It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of finding a job, but workplace psychologist Karissa Thacker says not to worry.
For Thacker, the founder and president of Strategic Performance Solutions, a management training and consulting firm that works with esteemed Fortune 500 companies to teach people about authentic leadership, success is just a matter of being yourself.
Since beingauthentic on the job search can help land a gig, here are Thacker’s tips for recent graduates seeking a first job that’s a good fit.
Get to know yourself
The root of the word “authentic” means “author” in Greek. Being authentic, suggests Thacker, means being the author of your own story — but before you can know your story, you have to know yourself.
“When I have conversations with college students who seem to like the book and really resonate with it, I always say, ‘You haven’t totally discovered who you are yet,’” Thacker said.
Before you can decide if a company is a good fit for you, you should have an idea of your strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Need a little help finding clarity? Thacker includesa character strength testin her book, which helps illuminateyour strongest and weakest personality traits.
Feel it out
Finding a job that brings out your most authentic self can only be achieved if you find a company that plays to your character strengths.
Start by taking what you know about your personality and asking yourself these questions during or after the interview: Do you connect with the people? Do you feel energized and excited about working for the company? What does the atmosphere feel like?
“So let’s say, for example, you have a character strength in fairness, and when you’re interviewing with companies you wanna think, ‘Well, do they talk about fairness, do they think about fairness, what kinds of stories did they tell?’” Thacker said.
Being authentic is also about being genuine. If you find yourself forcing conversation with the employees, it might not be the right fit.
“The thing that will define your early career is your ability to learn fast,” said Thacker. “If you’re not energized or interested in what’s going on there, you’re not going to learn from it.”
Give it a year
Thacker is aware of concerns about finding a good job after graduating. So if you’re not that excited about an opportunity, but for now it’s your best option, she suggests giving it at least a year.
The worst case scenario is that it’s a terrible fit, but at least you’ve learned something new.The best case scenario is that you’re pleasantly surprised by the results and learn things you didn’t know about yourself.
“This idea that we already know who we are and it’s fixed and rigid — be careful there. You can join a company and grow into it and realize you liked things you never knew you liked,” Thacker said.
According to Thacker, it’s just as important to move on from a job after a year as it is to give it a chance. If an opportunity comes along that’s a better fit, take it.
If you’re not sure about leaving your current position, Thacker says to make a simple list of pros and cons. If you do decide to leave, she says, “Be careful about timing and planning, and give people plenty of notice.” There’s no need to burn bridges.
And don’t worry too much about how job-hopping will look to future employers. Astudyby the professional networking site LinkedIn revealed that Millennials change jobs an average of four times before they’re 32.
Network, network, network
Everyone knows that networking is important when looking for a new job, but Thacker insists it’s about more than just collecting business cards. For example, she likes to use the birthday card function on LinkedIn to send personalized messages to people she hasn’t seen in awhile.
“You can think about networking as, ‘I’m going to add 20 business cards to my collection,’ or you can think about networking as, ‘These are people that I’ve worked with, and like, and actually have developed a rapport with, so I’m going to keep my relationships active with them,’” she said.
Thacker considers herself an introvert, but that hasn’t stopped her from career success. Her secret?All aspects of the job search, from interviewing to choosing to networking, are made easier when you “stay true to you and are consistent with your style.”