It takes only a gander at those horrifying People of WalMart pictures that circulate on the web to know that there are a good many people out there who have no earthly idea how they come across to others. And, unfortunately, the lack of self-awareness extends way beyond camo-patterned spandex and ill-advised tube tops.
Truly not knowing how other people perceive you could be a big handicap in landing a job. (Not caring is something different.)
I've told this story before in this blog: Some time ago when I was nearing the due date for having my son, I felt like a manatee, both in my size and seemingly endless gestation period. My physical discomfort came across as irritability and impatience. A guy we'd just hired around that time told me later that he was scared to death of me.
After I was back from maternity leave, he was able to discern just how adorable I really was and we became great friends. Fortunately, that was a situational thing that remedied itself.
But we all know that co-worker who knows a lot but who tries to show it the wrong way -- with long discourses or condescending, "I can't believe you don't know this" tones. When that person is not appreciated for his knowledge, he is dumbfounded. And in this age of people seemingly unable to deliver criticism, the behavior goes unacknowledged and keeps happening in the next job.
I've known people who think they are actually very driven when they're just solid Type Bs. There's nothing wrong with being a Type B, but don't present yourself otherwise, or you'll surely disappoint an employee who has different expectations of you.
I don't usually suggest that employers hire staff based on the results of personality testing, but I do think those tests can be a good tool in giving you a snapshot of yourself if you have problems getting an objective view.
Here's a link to a free Myers-Briggs test that I recently took. I scored as an INFJ, which I think is pretty close to how I see myself. The test takes just a few minutes. Check it out.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.