How to Gather Feedback for Your Job Search
Remaining objective about your personality and career can be a difficult task. This problem doesn’t relate only to job seekers; even long employed professionals struggle with really knowing what they’re good at and what they need to improve on. So a tool was developed called 360-degree feedback, or multi-source feedback, where the subject receives honest input from his peers and managers.
Today, almost one-third of all U.S.-based companies rely on some kind of 360-degree feedback system to improve employee performance. As a job seeker, you want to take advantage of this type of feedback in order to better understand your strengths and guide your career search.
If you just go up to someone and say, Hey, tell me what I’m bad at, you’re not likely to get an honest answer. That’s why you have to either put some time into crafting your questions or use a tool that asks the questions for you.
If you plan to conduct your own 360-degree feedback, be sure you know exactly what you want to get out of your colleagues’ feedback before you send out e-mails or develop survey questions. If you need this feedback to double-check your values, find out what your passions are or see whether the next job is really going to be a fit and then be sure to ask questions that get you the information you need.
For example, if you’ve done blue ocean analysis and a values-elicitation exercise and the results show that you’re enthusiastic and even optimistic, then you may want to make sure people really perceive you this way. So your questions may be something like this: On a scale from one to ten, how enthusiastic would you say I am?
You also need to pay special attention to the sensitivities of your friends and co-workers. They may not have the time to write feedback for you. Or they may be afraid of offending you. So before you blast an e-mail out to everyone you know, asking them what they think about you, follow some of these tips:
Frame your questions in the future tense. Asking What can I do to be better at . . . ? moves the focus from feelings to future processes. People find it easier to respond honestly when they don’t have to worry about offending you.
To respect people’s time, offer them a chance to respond with numerical values. On a scale from one to ten, with ten being the highest, would you say I’m passionate about serving clients?
Make it possible for people to provide anonymous feedback. The more anonymous the feedback format, the more accurate the answers. You may consider using Google Docs to create a survey form or using SurveyMonkey, which is a free online survey tool.
Keep your opinion on the feedback to yourself. If you’re receiving feedback from someone in person, the only two words you should say when they’re done are thank you.
Conducting your own 360-degree feedback is great for keeping complete control over the types of questions you want to ask and is also much more personal than the form e-mails some tools send out.