When you're applying for jobs, it's important -- ideal, even -- to focus on open roles that utilize your main strengths, as these are the roles you're most likely to succeed in. And to get these roles, you’ll need to showcase your strengths in your job application and personal branding materials (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, etc.). Even when you aren’t looking for new roles but are actively seeking out business partnerships or new clients, you’ll want your online persona to highlight your strengths.
But when was the last time you took an inventory of your main strengths as an employee? We find that many of our clients haven’t stepped back to consider what they’re good at in quite some time, and they are often uncomfortable patting themselves on the back for their achievements. There are a lot of Hollywood jobs that teach us to diminish ourselves and act grateful for the opportunity, without ever taking stock of what we're good at or expressing pride in our work. Not only does this mindset reduce confidence (an essential component of any job search!), but it also makes it a lot harder to target the right roles and craft materials that explain why you're the best candidate for a job.
So...how do you identify your strengths?
We recommend starting with a skills list. Make a list of all your previous roles and responsibilities within them, and then assess what skills you used to complete tasks and projects. Consider – what projects were most successful and why? If something you did was instrumental in the project’s success, this is likely one of your main strengths. Hopefully your skills list will help you see patterns in your experience that will help you identify your strengths.
Another way to pinpoint strengths is to make a list of your proudest accomplishments. This list might come from your skills list, or you could make it separately. It’s likely that your proudest achievements resulted from you leveraging your strengths to achieve a specific outcome or to overcome challenges that not every person would be able to tackle. So make sure you are actually considering what you did to get to the final product. Creating a list of achievements is a great confidence-booster, and it will help you pull anecdotes for interviews as well!
Finally, sometimes an outside perspective is really useful in helping you realize your strengths. What has your boss said about your strengths in your performance review? Is there something your colleagues or business partners have said that could clue you into your strengths? If there’s something you are getting praised for often, don’t brush it off! These little tidbits of information are actually very meaningful, and if someone bothered to give you a compliment, it typically means that others are noticing this strength of yours as well. It's also okay to ask a trusted friend, or even a career coach, for their opinion of your strengths if you’re having trouble acknowledging them. They'll also be able to help you identify the connection between your strengths and your interests, so you can focus on roles you'll be great at AND enjoy.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan