It's Time For A Self-Assessment
In this chapter we focus on YOU.

The purpose of Self Assessment is to center yourself around who you are and what you want.  During your job search, it is important that you learn how to talk about yourself in a professional manner that makes a positive impression.  We take a hard look at everything from your skills and values, to your salary history and red flags, to what to say in your 30 second elevator speech.  We recommend exercises that help you define your strengths and give you specific language to communicate your values; then we provide templates that help you tell your story with confidence and clarity. 

Once you have a clear picture of who you are and the value you provide, it is easier to determine where you want to go.

Employing Yourself
If you are employed, you have a boss.

If you arrived late in the morning there were consequences.  The consequences could have included delayed deliverables or meeting attendance, which could have a negative impact on productivity, and ultimately the bottom line.  Of course, the professional consequences of this behavior would be both risky and costly.  Now that you are working at you job search, you don’t have to worry about all of that… or do you?

You set the schedules.  You make the rules.  You measure the progress.  If something doesn’t get done there is no one to blame but yourself–you suffer the consequences. 

Just like on the job, inefficiency costs money, but now, it’s your TIME and your MONEY.

The financial cost of being out of work is substantial and with it can also come great emotional cost.  But instead of letting that scare you, let it motivate you.  Find something that puts that fire inside of you, something that encourages you to act, rather than freeze you with fear.  We want to give you something that you can use to motivate yourself to stay focused and productive.


Let’s use money as a motivator and figure out the opportunity cost by being out of work.

Let these numbers motivate you for continued progress in your search.  

To Do:
⬜ Figure out your personal weekly/monthly salary.
You're The Boss

For optimal success, the full time job searcher should target 30-35 hours a week for their job search.  A part-time searcher should target around 10-15 hours a week.  Determine how many hours a week you are going to dedicate to your search and then stick with that schedule.

It is really hard to dedicate over 35 hours a week to your job search.  Pushing too hard can actually burn you out, so conserve your energy to stay effective.  If you are planning to commit to a full time search, try to target 30-35 hours per week.

Skills And Values

Hiring Managers are most comfortable with candidates who know who they are. Candidates who are fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses and able to discuss them fare better than those who do not. If a candidate isn’t clear about who they are and what they can do, it places doubt and confusion in the mind of the interviewer.

People are drawn to clarity.

Clarity translates directly into confidence. If you are clear and confident, in many circumstances, you can outshine people with more experience. It really pays to be fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses.

Skills And Values Assessment Exercise
Read through the three lists below and circle 5 skills and values from the list below that best describe you.

You will use these words and phrases when you begin to create your marketing messages.  Don’t be limited by just this list. 

This is to help you get started.

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Professional Skills And Values

Well organized
Strong work ethic
Self confident
High energy level
Handles stress well
Innovative, creative
Detail oriented
High integrity
Capacity for change
Outcome focused
Well rounded/diverse interests
Thrives on challenge
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Business Skills And Values

Written communication skills
Presentation skills
Analytical skills
Oral communication skills
Manages other people well
Conceptualize "outside box"
Sets high work standards
Takes direction well
Financially analytical
Strategic thinker
Delegates well
Quickly learns new concepts
Computer literate

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Relationship Skills And Values

Very persuasive
Builds rapport easily
A good listener
A natural leader
Even tempered
Great negotiator
Tolerate differences
Ability to work through conflicts
Problem solver
Take An Assessment
Are you uncomfortable talking about yourself or not sure what to say when it comes to describing who you are?

One of the best ways to learn more about who you are is to take an assessment that can provide personal insight.  These standardized assessments can help you understand your talents and abilities and provide a powerful vocabulary to help you speak confidently about yourself.

Companies often use assessments to screen candidates and taking one in advance can help you be prepared by reacquainting yourself with the testing process.  The lessons learned from taking an assessment are invaluable in crafting your story.

1. The DISC Assessment

One of the most well-known and widely accepted assessments is called the DISC Assessment. The 2 reports that we recommend are the Management-Staff and Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values assessments.

The suggested retail price for both these reports is $165 and the market price is around $120.  Competitive Edge will offer competitive pricing and service.

For more information contact Judy Suiter at

Learn More About DISC
2. Strengths Finder 2.0
$11.50 plus shipping & handling

This book has become a #1 Wall Street Journal best seller and promises to help you “Discover what makes you stand out.” 

Based on the theory that we spend more time trying to fix our shortcomings rather than developing our strengths, the book provides an access code to an online test that promises to uncover your top 5 strengths. The book itself provides strategies for applying your strengths and can help you change the way you look at yourself and the world around you.

Learn More
3. The Career Direct Complete Guidance System
$80.00 or try the free version

The Career Direct Complete Guidance System analyzes four critical areas (personality, interests, skills, and values) "to help you maximize your God-given talents and abilities."

While this tool is based on research and has been validated, it clearly states that it approaches career guidance from a Biblical perspective. Sample reports are available to see if this assessment is right for you.

Learn More
4. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test
Starting from $55.00

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator helps identify the ways you prefer to take in information and make decisions, as well as how you’re energized and resolve issues. This is a very popular tool, but it requires the interpretive assistance of a certified MBTI practitioner.

Find A Certified Practitioner
Everyone has a story to tell.
In this section, we discuss the development of your story.

We provide a framework that helps you tell people you meet about your past, present, and future.  It is a bit of an art to telling your story in a clear, concise fashion.  In essence, you are communicating your own personal brand and the value you can bring to an organization.

We address your past roles, most recent position and your future job.  Being able to express these ideas in clear personable language makes you memorable.  Being comfortable with the details that you provide creates clarity around who you are and what you want.  This is a very attractive commodity.

To fully articulate your story you will develop:

  • 3-4 Success Stories
  • The “So, tell me about yourself” speech
  • The 30-60 second elevator pitch
“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”
~ Robert McKee
Success Stories
Your success stories tell prospective employers how you will bring value to their organization.

They are like mini case studies of your accomplishments and should include the following components:

Challenge – State the situation, challenge or problem that was solved:

  • Was it a management issue dealing with processes and people?
  • Were there specific financial or performance metrics that needed to be addressed?
  • How did you reorganize your job or work to be more effective?

Approach – How you approached the situation/problem:

  • Was this something you identified or was the issue assigned to you?
  • Who was involved? What was your role?
  • What process did you use to formulate your approach?
  • How did you work with your boss and peers?

Solution – The solution you came up with (examples):

  • “A new tracking process that streamlined inventory control”
  • “A standardized sales presentation that better aligned products for cross and upselling”

Results – Outline the quantifiable results you created, be specific, use numbers if you can:

  • How much time and/or money did the solution save the company?
  • Did the solution increase revenue or profit margin?
  • What efficiencies were created?
  • What sales, marketing or new business objectives were achieved?
  • How did you know it was successful?

Now think back and recall 3-4 of your most impressive accomplishments.  These are your finest hours and could come from your last role or your last couple of roles.  Write several bullet points that define the challenge, approach, solution and results that were gained from your efforts.

Tool Kit Item:
We have created a Success Story Template to help you write about your achievements. (Item 5 in the Career Handler Tool Kit).
Remember To Avoid These Success Story Pitfalls

Success stories are an important part of your story arsenal, but they come with a few pitfalls.  Here are some key points to remember when telling your success stories.

  • At all costs avoid rambling on and on and on…keep your success story components concise.
  • Be sure to clarify your role in the operation or achievement.
  • Remember nobody succeeds without help.  Be sure to give credit where credit is due.
  • A little bragging is good, but don’t overdo it.
  • Don’t downplay your success, sound confident and proud about what you achieved.
To Do:

⬜ Write 3-4 Success Stories. Use the Success Story Template, Item 5, in the Tool Kit in the back of the Career Handler© Workbook.
"So...Tell Us About Yourself..."
It is the ultimate icebreaker interview question.

Most interviewers who ask you this question are looking for far more than the contents of your life.  It is actually one of the great make or break questions.  The way you answer this question can determine the entire course of the interview and it is an art to answer without rambling and boring the listener. 

Interviewers who begin with this question are really trying to get the interview started by getting a snapshot of who you are.

They are really listening for the following:

1. Your attitude:

  • Do you project positive energy?
  • Are you smiling and happy as you talk?

2. Your communication skills:

  • Use of language
  • The ability to communicate clearly & concisely
  • Your ability to develop rapport and connect with the interviewer

3. Your confidence:

  • Are you comfortable in your skin?
  • Are you confident and proud of what you have achieved?
  • Are you confident in your ability to execute?

Notice that I did not mention anything about your work experience or accomplishments.  This question is an interviewer’s attempt to get to know who you are as a person.  Remember, you don’t have to spill all your beans on this one question.  Keep your story clear and concise and if possible make a connection with the interviewer that sparks conversation.

So, Tell Me About Yourself (and use this template)
This is your chance to connect with the interviewer on both a professional and personal level.

To help you master the art of the informal bio, we have put together a template to help you craft your “So, Tell Me About Yourself“ story.  This is Item 6 in the Career Handler© Tool Kit.

Using the format below, write your answers out in bullet points.  Handwrite and practice the points until you have memorized them.  Then, practice telling your story in front of a mirror until you can deliver the points in a concise, fluent, conversational manner.  Use a clock with a second hand or a stopwatch to time your responses to ensure that they don’t exceed the suggested time limits provided in the template.  Write out or type a clean version of this story and place it in your binder to use as a reference for phone interviews.

Then, relax and enjoy telling your story when someone asks you that million dollar question.  Have fun!

Tool Kit Item: Tell me about yourself template
This is Item 6 in the Career Handler Tool Kit

A synopsis of your youth: [1 minute]

  • Where you grew up, include items of interest that speak to your character such as Eagle Scout, class president, family context, early jobs, etc.

College synopsis: [30 seconds]

  • College(s) attended, degrees earned, major fields of study
  • Fraternities or sororities, sports, leadership positions
  • How you developed your interest or passion for your profession

Personal interests:  [30 seconds]

  • Family, hobbies, sports, activities, clubs, volunteer organizations, etc.

Career highlights: [2-3 minutes]

  • Leading up to the present, include the following for your job as well as other relevant roles
  • Name of company and your role
  • Earlier entries can be addressed in more general terms
  • Assess the opportunity and spend more time on more relevant experience and include significant accomplishments

What you are currently looking for: [30 seconds]

  • Describe the type of role and company that you are currently seeking (avoid saying what you are not interested in)
To Do:
⬜ Use the template to create your “So, tell me about yourself” story. This is Item 6 in the Career Handler© Tool Kit.
The Elevator Speech
The elevator speech is a quick commercial about you.

This story is more focused on your career.  “Pretend you stepped into an elevator with a Decision Maker at one of your target companies.  He is heading to the 10th floor.  That is how long you have to introduce yourself and tell him your story.  The phrase was coined because this actually happens more often than you would think, so it pays to be prepared.

Your elevator speech is a 30-90 second commercial about you.  You use it networking.  When crafted and delivered skillfully, it will tell the person you share it with who you are and how you provide value.  Your elevator speech provides a brief overview of:

  • Who you are
  • What you have accomplished
  • How you are unique
  • What you are looking for
  • Includes 3 or 4 target companies that you are interested in
Tool Kit Item:

 We have created a template to help you craft your elevator speech.  This is Item 7 in the Career Handler© Tool Kit

To Do:

⬜ Create your elevator speech. Use the Elevator Speech Template; this is Item 7 in the Career Handler© Tool Kit.
Memorize “Your Story”
This is your sub-headline

As you have progressed through the process of creating your stories, you should have noticed that we have instructed you to commit these stories to memory by writing them out and practicing them in front of the mirror. 

This may sound silly but it is a very important part of the process.  When you memorize your story, you no longer have to worry about “what” you say and can focus on “how” you say it.

During the Skills and Values Assessment, we discussed the importance of knowing who you are, what you are good at, and the clarity and confidence that self-awareness provides.  The insight and language provided by the assessment enables you to write your stories.  That is only the first step.  The real magic lies in delivery.  What you say is 10% and how you say it is 90%.

Being able to tell your story in a concise and comfortable manner creates a crystal clear impression of you as a professional and a person.  Once again, this clarity directly translates to confidence.

Practice makes perfect.  Memorize and practice telling your stories.

To Do:

Memorize and practice telling each part of your story.

Success Stories

So Tell Me About Yourself?

Elevator Speech

Salary History

Employers use many variables to screen potential candidates for open positions.  Salary is one of the primary factors.  When you are asked how much you made in your last role, you should be able to answer the question immediately and with confidence.  After all it is a fact.

To get a clear picture of how your income has progressed, track your salary history for the last 3-5 years.  Take a look at how you have done.  Has it gone up, down, or stayed the same?  What do you think about this progression?  Now is the time to ask this question so you can formulate an intelligent answer.

As we mentioned, if you are asked to share your salary history in an interview, phone screen, or application process, share it. It is a fact.  Also, do not ever offer that you are willing to accept less.  Such a statement implies to your future employer that you feel you are worth less than your previous value.  Even though you may think it will encourage the decision maker to consider you more closely as a candidate, it most likely won’t.

If you are asked the question, “How much money would you like to make?”, avoid it.  There is no correct answer to this question.  Stick to the facts - your salary history.  Provide what you were making at your last job and accurately quote your base salary, bonus percentage, and stock option packages.  When you answer this question, tell your future employer that you are confident that they will offer a competitive salary commensurate with your skills, but avoid giving them a number. 

To help compose your salary history and total compensation package numbers, use the template we have provided.  It might take a little digging to pull some of the numbers together if you have not kept a running tally.  Old pay stubs, W-2’s tax records, and healthcare enrollment documents may prove useful.

Tool Kit Item:

We have created a Compensation History Template to help you track your salary history. This is Item 8 in the Career Handler© Tool Kit

Quick Tip

When asked, “What you would like to make in your next role?” Don’t answer in specifics. Instead let them know that you are looking for a salary commensurate with the value you will bring to the organization.

To Do:
⬜ Create your salary history using the Compensation History Template. This is Item 8 in the Career Handler© Tool Kit.
Potential Red Flags
A “red flag” is any situation, instance, or condition that could be perceived as a problem in your career or even in your character.

Practically everyone has some form of a potential red flag in their career so don’t be embarrassed about yours.  However, it is necessary to be prepared to acknowledge these red flags and answer questions about them.  Some circumstances most commonly identified as potential red flags are:

  • Frequent job changes
  • Gaps in work history
  • No college degree or industry specific license
  • Changes in industry or discipline
  • Reasons for leaving a job
When it comes to red flags, honesty is always the best policy.

Responding intelligently and honestly to a difficult question about a potential red flag in your career history shows character and helps an interviewer see you as a real person.  When thinking about your answers consider these questions:

  • What you do differently now that prevents it from happening again?
  • What did you learn?
  • How did you take responsibility for it?
  • How do I answer without blaming anyone?

Quick Tip:

Try not to worry about the impact of your red flags. Everyone has one.  What can make you different is that you recognize it and are able to talk about what you learned and how you handled the experience.

To Do:
⬜ Review your career and identify any potential red flags. Craft your speaking points about them.
Define Your Target Discipline, Industry and Title
Having a clear understanding of what you are looking for, makes finding it a lot easier.

Knowing what you want and being able to clearly communicate it, helps other people help you as you network.

Define the type of position and role you are looking for and be as specific as possible.  Target a discipline and industry; you can even include geography if you like.

Now is not the time to keep your options open.  When you take this approach you appear aloof and indecisive.  Clarity is key.  Clarity attracts clarity.  If you have a clear picture of what you want, you are better equipped to identify potential opportunities when they present themselves.  Don’t worry; you will be presented with opportunities outside of your scope of focus.  At that time, decide if you’d like to pursue those opportunities, but don’t open up your job search so wide that your network doesn’t know how to help you.

This may take some research and soul searching, but don’t stop until you feel confident about what you want.

Identifying your discipline, industry and title also helps you develop your target list of companies.

Your target company list represents your primary targets, but this list can also identify a sphere of companies that can help you broaden your horizons to include subsidiaries, competitors, and vendors.


This is what you do.  The area of knowledge or functional skills that you apply in the execution of your job such as: accountant, engineer, architect, writer, photographer, etc.


This is the field in which you apply your discipline, such as aerospace, telecommunications, healthcare, transportation, consumer electronics, etc.


This is a generic title that most people are able to identify.  (Director of Marketing, Administrative Assistant, Vice President of Technology, Staff Accountant, etc.)

To Do:
⬜ Define your target discipline, industry, and title.
Associations for Networking

If you have never been a “joiner” now is the time to start.  It is important to get out there and be seen.  There is no better way to do that than to get involved with the relevant associations, clubs, and groups that support your industry and/or discipline.

Go online and research relevant associations within your industry/discipline and find:

  • Key contacts (if listed) – Add these names to your contact tracking log
  • Calendar of events – Schedule networking events on your calendar and attend them
  • Sponsor companies and corporations – These might become excellent additions to your target company list.

Here is a link to a list of association lists to help you get started (Online Directory) - http://www.weddles/associations/index.cfm.  Also, use an internet search engine to help you identify other groups and associations for networking.

Quick Tip:

Identify three relevant associations and groups that support your industry/discipline and schedule 2 networking events. Add them to your calendar.

To Do:
⬜ Identify three relevant associations and groups that support your industry/discipline and schedule 2 networking events. Add them to your calendar.

Serving others can be a big confidence booster during your job search and can really help you count your blessings.  Volunteering is one way to do that with some of the extra time you have during career transition.  Identify volunteer opportunities that feed your interests and get involved.

Although this should not be your primary motive, volunteering can often present hidden networking opportunities.  Volunteering shows potential employers your commitment to your community and is a good demonstration of your desire to help others.

As you read the words on this page, a group or non-profit association may already be coming to mind.  If not, visit for opportunities in your area.

To Do:
⬜ Choose an organization and schedule time in the next week or two to volunteer.
Plan A Vacation
This may sound strange, but now might just be the best time to get away.

At first, this might seem like procrastination or running away from your problems, but taking a vacation or trip can be a refreshing way to improve your attitude and get re-energized for your job search. 

Use this opportunity to reconnect with the people who are important in your life: your kids, spouse, friends, and family. 

It is all about how you look at life.  This period of job loss is a blessing in disguise that can help you reset your priorities and gain a new outlook. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

To Do:
⬜ Plan a vacation or weekend getaway.
Planning Your Time
Arguably the most precious resource you have is time.

Developing and maintaining the disciplines of planning and managing your time make you feel more in control.  Plan your schedule two weeks in advance and block off specific job search time and activities as well as personal time.  Here are some examples:

  • Identify decision makers from XYZ Company
  • Research new target companies
  • Work on marketing plan
  • Work on elevator speech
  • Create networking list
  • Write and send Thank You notes
  • Lunch with spouse
  • Coffee with John (former employer)
  • Respond to emails
  • Search for jobs online
  • Make phone calls to your network

Blocking out two weeks at a time on your calendar helps you ensure that the amount of time you are spending on your job search adds up to the number of hours a week that you planned.  This helps you be as productive as possible and remain focused.

The goal is to have your calendar drive your activity, rather than the unplanned less urgent items.  If you were currently employed, you would be clocking in and out.  To be successful in managing your time, you should be working on only the items that are listed on your calendar.  Be sure to check your calendar at the beginning of each week and at the start of each day.

Planning your activities out two weeks in advance significantly reduces your anxiety level because you always know what you are supposed to be doing and when.  It also significantly increases your efficiency.

To Do:
⬜ Plan the next two weeks on your calendar.
Your Checklist For This Chapter:

Complete this list of action items before moving on to the next section

Figure out your personal weekly/monthly salary.

Review a past assessment you have taken or take a new one.

Write 3-4 Success Stories.

Develop your “So, Tell Me About Yourself” story.

Create your Elevator Speech.

Memorize all of your stories & practice delivering them until you’re flawless.

Create your salary history using the Compensation History Template.

Review your career and identify any potential red flags.  Craft your speaking points about them.

Define your target discipline, industry, and title.

Identify three relevant associations and groups that support your industry/discipline and schedule 2 networking events.  Add them to your calendar.

Choose an organization and schedule time in the next week or two to volunteer.

Plan a vacation or weekend getaway.

Plan the next two weeks on your calendar.

Great job! You are now halfway through the Career Handler program.
Once you have completed all the items in your checklist, you can move on to section 4.
Advance To Section 4