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Self Appraisal and Employment

by John-Brian Paprock © 1997


Richard Burton (the 16th Century explorer not the 20th Century actor) is given credit for saying something like, "If you travel long enough and far enough, you will eventually meet yourself." Sir Richard was not referring to meeting his genetic duplicate. He was referring to the inevitable understanding of self one receives through diverse experience. As the old adage says, "Wherever you go, there you are." Our experience verifies or changes our beliefs about ourselves.

In this age of 2-5 year careers and 3 or more job changes, it is rare to meet someone who isn't well traveled with either career changes or job searches. We can utilize the opportunities for self-appraisal that past and present employment allows; whether we are job searching or career jumping. According to some futurists and employment consultants, self awareness and self appraisal may be two of the best career assets one could develop. As futurist and career consultant Robert Barner suggests traditional linear career planning is outmoded. It will be rare to climb to the top from the bottom. In fact, it is already clear that the number of essential employees is steadily decreasing. Down-sizing is already in common usage. The temporary employee/specialist/consultant as a supplement to core staff is already the reality in most companies. The trend will only continue.

Moving from the linear career plan to the more flexible career strategy will be the ticket to success for the future, writes Robert Barner in his book Lifeboat Strategies: How to Keep Youtr Career Above Water. It involves moving from outward signs of success (Barner calls these "trophy collecting") to an inner focus of personal satisfaction. By reviewing our work experiences and gauging our abilities, we need to be able to honestly appraise ourselves in three key areas:

To develop your own career strategy, Barner gives five basic steps to prepare for the challenges ahead. (Four of the five require self appraisal and self assessment.)

We know for the next five to ten years that everyone will be challenged by an ever-changing work environment. It has always been difficult to accurately predict the future, but we can be excited about the possibilities when we, like the explorer Sir Richard Burton, get acquainted with ourselves. We cannot escape it - "wherever we go, there we are."

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[Originally appeared in Now Hiring, Madison, Wisconsin - March 1997]