Foliotek Blog

Self-Reflection Tips

Whether it’s for a resume, an eportfolio, or a job interview, knowing how to present ourselves to an audience is hard. We’ve all stared at a blank computer screen for an extended period of time, not knowing where to start. How can we summarize our life story into one page? Where do you even start?

Self-Reflection Defined: “Self-Reflection is mediation and serious thoughts about one’s character, actions, or motives.”

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Before jumping to conclusions that Self-Reflection is just as hard as presenting to your audience, take a moment to consider these steps from Sandburg. It’s very similar to exercising. It sounds really hard at first, but once you get in the rhythm, it all starts making sense. You will be happy you got started!

“It is necessary … for man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” – Carl Sandburg

Step 1: Who am I?

From a career standpoint, an individual can be good at something and not enjoy it. Let’s be honest, lacking motivation and heart for your career will eventually give. So for this first step, focus on writing down the things you both enjoy and are good at. For example, maybe you are good at solving problems and you enjoy helping people. Make note of these areas and look for consistencies. Write down all the things that fire you up and that you are naturally motivated to do. Ultimately, these intrinsic motivators are what shape who you are.

Step 2: Where have I been?

This is where the reflection on past experiences will take place. Really look at what career decisions you have made and whether they turned out well or not. Learn from your mistakes, but also learn from the work environments you have enjoyed. If you haven’t had a lot of job experiences yet, write down what type of courses you really enjoyed and the learning environments where you work best. Perhaps you really liked round-table discussions or hands-on experiences. Again, apply the motivation aspect, but now specifically to your past career experiences. If you have some work experience, what positions did you like and how did you excel? Which ones were a challenge? By answering these questions now, you will be ready to really present your true passions and gifts.

Step 3: Where am I going?

After the first two steps, you should start noticing some consistencies in what career paths are a good fit for you. Consider what you can already offer to an employer with the education and the training that you’ve already received. It’s alright if you don’t have all the answers, but having a better understanding of where your strengths and passions are is a huge step in itself. Knowing the career paths you don’t want to take is also a huge victory.

These questions can help you reflect on who you are and where you want to be in life. Reflecting on this information can help you while preparing your resume, piecing together important artifacts for a portfolio, and speaking intelligently about your experiences in an interview. Even if you aren't preparing for any of the above, these tips will help you appreciate the work you've put in to get where you are today.

Related Posts:
What is Your Brand?
Tell Me About Yourself
Show Your Work


Tell Me About a Time When ...

You follow the receptionist down a dark and narrow hallway to the scariest room in the building: the conference room. This is where your fate will be decided. Will you land your dream job and start a promising career or will you be stuck living in your parents' basement forever? You choose your seat wisely, hoping that your choice doesn't have some strange, hidden meaning that says you're completely wrong for the job. After the polite introductions, the dreaded interview questions begin. First, "Tell me about yourself." Then, at some point during the grueling process, you'll hear "Tell me about a time when … "
alt Ok, maybe it won't be quite that dramatic. However, if you want your interview to go well, you should be prepared to answer this commonly asked question. When you're asked "Tell me about a time when," your interviewer is asking you to tell a story. Maybe it's a story of overcoming a challenge, solving a complex problem, or dealing with a difficult customer. The best way to prepare for this question is to have a few stories up your sleeve.

Know the job requirements

Refer to the job description and determine the requirements of the position. The goal of your story is to communicate that you have the skills required. Look through some common 'Tell me about a time when,' questions and try to anticipate what questions you might be asked.

Think about your experiences

Reflect on your past experiences, both personal and professional. Think about your accomplishments, personal growth, failures, and proud moments. How do these experiences relate to the requirements of the job? If one of the job requirements is teamwork, think of a time you had to work with others. What was your role on the team? How did you help the team accomplish your goals? Developing this story will help you communicate to your interviewer what they can expect from you in a team setting.

Write a story and practice

In order to turn your experiences into meaningful stories, you need to know how to tell them. Like all good stories, they should have a beginning, middle, and end. Building your stories around the STAR technique can be helpful when it comes to interview questions. The beginning of your story should describe the Situation and Task of your experience. The middle will be the Activity or Action you took. The end is the Result of your action. Once you have your story, practice telling it out loud so you appear polished and professional....like this:

Share your stories

You don't have to wait until an interview to share your stories. Use Foliotek Projects to showcase your experiences to potential employers. Including stories (projects) on your ID page or ePortfolio will give employers a better idea of your skillset before you even meet.

The last thing you want to do in an interview is stumble around trying to think of a decent story to tell. Take the time to write, practice, and share your stories, and that long walk to the conference room won't be scary at all.


Land Your Dream Job

Elon Musk Quote

Using Foliotek to Get Your Dream Job

Employers want to see more than just a list of your skills; they want to see evidence of your work. The combination of Foliotek’s Identity Page (ID Page) and Projects is a great way to create an online brand that can be used to market yourself to potential employers. On your ID Page, you can include all of the pertinent information from your resume (objective, work and school history, etc.), but this is only the first step. Take your brand to the next level and include projects to showcase artifacts and evidence that prove you can do everything listed on your resume. When creating your online identity, your introduction is the first thing employers will see. It needs to be a solid reflection of who you are and what makes you great.

Helpful Hint: Check out Foliotek for more information and how to get started.

What makes a solid introduction?

This is your chance to attract an employer by explaining what makes you unique. Think of it as your first impression; it needs to be upbeat, honest, and brief. It should be no more than 500 characters in length, including spaces. Don’t worry, the artifacts you include in your projects will provide all the details. To keep your introduction short, focus on a few genuine characteristics and follow the guidelines below to really wow a potential employer.

Helpful Hint: The above paragraph is 455 characters (or 3 ½ tweets!)

How do I write a solid introduction?

Hook

When you read a book or watch a pilot episode of a new TV series, you want to be captivated from the beginning. The same holds true for an employer searching for a new employee. Start your introduction with an interesting story that describes what makes you who you are today. You could even include a quote, interesting fact, or statistic and reveal how it relates to you. Whatever you do, make sure it is stimulating and will make the employer want to know more about you and what you can do.

Information

Explain your hook further. Describe how the story or quote from your hook is important to your life and provide a few personal attributes that prove you will make a good employee. Think about any skills you have that would translate into the work force. What about you shows your ability to lead or work well with others? How have you interacted with others in your community? How do you stay focused on a task when things go wrong?

Helpful Hint: Check out this article by Travis Bradberry on Forbes.com to see what makes a Truly Exceptional Employee:

Thesis

Finish your introduction with an authentic statement illustrating what you want out of life and why the path you are on will help you succeed. You’ve told your employer who you are and what makes you great. Now wrap it up, and in one sentence tell them what you will do with this greatness.

Musk, Elon. "We Are Looking for Hardcore Software Engineers. No Prior Experience with Cars Required. Please Include Code Sample or Link to Your Work." Twitter. Twitter, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.


Find a Job by Telling Your Story

Stories

Tin Toy, a video short by Pixar, won Pixar's first Academy Award for the Best Animated Short Film. I'd imagine that some people would argue that their win was driven by their impressive 1988 introduction of 3D graphics. However, even if that was true, you can't argue with how they delivered a memorable story. A story that laid the foundation for three major movies that collectively earned just under 1.9 billion dollars. That's a "B" for "Billion"!

Stories are everywhere and every person has their own unique story to tell. The ability for you to share your own unique story is what will intrigue potential employers, help you gain employment, and influence the amount you get paid. So how do you do this?

Stories for Employment

Your story should be broken into three Acts (like a good play)

  • Act I - Introduction
  • Act II - Introduction of Evidence
  • Act III - Evidence Detail

Act I - Introduction

This is a super short pitch that details the most important things about you as quickly as possible. If this is written, it should be fewer than 200 words. If this is being shared verbally, it should take fewer than two minutes.

Here is an example of a visually pleasing, short and simple digital introduction. Foliotek Identity Page

Act II - Introduction of Evidence

Once your introduction grabs someone's attention, you need something authentic to show them or talk to them about. This comes in the form of evidence. When sharing evidence visually, you MUST use good imagery. Research shows that the brain translates visuals 60,000 times faster than text. The image a potential employer sees will speak to them faster than anything else. So take advantage of this visual bias and use intriguing imagery. Good use of images is essential to telling a great story. Watch Tin Toy again, not only is this video short void of text, there isn't a single spoken word.

Additionally, people's interests vary. It is important to have a smorgasbord of interesting evidence. You don't know what might peak someone's interest. Just be certain when you are choosing evidence, that it is consistent in showcasing the skill set and mindset that best places you in a position for employment.

Foliotek Project List

Act III - Evidence Details

People looking at your story won't make it to Act III unless they are impressed with the first two Acts. If those are done well, the reader or listener will be interested in learning the details that make you who you are. The details within your evidence should drive home the skill set and mindset needed for employment. As the reader passes from one piece of evidence to the next, they should receive a clear picture of the characteristics you offer them.

For a great example, check out Hannah's evidence demonstrating her Skill Set and Mindset from an internship experience.