The word “advocate” in Latin means “to call to one’s aid”. Generally we don’t think of needing to provide aid to ourselves, but that’s exactly what you do when advocating for yourself while working to reach your desired life goals.
As a career counselor, my focus is always on empowering clients to recognize, understand and embrace their unique innate gifts and talents. After all, how can you advocate for yourself when you don’t clearly know and embrace what you have to offer? The ability to advocate effectively for oneself in high value situations (those that mean the most to you and which typically occur within a competitive environment, such as when applying for a job, scholarship or educational program) is powerful and gratifying. It builds self-esteem and confidence, an essential foundation for success.
The first step in the process is to embrace a proactive attitude. Secondly, success in any potentially competitive situation involves preparation and confidence. Analysis of your “selling points” and how to present yourself and provide solid relatable evidence of your talents and strengths is essential.
The best way to do that is by using convincing behavioral examples. Any life situation, when polished and presented for the appropriate topic, can become a convincing confirmation of your candidacy. Taking the initiative in analyzing your unique examples, and understanding the impact of your personal and professional growth in the results, whether good or bad, can be difficult on your own. Professional assistance can expedite and impact the finished product. It serves one well to become comfortable and competent at self-promotion when it is needed.
Promoting oneself on the ability to succeed involves demonstrating that ability through past experiences. These must be presented in a polished and natural manner, with a focus on the results and the learning that ensued. So, how does one begin to identify these characteristics?
First, one must identify in depth what is unique and original about them. Over the years, I have found this to be the most difficult challenge for the clients I meet. Most of us tend to think that our gifts are commonly shared amongst the general population. In the majority of cases, nothing could be further from the truth! Innate gifts are distinctly ours because they are formed by unique family, societal, educational and life experiences. Even if similar gifts are found in others, they may be used or applied in very different ways. So first we identify the unique talents and skills; then they are defined specifically to address the context in which they will be promoted.
As insights are gained, confirmation and the realization of how useful and marketable each trait is can become apparent. This process can be enhanced and accelerated with the assistance of a talented career consultant or counselor. The truth is, we don’t often recognize our gifts and talents as special without triggers that provide feedback from others along the way, confirming our career strengths.
One helpful solution is using career assessment tools that yield concise and directed results. Here’s one example why. In my years as a career counselor, I have been struck by how often clients respond with, “Isn’t everybody good at that?” when presented with assessment results. I am always surprised by the lack of personal awareness and my reply always involves, “No, you are uniquely made. Everybody is not good at that, and your abilities are in such a sufficiency that they could make you quite successful — but only if you are able to describe and validate them with behavioral examples that illustrate your competencies. We just need to decide which examples you want to use in what circumstances.”
This begs the question, what is the best way to work through this process effectively and efficiently? I’m sure there are countless suggestions, but the one resource that opens the doors to the mind and heart in an easily understood and enlightening manner is the personality type assessment Do What You Are®, available from Human eSources. The results report presents information in easily understood categories in a clear and relatable manner. It’s compelling, but most of all useful, as the client reacts, reflects on how it resonates with their true self, and responds.
Once we have clarification, we seek to identify, define and create a repertoire of everyday examples of strengths and talents that the client can use when they need to advocate for a high value opportunity.