June 12, 2020, by Leah Sharpe
Identifying your strengths in preparation for your job search
By Hayley Williams, Students’ Union Employability Development Manager
All of us have strengths and weaknesses, it’s what makes us unique and individual. When undertaking your job search it’s helpful to understand a bit more about your strengths to make sure you’re applying for roles that will suit you and encourage you to perform well. By seeking a role that plays to your natural strengths and preferences you are more likely to find employment that you enjoy and find rewarding longer term.
So, how do you know what your strengths are?
There are many ways in which you can begin identifying your strengths. Sometimes simply asking friends or family what they think your strengths are can be hugely useful to start thinking about where you naturally perform well. However, it’s always best to make sure their reflections are accurate by undertaking some self-awareness activities of your own. The first step in identifying your strengths is to think about what energises you. What do you enjoy doing? What activities give you a ‘buzz’ and make you feel excited when you do them?
Strengths are slightly different from competencies like teamwork or communication. They focus more on your innate skills such as emotional awareness, creative thinking, incubating ideas, connecting people with shared interests, strategic awareness and resilience.
Write down your answers to the following questions as a starting point for developing your self awareness and identifying your strengths:
1. What did you enjoy as a child that you still enjoy now?
2. What is the task that always gets bumped to the bottom of your ‘to do’ list?
3. What role do you play in your friendship group? The organiser? The outgoing one? The one people come to for advice?
4. What activities do you find easy to do and never a chore? Learning a new skill? Practicing a sport? Meeting new people?
5. Which activities naturally energise you? Think about what prompts you to use phrases like ‘I loved that’ or ‘that was so much fun’.
By recording your answers to the above you’ll start to build a picture of where you naturally perform well and what you enjoy doing. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you’ll find a job where you love every aspect of your work – there’s always going to be tasks that don’t hugely energise you. However, these are the types of tasks you want to be seeking to avoid forming the majority of the role. Instead look for a role where your strengths will match the key activities and tasks you will be involved in.
Recruiters are increasingly asking strengths-based questions at application and interview stages to try and ascertain what you would be like as an employee. So it’s best to be as prepared as you can for this type of question. These are often difficult to predict as employers are looking for genuine and spontaneous responses. By developing your self-awareness and knowing your strengths, you will find questions like ‘What do you think you would enjoy most about this role?’ or ‘If you had the choice between starting or finishing a task which would you chose?’ a lot easier to answer in an authentic way.
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