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June 14, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

Why Do I Keep Hearing About Self-reflection?

By Cyrielle Mevel, Employability Education Projects Officer

Whether it’s part of your degree or an extra-curricular activity you are doing, you will have probably heard about the importance of self-reflection at some point.

Employers are also constantly citing self-reflection and self-awareness as being two of the top skills that are the most sought after.

But what does self-reflection mean and why do you keep hearing about it?

What is self-reflection?

Self-reflection is the ability to think critically about past experiences by considering:

1. What you have done

2. What you have learned

3. Whether you could do things differently

Whilst self-reflection comes naturally to some people, others may struggle. And even if you keep hearing about it, you may struggle to find the time to self-reflect!

Why is it important? Why need it?

Self-reflection is the key to personal and professional development: it’s one thing to be involved in an activity but another to be able to understand what you have learned from it. Through self-reflection, you will actively learn about yourself and face new challenges in a more effective way.

Think about your academic studies, an internship or a placement, some volunteering work that you did, an extra-curricular activity, what have you learned?

– What are the skills/strengths that you developed? What are the challenges you overcame?

– What are your learning gaps and what do you need to develop?

– How can you apply your learning in future opportunities?

– Would you do anything differently?

Most people are more self-reflective than they actually realise simply because most of us want to keep progressing!

Self-reflection is at the core of everything that you do such as when:

– You go through a recruitment process: self-reflection is part of the preparation so that you can think of the best types of examples to illustrate your answers when using the STAR technique

– You want to progress in the workplace: self-reflection will allow you to meet your business and career objectives

– You want to develop yourself more generally. Self-reflection is a lifelong skill that goes beyond your university experience or your job!

There are two types of self-reflection:

1. Reflection-in-action which takes place during an event

2. Reflection-on-action which takes place after an event and can involve using your observation or listening skills to solve a problem.

If you feel like you are struggling with your self-reflection skills, rest assured! This skill can be learned and developed. Here’s how:

How to develop it?

1. Use this short reflective practice self-assessment questionnaire to assess where you are at

2. Learn from the Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle model which provides you with a framework to analyse each phase of an event and will get you to think about what you have learned:

Description: what happened, where and when was it?

Feelings: what did you feel before, during and after? What do you feel now?

Evaluation: what went well and not so well? How did people contribute to this?

Conclusions: how could this have been more positive? What would you do differently? What skills do you need to develop?

Actions: how will you do this?

3. Look for opportunities that allow you to develop essential self-reflection skills such as critical thinking/analysis, problem-solving, time management, communication and emotional awareness.

4. Complete our online self-reflection course

5. Keep a journal of the experiences that have had an impact on your personal and professional development and share them with people around you (whether it’s in the recruitment process of the workplace)!

6. Book some time to self-reflect and don’t wait too long to do it, otherwise you may forget some key details!

7. If you are struggling to book time, think about what your end goal is and how self-reflection will help you achieve it: are you preparing for an interview? Are you looking for ways to progress in the workplace?

How we can support you

Struggling to make sense of an experience? Book an appointment with us to develop your self-reflection.

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