We always hear that those who use their strengths, at home and at work, lead more productive and happier lives. We are inundated with messages about using our strengths and doing what we love, but how do we move forward if we don’t know what those strengths are?
As a coach, I see my clients struggle to talk about what they are good at, or identify their strengths. This is because we are programmed to focus on what’s wrong and what we need to improve. When the time comes to determine our strengths, many people turn to a coach or take any number of assessments. These four tools will help you examine past and current experiences to find your strengths on your own.
1. Examine your job description
Remember that job description? You probably received one during your first week at work and lost it right away in a frenzy of trainings. Take a look at the tasks on that job description and highlight the responsibilities you really enjoy, have revamped or blown out of the water. If you don’t have access to a job description, keep a notepad with you for 3-5 days and start a job journal, jotting down the things you do during the day. This journal will help jog your memory of additional items for the list. You can use your journal in the same way as a job description to find themes in what you are good at.
2. Revisit performance reviews
It’s time to stop focusing on the ‘areas of improvement’ in your annual review. Your performance reviews are so much more! Use your reviews to gather information about your strengths from an outside perspective.
3. Just ask
Your boss isn’t the only one that gets to weigh in on what you’re good at. Ask colleagues, friends or family members where they think you shine. These people know you best and know when to call on you for help or advice. The things people depend on you for are your strengths.
4. Create a skill-based resume
Your resume is like your job description on steroids. The biggest accomplishments of your career are recounted in your voice. It’s time to turn your traditional resume on its ear. Take the bullets and bring your proudest accomplishments and the things you enjoyed doing the most right to the top. Before you know it, you’ll have a comprehensive list of your top skills.
A client once told me the only thing he did at his job was look for another. It gave us a good laugh, but after taking some time to reflect on his experiences, and doing the 4 steps, he was able to create a clear picture of what he was good at and how to move forward to capitalize on his strengths.
You, too, can use these steps to find your strengths and continue your job search on a positive note.