To be truly work-ready, students must recognise and understand their potential. The purpose of the 'Personal Development' module is to enhance students' understanding of themselves. It aims to provide them with the skills to evaluate their attitudes and identify their personal strength, and the strategies to build on areas for improvement. This module includes activities that will help students to develop an awareness of their own identity in order to make the career choices that best reflect their interests, values and goals; and prepare them to enter the workforce with confidence.

On completion of this module students should:

  • Identify their personal strengths and personality traits, and understand how  these relate to successful life choices
  • Be aware of the personality traits most sought by employers
  • Recognise the core values that underlie their own choices and behaviours
  • Understand how core values impact on the function or dysfunction of the workplace
  • Promote a positive self-image through presentation, dress and body language
  • Understand the importance of a positive mindset in improving self-confidence
  • Project a positive attitude towards life, study and work
  • Initiate personal self-marketing strategies to enhance their employment prospects
  • Identify their preferred leaning style and effective SWOT strategies
  • Appreciate the benefits of volunteering in making a difference in other people's  lives and towards their own personal growth
  • Recognise networking opportunities
  • Evaluate constructive and destructive criticism, and effectively deal with both
  • Understand how to accept and offer constructive feedback
  • Set goals and the strategies to work towards these

There is so much for students to think about when planning their future career pathways. Family, friends and teachers alike inundate them with questions and often, quite unfairly, expect them to be able to identify their goals and stride towards them with purpose. But future career goals are not always clear, especially when you are a teen who is busy dealing with the obligations of school, family and social pressures. The difficulty is, knowing where to start.

The Getting To Know You activity is designed as a starting point to get your students into the habit of thinking a little deeper about themselves. In going over the responses to the following questions they begin to identify such things as their motivations, fears, interests and values. When students gain a better understanding of these things, they can begin to put together a plan for their future that is more clearly focused on the things that are relevant to their lives.

This activity can be a launching point for valuable class discussion as students share their thoughts and ideas. Get your students to keep their answers and revisit them throughout the Work Ready Program.

How many of their answers changed over the course?

The dream jobs to which we aspired as children are often a reflection of our passions and talents. There are quite a few careers that kids often dream of – firefighter, artist, hairdresser, doctor, singer – that actually fit with the likes, talents and values that are established at a young age. When children aspire to work in a certain profession, those dreams aren’t so childish. The dream jobs of our childhood often give us a sense of our true passions and talents.

If as a child, someone dreamed of being a vet because they loved and wanted to look after animals, there is a good chance that they will end up in a career related to animals. It may not necessarily be as a vet, but it may be working with animals in a sanctuary, as a veterinary nurse or even as a dog groomer.

This is an interesting activity to do with your students, especially if they are having difficulty identifying what they would like to do when they leave school. This exercise asks students to reflect on the reasons they were interested in their childhood dream careers. If the career still aligns with their interests and talents, it is an ideal springboard to explore further or consider similar options.


Personality domains are the basic structure behind the many different personality traits that occur together consistently in a person, making them the way they are. Personality plays an important role in the dynamics of human interaction in the classroom and the workplace. To be work-ready, understanding personality domains and traits and the way these relate to the patterns and behaviours in the workplace, makes the transition to work a lot smoother. Students need to recognise and understand their own personality so that they can highlight and explain their strengths on their CV or to a prospective employer.

There are considered to be five broad domains to human personality, known as the ‘Big 5’. Each domain underpins several personality traits. Because they explain the way people behave and interact in the workplace, many employers and human resource specialists are aware of and look out for certain personality traits. Students should be assured that it takes all types to make up a productive workforce, so they need to concentrate on their strengths.

The BIG 5 Personality domains are:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism
Openness describes somebody’s degree of curiosity and creativity and their preference for freedom of expression. A person high on this scale is likely to be unconventional and creative. They may contribute to the work situation by approaching a problem from an entirely different angle to come up with an effective solution. They are independent thinkers who can challenge the status quo and introduce new ideas.
Extraversion is the measure of a person’s warmth, energy and assertiveness. Somebody high on this scale would be outgoing, social and talkative. An extrovert in the workplace will motivate those around them. They are often born marketers who are willing to take risks to improve the business or build the brand.
Neuroticism describes a person’s degree of self-confidence and emotional stability. Somebody high on this scale can be prone to depression and anxiety. No matter how talented, a colleague high on this scale will need a lot of reassurance. However, a colleague lower on this scale will often provide a cautious balance and stability.
Conscientiousness describes a person’s tendency towards planning and self-discipline. They are often strategists with a vision for the future. Somebody high on this scale is usually well organised and a high achiever. A workplace needs somebody like this to keep things on track and ensure work standards remain high.
Agreeablenes describes how cooperative and dependable somebody is. A person who scores high on this scale is usually caring and compassionate. This colleague is usually a team player, and the person others turn to. This colleague is also a multi-tasker  who is willing to step outside the role to do whatever is necessary.

Personality traits are the temperament and patterns of behaviour that make a person who they are.

There are only five personality domains, but there are numerous personality traits that are associated with each domain. They are the things that people may like or dislike about us. Personality traits are sometimes referred to as ‘soft skills’ and all of us, no matter our education or experience, have soft skills. At this stage students don’t have a lot of the industry skills and experience a potential employer is looking for. However, if a student is able to identify and explain their soft skills, they can really sell themselves. An employer places a lot of value on personality traits, especially those that add value to the work environment.

Personality traits are not difficult to demonstrate on a CV. The list below provides a starting point for class discussion by getting students to identify traits they believe they have and provide examples of how they have demonstrated these in their school life, their home life or in community and sporting activities. The list is by no means exhaustive, so get them to think of more.









Works well under pressure

Effective communicator


As they prepare to enter the workforce, students will have to call upon their own values to make plans and decisions on how they will live their lives. It will make their decisions a lot easier if they understand and acknowledge their own values and this will assist in making the decisions on such questions as ‘What job should I pursue?’ or ‘Should I start my own business?’ For example, a job that requires a 55-hour week will cause conflict and stress for somebody who places great importance on the value of home and family life.

These are fundamental internal beliefs that are often instilled in us as children and there are many of them

  • Religious beliefs
  • Honesty
  • Hard work and diligence
  • The importance of family

Companies also have core values that are the guiding principles to their work practices. These are usually defined in the company mission statement and may include such things as

  • A commitment to environmental sustainability – perhaps sourcing renewable energies or practising recycling in the workplace.
  • A commitment to innovation and creativity – encouraging young inventors and entrepreneurs or sponsoring local festivals.
  • A commitment to humanitarianism – some corporations source products in support of small communities in the Third World.

It almost goes without saying that people are often happier working for a company whose mission statement aligns with their own core values.

Companies also have core values that are the guiding principles to their work practices. These are usually defined in the company mission statement and may include such things as

  • A commitment to environmental sustainability – perhaps sourcing renewable energies or practising recycling in the workplace.
  • A commitment to innovation and creativity – encouraging young inventors and entrepreneurs or sponsoring local festivals.
  • A commitment to humanitarianism – some corporations source products in support of small communities in the Third World.

It almost goes without saying that people are often happier working for a company whose mission statement aligns with their own core values.

A mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company or an organisation. It is there to provide direction or purpose to the company and its staff.

Connecting with companies whose mission statements reflect similar values and goals is often a recipe for employment satisfaction and success. Therefore, your students will benefit from writing a personal mission statement that outlines their own aims and values. It will help them to focus their aims and provide motivation as they enter the workforce. It is also a good self- marketing tool if added to their CV. In short, the personal mission statement can be a brief personal pitch, giving potential employers a succinct outline of a student’s sense of purpose.

Students identify and articulate their personal values. A greater understanding of these will help them to set career and life goals, with a better vision of their future.

Negative Core Values
Of course not all core values are positive. Negative core values can also dictate the way life or business is conducted. Both people and corporations can be driven by self-interest and greed. History is littered with examples of lies and corruption and putting profit before people.
Classroom Discussion You could discuss examples of how people and corporations can be driven by self-interest and greed with your students. Include the efforts or inactivity of government and industry to rectify these problems of corruption and putting profit before people, such as sweatshops and the fashion industry.

Sometimes communities, schools, corporations or families can be dysfunctional. This happens when there is a lack of shared values. or things to run smoothly when people are living and working together, there needs to be a shared vision and agreed rules.
There can also be inconsistencies in what is said and what is done. Remind your students that a core value is only a true core value if it is reflected in the way a person conducts their life or a corporation conducts their business (for most of the time anyway.)

Changing Values
Although core values remain fairly consistent throughout life, students will find that as they move through life the importance they place on some values are likely to change. Early in a career is often the time when there is great importance placed on hard work to get ahead. Later on, getting ahead may not be as important as time spent with friends and family.
If a person’s values and the way they are living their life don’t match, it is likely to cause unhappiness or dissatisfaction. This is why revisiting values occasionally will help to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Throughout life we are called on to make choices or decisions that are quite often difficult. Making the choice that we know is right can be less difficult if we use our values to guide us. Of course, to do this, we need to be able to identify our values.

Making the right choices - 6 easy steps
1. Don’t be afraid of making the wrong decision.
2. Don’t let that voice inside your head over-analyse the situation.
3. Make the decision and run with it.
4. Trust your instinct but don’t confuse this with your desire.
5. Will your choice benefit everybody?
6. Keep your head/heart balance.

SELF-IMAGE is the way we visualise or perceive ourselves. It is a mix of our thoughts and feelings, our hopes, dreams and abilities, and even the perception of our physical self. Self-image affects both self-confidence and self-esteem, but is far more complex because it is shaped by the events that have happened in our lives, and, in turn, can shape future events.Our self-image has a huge impact on our happiness and our outlook on life because it involves our internal judgment of ourselves.
SELF-CONFIDENCE is a kind of inner strength. People with self confidence have faith in themselves and their ability to take on any task. If a person wishes success in life, self-confidence certainly makes it easier.
SELF-ESTEEM People with good self-esteem respect and value their own worth. As the saying goes, if someone doesn't respect themselves, how can they expect other people to?

Expect What You Project
Self-confidence and self-esteem go hand in hand. Working on one will help to build the other. If you give your students the skills and strategies to develop their self-confidence in the classroom, there is every chance that they will carry this into a job interview and into the workplace. Potential employers can tell if somebody has low self-esteem. A person with self-confidence will project this in their outlook and their actions. Having self-confidence helps people to relate to others better, even at those nervewracking job interviews. Working with your students on their self-confidence will build their self-esteem and broaden their opportunities in work and in life.

Easier Said Then Done
Teens need to understand that it is perfectly natural to feel down about themselves from time to time. This is a time in your students’ lives where there is change and uncertainty, so understandably they might not feel confident or capable in everything they do. Unfortunately it is easy to get stuck in a negative mindset and if this goes on for too long it can be a sign of low self-esteem.

A person with low self-esteem will:

  • Focus on the negative
  • Be super self-critical
  • Compare themselves unfavourably to others
  • Practice negative self-talk
  • Not know the value of their own worth
  • Have difficulty making simple decisions
  • Take things too personally
  • Give up easily
  • Won’t accept compliments
  • Are afraid to give their opinion

If your students recognise any of these signs, there are strategies that can be practised to change that mindset and put them on the path to a more positive outlook and more positive self-esteem. It will put them on the path to self-confidence. Remember, it is not always as easy as it seems. These strategies take time and practise and sometimes you will have to remind them that it is okay to fake it ‘til you make it!

  • Challenge the negative self-talk. If the inner voice starts telling you that you’re no good at something or you’ll never get that job, you might just start believing it. Don’t take that inner voice so seriously. It’s an idiot and always exaggerates. Tell it to stop. You would not accept those insults from anybody else. Don’t accept them from yourself!
  • Mistakes? Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. Every single one of us! We’re only human. A mistake is an opportunity to learn. Move on.
  • Focus on your strengths and what you can do. Don’t dwell on what you think are your negative qualities. So you stumbled a little with your class presentation, but your classmates enjoyed it and your teacher respected your efforts.
  • Failure is not to be feared. It can be a positive. Look at it. Learn from it, and know that it is a lesson towards success.
  • Offer encouragement instead of criticism. Constructive advice is far better received than criticism, and classmates and colleagues are more likely to return the favour with encouragement of their own.
  • Accept that perfection is too high and stressful an aim. You will only end up punishing yourself. Be realistic about what you are capable of and strive to do the best you can. Accept yourself!
  • Guilt gets you nowhere. Accept the blame and apologise if you are in the wrong, but don’t assume that you are to blame for everything. Not everything is your problem.!
  • Other people’s feelings and actions are their own responsibility, not your burden.
  • Be kind whenever you can. Kindness is a mood booster for everybody involved.
  • Forgive and forget. If you have been wronged in the past, it is beyond your control. Dwelling on it in the present will cloud your moods and your emotions. Work things through with a friend or counsellor if you must, then move on.
  • Give your opinion. What you have to say is worth something
  • Choose to look on the bright side. If you are offered a compliment, accept it graciously instead of being suspicious of its intent. Look at a setback as an opportunity for growth. If it’s raining outside, put on some music and catch up on some study indoors. (And anyway, rain is good for the garden.)
  • Confront your fears. That’s right, do the thing you fear the most and it won’t seem so bad. Ask your boss for a pay rise. Audition for that band. What’s the worse thing that could happen? They can only say ‘no’.
  • Schedule time for yourself each day. Do something you enjoy. Treat yourself to coffee and cake occasionally.
  • Wasting energy worrying about things you cannot change or control is pointless and frustrating. Concentrate instead on the things that you can change. You can’t change the fact that you are going to have to sit that exam, but if you study for it you can improve your marks.
  • Figure out what you want to do with your life and have something to aim for.
  • Prepare yourself for the things you need to do. Re-write, revise, and rehearse that talk you have been asked to give in class. You will be more comfortable and more confident. And confidence is catchy!
  • Celebrate your achievements no matter how small they may seem. Each step is an important part of your journey. Also look at how far you have already come.
  • Don’t compare yourself with other people. So what if they are better at some stuff? Everyone is good at something and so are you. It’s up to you to figure out what it is.
  • Surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you and appreciate your worth. Avoid people who are negative, they will only bring you down and life’s too short for that.

Developing positive self-confidence is not only about changing the mindset, there are simple things that can be done in day-to-day life

  • Speak clearly
  • Breathe deeply
  • Keep your back straight and your head held high – don’t slouch!
  • Look people in the eye
  • Exercise or play a sport
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Focus on what you are doing or saying

As teachers we sometimes observe attitudes and behaviours in our students that are concerning. These behaviours may have been highlighted by some of the points and activities in this section. It is quite natural to lack confidence and also to have poor self-esteem at times. More often than not, time, experience and positive strategies can help to overcome this. If students have a realistic self-image and understand their strengths as well as their shortcomings they will find a healthy balance in life. However, if you have observed any of your students displaying the signs of a particularly negative self-image, it may be that no amount of positive talk and clever strategies will help. You might like to suggest talking to an organisation, counsellor, trusted friend or a doctor.

This quiz will touch on strategies towards helping students to develop a better self-esteem.
From time to time we all need to be reminded of our positive qualities.

Attitude is defined as a state of emotion or a state of mind. Our attitude effects our emotional environment as well as the people around us. It affects the way we feel about life, the choices we make, and the way we pursue our dreams. A positive attitude is a state of mind that demonstrates optimism. Science tells us that there is a connection between a positive attitude, happiness and success.

Entering the workforce can be daunting at the best of times for your students. Entering the workforce with a positive attitude will make it less so. One of the best things you can do is to arm your students with the strategies for developing and maintaining a positive attitude.

These strategies will help them to deal with the challenges that are before them. Positivity rubs off on others and opens the door to opportunity.

Positive vs Negative
A negative attitude brings pessimism and a low expectation of success. People with a negative outlook are more inclined to cope badly with life’s challenges, lack motivation, have more worries, and be more prone to anxiety and depression. A positive attitude brings optimism and the belief that success can be achieved, whether that is in relationships, work or happiness.

Positive people are more likely to be motivated and have more energy to handle life’s challenges. Positive people are more likely to achieve their goals because they believe in themselves.

Here are a few simple strategies to help your students make positivity a habit in their daily lives.

Tips To Developing a Positive attitude

  • Use positive words as often as possible
  • Reframe challenges so that they become learning experiences
  • Accept rejection not as failure, but as practice
  • Stay out of other people’s problems
  • Think of solutions when problems arise
  • Associate with optimistic people
  • Make someone smile
  • Positive people:

    • Think creatively
    • Act constructively
    • Inspire others
    • Expect success
    • Look for solutions
    • Recognise opportunities

There is a connection between a positive attitude and success. This activity encourages the use of positive language and thinking in everyday life

Encouraging positive journalling can help to change a negative mindset

Assessment Task