By Claudia Cowell
Wally finds himself lost all over the world. His whole life is centred around his passion for travel and adventure, and seeking extremely crowded places to explore (crowded beaches, airports, ski slopes, towns, railway stations, and safari parks… just to name a few!).
But unlike Wally, no one REALLY likes to feel lost. So if you are feeling overwhelmed in a world of too many jobs and not enough direction, come on a ride with me. At the very least you will learn if Wally is employable after all these years of hiding around the world.
Let’s set the career scene, so to speak: we are going to think about work environments you can imagine pictured in a Where’s Wally book. What quirky (and doubtlessly overcrowded) places would prefer to find yourself in? Let’s think of three.
Would you be (lost) in a page that is:
- Outside in nature?
- At a video game convention?
- At a construction site?
- In a hospital laboratory?
- In a fancy/funky office space?
The places you choose, they are driven by your interests and values. Think about your previous work, volunteering, and personal life experiences. If you look back on those experiences in the context of the environments they were placed, you may be able to see patterns in the places you thrive in, seek out, or feel comfortable in, and environments that you don’t enjoy or avoid.
We are also limited by our experiences. Maybe you have an environment you’ve always wanted to be exposed to but haven’t had the opportunity yet. Not everyone is as well-travelled as Wally, after all! Take note of them; they are paths yet trodden and need to be explored.
Does Wally do anything but hide? He is a quirky and unique character that is highly skilled at going undercover, but potentially unemployable if he hasn’t diversified his skills sets (more on that later).
All sorts of people are engaged in a number of activities around him. Let’s start on a small scale – look at this picture (below) of an airport. Imagine you were placed in this picture, can you identify three different activities you would prefer to be doing?
- Fixing the plane’s mechanical issues? Using problem solving skills, analytical skills…
- Driving the fire truck or one of the planes? Using decision-making skills, communication skills…
- Screening and assisting the animals and people that board the plane? Using analytical skills/attention to detail, interpersonal skills…
The activities you considered are aligned to your interests, strengths and values. To thrive in a complex environment, you need to do some reflecting on your skill sets that come most naturally to you. Do you like to help people? Would you rather analyse data and work with complex technologies and systems? Are you a practical/get your hands dirty type? Is it designing that floats your boat?
Often it is easier to understand your strengths when you can identify the differences between you and your friends, family, peers, or work colleagues. How are you different? To get further insights into your strengths and temperament, take a few quizzes on Abintegro.
If we were to turn the pages of Where’s Wally into real life and ask people along the way if they know him by asking for the guy “in red and white get-up, glasses, and a walking stick” – I think we would get lots of leads and find Wally quite quickly. But what about if we said “the guy who loves an adventure, thrives in chaos, loves to observe, and is always enthusiastic”. Would we find him?
This all comes down to his networking skills. Who he talked to and what he shared about himself. What impression has he made on those around him? How does he follow up and continue the relationship once he has made a connection – does he use LinkedIn as a networking platform?
When you are lost on your pages and your best friend, your colleague or your university peer have to come find you by asking the hundreds if they’ve met you… How would each of them describe your personality or your personal attributes (without describing you physical traits)?
Reflecting on how different people perceive you from different contexts of your life is important for you to understand your personal and professional brand. Your professional brand is what someone will say about you when you leave the room (or when you’re lost!).
Just like Wally, you can be found online from anywhere across the globe and your professional brand never sleeps when it’s on social media and networking platforms such as LinkedIn, so make sure your brand promotes your strengths, skills sets, experience, and positive personal attributes.
Question on all of your lips: Is Wally employable?
If Wally can effectively network – then yes! He has had the opportunity to be immersed in so many different environments, meet so many different people in a variety of roles, and observe and participate in a diverse array of activities that he should be a jack-of-all-trades by now!
Wally’s stand-out skills are his abilities to observe, strategise, explore, and inspire. Wally could transfer these skills across many roles such as being a manager, teacher, creative producer, or an engineer.
Okay, enough hypotheticals, what can I do?
If you are overwhelmed by the job market and where you fit amongst the masses, start with some of these small steps:
- Do some self-reflective activities using Abintegro to find out more about what motivates you, and what makes you – you!
- Set some SMART goals targeting practical steps towards your future
- Do your research on what companies fit with your values, strengths, and interests
- Compare yourself to other graduates across the university – what skill sets do you have and do you not have?
- Grab networking opportunities with two hands, including utilising LinkedIn
- Try out a variety of professional working environments through internships and meet professionals through the Professional Mentoring Program at UTS
If those aren’t helpful why not don the red and white striped outfit, grab a walking stick and some glasses, and go on an adventure! It worked for Wally, and he’s a multi-millionaire.
Claudia Cowell is a Careers Consultant with UTS Careers. Claudia is passionate about empowering UTS students to better understand their strengths, values and interests and how they can add value and achieve their goals in a fast-paced and competitive world of work.
Featured image courtesy of Fanpop