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A Simple Tool That Could Improve Your Job Search

A sculpture of two speech bubbles.

Evaluating your contributions and presenting them to employers are essential aspects of any job search. However, it can become difficult to do this if you are out of the workforce and lack access to insights you typically get on your next employee review. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have fresh feedback that outlines your competencies and areas for growth?

One work-around is to employ a 360 feedback survey. This is a tool used by organizations to gain the combined perspectives of one’s supervisor, subordinates, colleagues, and even clients or other external partners familiar with your work (responses are anonymous). The rationale for surveying different cohorts is that it gives a more complete view of the way you are seen by others.

The main purpose of the 360 is to collect objective views of an employee’s accomplishments, constructive feedback, and insight into potential areas of growth. Its usefulness in your job search comes into play for the same reasons. Perhaps there are strengths that you’ve been overlooking---your 360 serves as a reminder and allows you to put those skills and accomplishments at the forefront.

In addition to adding important insights to your resume or interview spiel, these details can help you identify potential areas for growth, the kind of work you should pursue, and the types of working environments in which you will thrive. The responses will also identify potential areas for growth and there’s no time like the present to focus on enhancing your skills for your next gig.

How to start getting feedback

You can obtain your feedback by asking former supervisors and co-workers, as well as family members, friends, and other individuals in your circle to serve as your “respondents.” By including people from all aspects of your life, you’ll get a true 360-degree view of the way others perceive you.

Find the right people

Be sure to select individuals who know you well. Casual acquaintances are less likely to provide accurate feedback. Some examples of people to seek out:

  • A team member from an ongoing, long-term school, volunteer, or work project.
  • Someone who is aware of the work you put into coordinating a family reunion, party, community organization, etc.
  • A friend who has witnessed you work through a major life obstacle or problem.
  • A mentor who has seen your professional growth over an extended period of time.
  • A relative who you speak to regularly about everything you’ve been doing in your job search/quest to find a book publisher/some other personal endeavor.
  • A longstanding fellow member of a support group, book club, or parent-teacher association who really “gets” you and knows your personality really well.

For best results, be sure to have feedback from at least 12-15 respondents. The results should tell you how they see the “real you” as well as your most recognized attributes and skills.

Use the right platform and ask the right questions

There are several online tools you can use to conduct your 360, some of which are free. They will provide you with pre-selected questions, an email template to send to your respondents, and tallied results. The 360Reach will ask your respondents questions pertaining to who you are, rather than how well you perform a particular task. If you are in fact looking for performance feedback, try PopForms (fee-based) or 3sixty, which allows you to gain feedback on a specific goal you’ve worked on or will be working on. If you prefer to keep things simple and low-tech, the Society for Human Resource Management has a leadership focused template you can look at to get a sense of the kinds of questions you might want to ask.

Make the most of the feedback

Once you’ve collected enough responses, use them to help you answer these questions:

  • Of the skills and attributes listed, which most closely align with those employers are seeking? How can I present those effectively on my resume? On a job interview?
  • What are examples from my work history that demonstrate times when I’ve used those skills and attributes successfully? What were my results?
  • What does the feedback tell me about my preferred work environment, culture, management style, etc?
  • Which career opportunities that I haven’t tapped yet would be a good fit for me?
  • What else do the results tell me about how people perceive me, areas for growth, etc?

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by Victoria Crispo

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