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Conveying Unique Competencies and Passions

Conveying Career Competencies and Passions

Written by Hannah Chism

"Conveying Career Competencies and Passions" has been published on The Marketing Alliance's website. On January 14, 2021 @ 1 PM MST we, Peripateo Consulting and The Marketing Alliance, are facilitating a webinar, where I discuss how to both identify and convey your strengths and skills to increase your employment opportunities.


"Conveying Career Competencies and Passions" is Part 2 to "Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions." This article unfolds how you convey your strengths and passions in order to secure a satisfying, congruent career.

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Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions

Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions

Written by Hannah Chism


What is the importance of knowing who we are? And how does it relate to your career?

Most individuals spend more waking hours working than anything else. Thus, this drives a central need for having a career one actually enjoys. Part of that enjoyment involves competency, as most people are success-oriented and derive gratification from self-efficacy. The other part of enjoying one’s career is passion or interest, as this fosters investment. For many, it seems one or the other is generally the situation either due to life circumstances (albeit education, physical or mental limitations, resources, life roles, etc.), limited self-awareness, low motivation, fear or intimidation, or other inhibiting factors. Often the default is to secure a job one is skilled at, rather than one that is enjoyable, as both may feel/be unattainable. When this occurs, it is crucial to create space for one’s passions and interests outside of one’s occupation (see Self-Care as An Essential Practice).

Thus, it is something to be celebrated when one is able to marry competency with passion in a job, as it is a rare occasion to find both. The most rewarding part of being a career coach and career counselor is helping individuals identify careers that encompass both their passions and competencies. In order to secure a career that embodies one’s strengths and passions requires two primary components: 1) identification of these areas 2) ability to convey one’s transferrable skills, competency, and investment. This article discusses the first component.

So, how do we figure out who the heck we are, as it relates to our careers?

In order to figure out who we are, involves reflecting on one’s identity. This can feel like a massive and overwhelming undertaking, as there is a daunting amount of data (contact a career coach or career counselor for assistance). One’s identity primarily encompasses values, passions, beliefs, interests, experiences, strengths, skills, and personality. For the sake of consistent language, I have categorized these components into two groupings. The first grouping is competency, which consists of skills, strengths, and background experiences. The second grouping is passion, which includes intrinsic motivation, interest, values, and beliefs. One must also consider personality, which can best be understood through reflecting on the roles one plays in various environments. This is important data for determining the type of company culture you would like to join. In order to gain self-awareness within each of these areas one must create space for reflection and take inventory of their life.

Process of Identification

There are several ways of acquiring data about who you are as it relates to your career. One avenue is through formal assessments, albeit personality, skills, or interest inventories. With formal assessments it is important to evaluate their reliability (consistency across time*), validity (accuracy of measurement tool*), and cultural relevance. Moreover, it is imperative to reflect on the results and determine if they feel congruent.

Another route of gathering relevant career data is through informal assessments, such as interviews, lists, or journaling. Again, the purpose of this process is to gather data about your areas of competency and passion. As aforementioned, competency involves strengths, skills, and background experience, while passion includes intrinsic motivation, interest, values, and beliefs. Two strategies for collecting such information can be accomplished through a reflective inventory or a career narrative.

Reflective Inventory

The inventory involves a close reflection of one’s life by asking oneself a series of questions. Some of these questions might include:

Passions, interests, values, and beliefs. Where do you spend your time? What breaks your heart most? When do you feel most alive?

Strengths. What have previous/current supervisors said about you? What have others said they like about you?

Background experiences. Which positive and negative experiences have stood out to you? What have you enjoyed in your previous jobs? What did you dislike in your previous jobs?

Skill sets. What skills have you developed in your professional experience? Which skills are transferrable from personal experiences?

Personality. What role do I play in the office? What role do I play at home? What role do I play in my friend group? Describe yourself in three words.

Career Narrative

A career narrative highlights your career goals by reflecting on how your experiences have informed your career aspirations. The practice of creating a career narrative can inform your career quest. Here is a link with information about creating a narrative. This narrative can be as long or short as it needs to be.

An Abbreviated Career Narrative While I do not often like to discuss myself nor my personal experiences professionally (much less in a blog), it feels pertinent for this article. Thus, below is my career narrative:

I am skilled at working with people. My strengths lie in intentional presence with others and asking insightful questions. I am passionate about people’s stories and communicating verbally and nonverbally that each life matters. I love working with repairing individuals’ stories, as each of us have our bruises. These bruises often impact our present life and inhibit us from living wholeheartedly. My personal background has given me the ability to empathize well with others. I received professional training in counseling in order to become a skilled counselor. I have a professional background in human resources, which has prepared me to guide others well in the career process. I have always played the role in social settings of being an insightful, intentional question-asker and encourager. I embody being a coach and therapist.

I am one of the fortunate few who has found a career that I am both passionate and competent at. I would love to walk alongside you in finding the same.

The End Goal

The point of these exercises is to identify your unique competencies and passions as they relate to your career. The next step involves conveying these areas in order to secure a job that embodies your passions and competencies. As you must know yourself in order to ‘sell’ yourself.

Finding Support Through the Process

Career decisions are often overwhelming. The process of reflecting on one’s competencies and passions is exhausting. It can be daunting to embark on an authentic reflective process as it relates to your career and is often set aside due to competing priorities and limited margin. However, a dissatisfying career greatly impacts one’s mental health and relationships; thus, increasing the importance of finding a satisfying, congruent career. Moreover, often when one does reflect on questions similar to the ones mentioned in the reflective inventory section or drafts a career narrative it can stir unresolved wounds or additional questions. If this occurs, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of a mental health professional to help you process through such emotions or questions. A career coach or career counselor can be helpful at gathering and guiding important data and channeling it into a summative, practical outcome with tangible career options.


*Houser, R. A. (2015). Counseling and educational research: Evaluation and Application, 3rd

A Satisfying and Congruent Career


Written by Hannah Chism

Demystifying the Idea of a Perfect Career

Have you ever gotten really excited about something (e.g.: upcoming trip, date, or event), only to find yourself disappointed by the actual outcome? Is the anticipation better than the reality? This is exactly how it is with careers. It seems we can be prone to the illusion that ‘perfect’ exists in the career world.

For example, if one desires to achieve complete autonomy and steps into entrepreneurship by launching their own business… Then yes, they may gain autonomy, however, they may lose camaraderie, gain administrative tasks, and exponentially increase fiscal responsibility. This may result in increased anxiety and isolation. Thus, it is important to assess the rewards versus the losses and weigh them accordingly. Do the downsides of one’s frustration of being managed by another outweigh one’s sense of isolation and anxiety?

The reality is there is no such thing as a perfect career or job, as there will be weaknesses or downsides to any job. When one has the mindset of searching for the perfect job, this can result in a sense of restlessness occupationally, where one may jump from job to job. This can leave a feeling of confusion, frustration, and discouragement. Thus, it is important to measure one’s expectations and find the best option available. Reality or perspective involves establishing a set of priorities and getting past the illusion that a perfect career exists. Instead one’s expectations can be measured by finding a congruent career.

Congruence Without Compromise

In order to secure a satisfying career, it must be a congruent one. This means a career that does not compromise one’s values, beliefs, passions, interests, experiences, strengths, skills, and personality. It means finding one that aligns with these areas to the extent possible. The most important part of determining best career fit is self-awareness. One must have insight into their values, beliefs, passions, interests, experiences, strengths, skills, and personality, in order to determine what type of career suits them best (see "Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions"). Within these areas, it is important to decide which hold the greatest importance and how this impacts one’s overall quality of life. Often one’s quality of life is determined by one’s lifestyle. One’s lifestyle is determined by one’s set of values. These values may shift in each season of life; thus, it is important to pay attention to what each season beckons for and adapt accordingly.

Adapting to Priorities

One must be adaptive to life’s ever-changing priorities. Most individuals spend more waking hours working than anything else. This is why it is important to consider both personal and professional ramifications when undergoing career exploration. In one season, it may make the most sense to work 60-hour weeks as you are establishing yourself as a professional. But that may only last while you are single or without kids. The next season, could require working a normal 40-hour week and setting aside climbing the ladder for a short time in order to take care of a sick family member or a newborn. Each season calls for something different and sometimes our priorities must shift and adapt. This is why it is crucial to identify the present season’s priorities and have a willingness to be flexible.

Within this, know that there is more to you than your career. There is more to life than a career. Moreover, certain seasons call for sacrificing relationships at the expense of one’s career, while others call for the reverse. Both take a certain amount of courage and sacrifice. Sometimes the greatest courage one can demonstrate is an honest reflection on whether one is living congruently with one’s values, beliefs, and self.

Lifestyle Considerations

There are various facets of a job that contribute to one’s lifestyle, thus impacting one’s overall quality of life. As aforementioned, these components may hold various weights in different seasons of life. Some of these aspects include: finances, flexibility, health benefits, paid time off, schedule (evening/day/weekends), geographic location, clock-in/clock-out, growth potential, or company culture. One’s personality should also be factored into the equation; however, this primarily impacts one’s consideration of company culture in job seeking. The weight given to each of these components is often dictated by one’s family structure, roles, and set of priorities.

Career Considerations

There are various motivating factors when selecting a career, aside from lifestyle considerations. Here are two primary motivating factors in career selection. The first is competency, which includes one’s strengths, skills, and background experiences. The second is passion, which includes intrinsic motivation, values, beliefs, and interests. Each person assigns a different value to each of these motivating factors; thus, it is important to assess your primary motivations in selecting a career.

Strategies for Identifying Priorities

So how does one go about establishing a set of priorities in their career quest? First, one must determine their priorities. This can be accomplished by reflecting on how one spends one’s time (actual) versus how one would like to spend their time (hoped for). Creating a pie chart is often a nice visual representation of this. Next, create a list or mind-map these priorities. Second, one must assign a weight to each priority. This can be accomplished by simply rank ordering each category to determine its priority level. Another option is to create a pie chart of one’s priorities in life and assign a certain percentage to each area. Creating a spreadsheet is also a viable option.


Again, most individuals spend more waking hours working than anything else. One’s career touches everything. Extensive stress at work, a highly demanding job, or job dissatisfaction greatly impacts one’s mental health and relationships. For example, anxiety and depression can arise from a dissatisfying or stressful job. This is why one’s career cannot be everything. If it is, then one will not be a whole, well-rounded person. It is imperative to incorporate elements of self-care into one’s daily life. Self-care can also be an avenue of incorporating the deficit areas of one’s career (e.g.: if one’s career aligns with competency yet lacks alignment with passions or interests).

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

This has been a difficult article to construct as it nearly feels like a cynical perspective. It shakes off beautiful innocence. The question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” starts as soon as we are born (e.g.: parents wondering what their child will be when they grow up, children playing with certain toys, etc..). And, as the years go by the answer becomes more and more pragmatic based on societal roles (see Linda Gottfredson’s work), expectations, and other inhibiting factors. So, in an effort to not undo everything I have written above, I implore this: Yet do not forget to DREAM. Part of securing a satisfying, congruent career, involves dreaming. The pragmatic work occurs after the dreaming. The nuts and bolts get worked out after we have dreamed and takes shape into the best suited career.

Do Not Be Afraid of Shifting Gears

Intentionally changing jobs, may be an avenue for acquiring intel… It is just as important to know what we do not want versus what we desire. This often requires experiencing what we do not enjoy first. The key is to not chase something illusive. Do not let the shame of changing jobs, hold you back from seeking a congruent career. Though embarrassment may be had, do not let this rule your career quest. Seek and search for a satisfying, congruent career not a perfect one.


My conceptual understanding of job and career theory has primarily been derived from theorists/theories mentioned in the text below. These theorists include John Holland (person-environment), Duane Brown (Values Based), Linda Gottfredson (Circumscription and Compromise), Frank Parsons (Trait N Factor), and Donald Super (Career Development Theory).
Niles, S., & Harriw-Bowlsbey, J. (2017). Career Development Interventions, 5th Ed. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Tips for Virtual Interviews

The Season of Virtual Interviews

COVID-19 Pandemic


Anticipating an upcoming virtual interview? Check out this article for virtual interviewing tips. I especially appreciate the recommendation to have a bullet-pointed list of reminders on your screen/closeby, as this is not something we generally get the liberty of during in-person interviews.

Cover Letter Advice

A Simple Strategy to Tailor Your Cover Letter

By Hannah Chism

Demonstrate your investment in the company’s mission and vision, by either paraphrasing or citing the company’s mission statement in your closing paragraph of how you will personally contribute to their mission.


*For additional cover letter insights, contact me today to schedule a free consultation!

Interview Tip

Interview Tip

By Hannah Chism

Connect with your interview panel. When interviewing, you are seeking to create an alliance or connection with each person on the interview panel, as they will likely all collaborate on the top candidate selection. While the hiring manager or your potential boss certainly needs to feel that connection, it is important to get buy-in from the other team members as well. If possible, find a way to make each person on the interview team feel seen and valued, regardless of their position. Some of the ways this can be accomplished:

  • Eye contact throughout your interview with each person on the interview panel
  • Remembering each person’s name
  • Paying attention to little comments they make in passing about their lives
  • Individual thank you cards/emails addressed to each person on the interview panel after the interview

Remember the value of connection and how it makes others feel!

Resume Tip

Tailor Your Resume

By Hannah Chism

Tailor your resume to each position you apply for. Employers want to know you are truly interested in the position and their company. Be sure to review and tweak your resume to provide relevant experience, skills, certifications, trainings, strengths, etc. Move transferable experience to the top bullets of each section. This may require rearranging the format of your resume. Prove your investment with the employer’s first impression!