2. Building a positive image

Identifying your assets.

Step 2 is very important because it is where you do all the groundwork and the better you do this step the easier you will find it to create your personal brand in Step 3.

It is not just about having lots of great exam results, there are many other qualities that are important in the world and this is your chance to think about all your assets, all the good things about you that otherwise might be missed. So, think widely.

Identifying your talents, skills, strengths and achievements will help you work out how they will help to achieve your end goal. You need to be clear about what you have got going for you and how closely that matches up with your desired career goals. Understanding this will not only help you focus on the right messages but will also highlight any gaps that you need to address.

By the end of the step, when you have completed Worksheet 2, you will have a long list of both your objective and subjective talents and achievements and an analysis of who you are targeting, what they are looking for and how your offer measures up.

This is the precursor to putting everything together and creating your personal brand definition in Step 3 – it is the all-important groundwork.

Your talents, skills and strengths

This section should be comprehensive. Of course your official achievements, such as your exam results, are important but in order to stand out you need to be more creative than that. You will need to think of all your talents and skills as there will be plenty of people with a top degree or outstanding ‘A’ Levels and you need to make sure that you have the edge on them.

It can be quite hard thinking of every positive feature of your offer all at once and this is where Worksheet 2 will help you as it is divided into two sections. The first part is where you should be as expansive as possible and think as creatively as you can about what makes you happy, what you are good at and what you have done in any aspect of your life which you are proud of.

Whilst the section does of course provide you with the space to record your measured successes, it should also get you thinking about your ‘softer’ talents and skills – these are very important because they will often be the factors that distinguish you from other equally (or even better) qualified applicants. The second section of the worksheet is where you fine tune your answers and use your initial brainstorm to outline all your achievements.

You have a lot going for you, you just need to list it out

All the information you gather here will help you create your best possible version of WhyMe?, so be expansive, it will get your mind whirring and it is always easier to cut down than to add. Now it’s time to start thinking about all the good things associated with you.

Start with the first three questions on the worksheet:

  • what do you enjoy doing / what makes you happy? (we tend to be better at the things we like doing)
  • what do you think you are good at?
  • what are your proudest moments?

You can be as wild and comprehensive as you like in your answers to these questions – they are really there to help you think about your positive qualities, talents and skills in as broad a sense as possible. They are the planning stage to the answers you will crystallise in questions 4 & 5 when you outline your achievements.

In truth, if you are as expansive as possible in thinking about these first three questions and compile a long list, answering the final two questions will be easy – it will just be a matter of picking out the strongest factors.

Your achievements

In this section you need to identify both your objective (measured) achievements, such as qualifications, awards, skills where you gained a specific grade, or where you took a test like your driving test and more subjective ones – ie. those skills which are not objectively measured or awarded but which have something positive to say about your drive, commitment, talents, skills and abilities.

For example, you might include temporary work you have done like waitressing or dish-washing, or volunteering initiatives in which you have participated, or it might be even looser things such as overcoming a fear of heights or teaching a younger sibling to ride a bike or read. Subjective achievements can be almost anything, provided they can be seen to demonstrate a positive attribute or attitude in you. In some ways they are more important than your objective ones as they are the ones that will help show your character and demonstrate that you have initiative, when perhaps someone else does not.

You should already have a strong and comprehensive list to look at in your answers to questions 1, 2 & 3. Start there. You will probably find that it is easier to start with your objective achievements as they are concrete eg:

  • Exam qualifications
  • Music grades
  • LAMDA grades
  • Qualifications from hobbies eg. sports (football, skiing, athletics, tennis, swimming, lifesaving, diving etc)
  • Driving licence
  • Post-graduate / diplomas / vocational training eg. law, stockbroking exams, HR, Public sector, PGCE, etc
  • Other qualifications which you may have which have nothing to do with your chosen career eg. HGV licence, upholstery, plumbing etc.

Then think about your subjective achievements – this is where the work you did answering questions 1, 2 & 3 will be particularly useful. Look at the lists you made about what you enjoy doing, what you think you are good at and what you are most proud of. These should provide you with the inspiration you need to complete your achievements section.

For example, if you said that you are sociable and like meeting people, this can be turned into the more formal skill of excellent people skills, which suggests good customer service. Or it may be that your ability with people has manifested itself in terms of encouraging siblings or friends who are shy or introverted, or dealing with difficult customers in one of your temporary jobs such as waiting or in retail, or even being on a committee of a club or social group. These scenarios demonstrate your ability to engage with people – a talent valued in many careers such as in customer service, sales, management etc.

You could also include things here which you are not naturally good at but have worked hard to achieve results in eg. getting maths GCSE; overcoming a fear of heights; learning to drive or dive or water ski or read Mandarin or anything else which didn’t come easily. Often the things we struggle most with are the ones which best demonstrate the positive aspects of our character.

Additionally, you might include much softer value driven factors here which demonstrate what matters to you. They could be political, social or cultural eg:

  • Supporting BLM or standing up to the school bully
  • Visiting old people in their homes or listening to your grandparents repeat the same story many times without showing them that you’ve heard it before
  • Showing compassion
  • Showing common sense
  • Showing good judgement
  • Being fair and open minded

Some things to think about:

  • Hobbies – eg. music, drama, clubs or societies. Don’t just think about what you have done but think about why they are achievements. What do they say about you? For example, if you helped set up or run a club for fun – what did that bring you / what did you learn? If you learned a musical instrument what has it brought you? What does appearing in drama productions or helping behind the scenes say about you and why is that important?
  • Work success – not just specific awards but more subjective factors such as challenging projects you have completed; or how you have dealt with difficult clients or even difficult managers or you might have stepped up to manage a team suddenly, written articles or even organised the Christmas party etc
  • You should have listed a lot of possibilities earlier but make sure that you have been comprehensive and thought about all sorts of aspects of your life – volunteering, languages, travel, adventure, sports, music, clubs, social occasions, organisation, adventure, research – your family tree, art, cooking, how you deal with people, teaching, dealing with pets, the older generation, friends, or even the slightly bizarre such as walking over hot coals!

Once you have completed the achievements section on Worksheet 2, look over it and compare it to the work you did in Worksheet 1 about your target audience.

How do you measure up? Do you meet their required needs and skills? If not, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can I add to my achievements section?
  • Have I missed something out?
  • Should I take up a new hobby / skill to demonstrate that I do have the requisite skill set?
  • Or, should I think about another career direction?

Fill in Worksheet 2 outlining your strengths and achievements, and who you are aiming to impress.