Being Self-Aware Gives You a Competitive Advantage in the Marketplace

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

Some of you may be aware that I’m a parent of five children, as well as the founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, an executive search and recruiting firm serving the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. Three of my five children are boys, and I don’t mind telling you that while they were growing up, they were always “underfoot.” That means every time I turned around, it seemed as though I was stepping on one of my sons, running over them, or tripping on them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my children and my sons and I enjoy being around them. However, children sometimes are not self-aware. They’re not aware of what they’re doing in proximity to those around them. For children, this is more or less natural. As they become older, they become more self-aware and I don’t find myself tripping over them quite so much today. The oldest son is in high school now.

However, I’ve noticed a correlation in the employment marketplace. Specifically, I’ve noticed that some professionals are lacking in the area of self-awareness. As in the case of my sons, these professionals are not aware of what they’re doing in proximity to those around them.

And I’m certainly not the only person who has recognized this trend. Last year, the Harvard Business Review published the results of a five-year research program. As part of those results, although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10% to 15% actually are. That’s a staggering statistic.

The Harvard Business Review also conducted a survey of 467 working adults across several industries in the United States. According to the results of that survey, 99% of respondents indicated that they were working with at least one colleague who was not self-aware. Not only that, but nearly half of respondents also indicated that they were working with four such people. Think about that for just a minute—not one, not two, not even three . . . but four!

How can being self-aware give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace? Because this is apparently a rare skill. Even when people believe that they are adequately self-aware, chances are good they are not.

Let’s turn to how not being self-aware can hurt you professionally. It can do so in a number of different ways and in a variety of situations, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a job seeker or candidate or if you’re a hiring manager or someone else in charge of making hiring decisions. Not being self-aware can have a detrimental impact on your employment situation and ultimately, your career. Below are some of the main ways that it can hurt you.

#1—It prevents you from receiving a promotion.

If you’re not self-aware and you are unconsciously engaging in behavior or activities that your superiors perceive in a negative fashion, then you’re not going to move up the ranks. It could involve how you interact with your co-workers, it could involve how you interact with your boss, or it could involve both.

#2—It prevents you from receiving a raise.

Along with a promotion comes, of course, a raise. (Well, in many instances it does, although not in every instance.) One of the things that Animal Health and Veterinary professionals want to do is grow their career, and that includes with their current employer. If you can’t advance where you are now and the main reason is because you’re not self-aware, then that is definitely a problem.

#3—It prevents you from receiving a job offer.

This is when you’re pursuing a new employment opportunity, typically following the face-to-face interview stage of the hiring process. I can’t tell you how many candidates I’ve spoken with over the years who thought that their interview went very well, only to discover that the hiring manager had a much different viewpoint. In short, the candidate was not aware of how they were coming across, and because of that, they had no idea that the interview, in fact, did NOT go well.

In all of these situations, the hiring manager no longer considered the candidate for the position.

#4—It prevents you from retaining your best employees.

If you’re in a management position and/or you’re in charge of hiring decisions, your best employees could be leaving because of the behavior of others within the organization. These other employees may not be aware of their behavior and how it’s affecting others, but the end result is an exodus of talent, quite possibly to your competition.

And this includes the behavior of those in management positions. People quit their job because of their boss with regularity, and in many of the cases, their boss is not aware of the effect that their behavior is having. (This is especially the case in terms of how they treat their employees.)

When you get right down to it, being self-aware is a matter of personal branding, which is a topic that we’ve explored previously. The definition of personal branding is rather simple: it’s how people feel after having an experience with you. How people feel about their experience with you directly impacts what they think about you, both in the moments immediately following the experience and thereafter.

The process of personal branding begins as soon as you interact with someone. That’s when they start to notice everything about you. It could be a phone call, or it could be a face-to-face meeting. Regardless of the type of interaction, personal branding is happening.

So when a person is not self-aware, it means they are not aware of their personal brand. They are not aware of how they make people feel during their interactions with them. The only thing worse than having a poor personal brand is having a poor personal brand and not knowing that you have one. That’s because you’re not in a position to do anything about it. Instead, you’re relegated to leaving people with the same poor experience, over and over again. That is a recipe for disaster.

However, there is good news, as we’ve already discussed. There is a glaring lack of professionals in the employment marketplace who are truly self-aware individuals. So if you can successfully become aware of your behavior and how you make people feel during your interactions with them, then you can have a competitive advantage in the marketplace, both with your current employer and with any potential future employer that you may pursue.

One way you can become more self aware is to ask for feedback. In a previous article we discussed that feedback is a gift. You can find that article here: https://thevetrecruiter.com/feedback-following-interview-gift-not-personal-attack/

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1.By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2.By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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