe you feel that you are equally artistic and conventional, but you are not sure what job needs both personality types. To assess career outcomes that incorporate your personality types, use this tool. Many occupations need a mix of personalities.
By assessing both your VIPs and Holland Code, it can lead to understanding your brand. By knowing your brand, you have an idea of who you are as an employee and what will provide you the most success in your career- however you define it.
Knowing your brand allows you to be your own advocate. Future outcomes like an unfulfilling job, being overqualified for a role, working in a toxic work culture or environment, role ambiguity or confusion can be reduced through taking the time to reflect on your needs, values, and expectations, create goals, and find a healthy work-life balance for you.
Knowing your brand gives you an opportunity to speak on all the things that make you unique and attractive as a job candidate. When an employer asks, “why you?”, you already have the answer.
Feeling lost and don’t know where to start? DePaul’s Career Center, your professors, and your budding professional network are your trusty sidekick in this adventure. We’ll show you how to find your guiding star, from sharpening your pitch to finding internships and building a killer network.
Book an appointment with Kate Quick, or another member of the advising community through Handshake, or by calling the front desk at (773) 325-7431.