Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Improve Self-Esteem Skills & Self-Management: Job Skills Part 5

Learning how to identify and improve your beliefs, handle setbacks, and show responsibility are Foundation Skills for the 21st Century.  In Part 5 of this 6 part Improving Job Skills series, we look at personal qualities, like self-esteem, self-management and responsibility.  We'll recommend ways to strengthen yours. First, visit the Career Key website article on Foundation Skills for a quick overview and free download of the 17 Foundation Skills.

Foundation skills related to Personal Qualities:


  • Understand how beliefs affect how a person feels and acts;
  • "Listen" to and identify irrational or harmful beliefs you may have;
  • Understand how to change these negative beliefs when they occur.


  • Assess your knowledge and skills accurately;
  • Set specific, realistic goals;
  • Monitor progress toward your goal.
Practice self-management skills by using the ACIP decision making process at the Career Key website to choose or change careers - or use it for any important life decision you are facing.


  • Work hard to reach goals, even if task is unpleasant;
  • Do quality work;
  • Display high standard of attendance, honesty, energy, and optimism.
This may seem obvious, but we all have encountered people in school or at work who show a lack of responsibility.  Think critically about your own work or efforts - do you care about what you do? How you treat others? Are there personal standards you could improve?  Everybody wants others to think they are responsible, but the real person who's important in this is you.

Recommended Activities
Because there is so much to say about self-esteem skills, I'm primarily focusing these recommended activities on that job skill in this blog post.

Self-Esteem Skills
Low self-esteem can have several negative impacts - you are less likely to choose an occupation that fits your abilities and your work-performance will suffer.  Low self-esteem also affects your relationships with others and your health.

Your beliefs control how you feel.  As William Shakespeare said, "There is nothing either good or bad by thinking makes it so."  This simple but powerful idea explains why your self-esteem is positive or negative. So understanding your beliefs and being able to change them is critical to improving your self-esteem skills, enabling you to handle the inevitable setbacks and difficulties of working.

  • Think of a time when you have had a setback or disappointment at work or in school. Apply this A-B-C approach to it:
    • A: What was the Activating event? What started the experience?
    • B: What Beliefs did you have about it?
    • C: What were the Consequences of your belief about what happened? How did you feel about it?
    • Example: Sam, a second-year social studies teacher, is trying a new way to teach students about the U.S. Constitution. When he tries it out, the students find it confusing and frustrating.  Instead of thinking, "Why can't I do things right? Why didn't I see this wasn't going to work? What a waste of time!," Sam thinks, "I'm disappointed, but I will learn from this and try something different next time."
      • A: Sam tried a new learning activity that confused and frustrated his students.
      • B: He believed, "It will go better next time. It's not the end of the world."
      • C: He felt disappointed but was willing to try something different another time.
  • Think of a setback or disappointment that you feel you did not handle well (It may be the same one you chose above).  Learn and practice these skills:
    • Understand how your beliefs affected how you felt and acted. 
    • Listen to what you said about yourself to identify irrational or harmful beliefs you may have.
    • Understand how to avoid these negative beliefs and substitute positive ones.
    • Keep a "Thought Log" by writing 3 columns on a piece of paper: A: Activating Event, B: Beliefs, C: Consequences: Feelings and Behavior. The next time you have an emotional event or encounter a disappointment, evaluate what happened using this Thought Log.
Learn to look for and avoid these common irrational and harmful beliefs that cause low self-esteem:
  1. I am a bad, unloveable person if someone rejects me.
  2. I am a bad or worthless person when I act weakly or stupidly.
  3. I must be approved or accepted by people I find important!
  4. I can't stand really bad things or very difficult people.
  5. I must do well in everything I do or it is terrible.
(from A. Ellis, 1992, in L.K. Jones, Encyclopedia of Career Change and Work Issues, pp. 242-246, The Oryx Press.)

You may also find this article on "catastrophizing" helpful.

Bottom Line: Having positive, realistic beliefs about life is the key to success. By believing in yourself and your ability to improve, learning from your mistakes and "bouncing back" from disappointment you show self-esteem skills. You will be successful.

Previous posts in this series:
Part 1: Getting Started with Job Skills: 3 Reasons to be Optimistic
Part 2: Improving (Not So) Basic Skills
Part 3: Thinking Skills
Part 4: People Skills

Next week - the final wrap up with "Identifying Your Motivated Skills: Skills You Enjoy Using the Most."

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