Almost everyone is born with unique skills, strengths, and talents. Unfortunately, we have a habit of downplaying our strong points and overlooking our abilities. Sometimes, we fail to recognize and appreciate our gifts. Instead, we get so used to them that we take them for granted.
Celebrating these qualities is crucial because they can lead to a happy and successful career. Unsurprisingly, employees are happiest when they’re good at their job. Taking the time to figure out your natural skill sets can help you find a position where you can excel. Here are five steps you can take to identify your strengths and qualities:
Write Out All Of Your Previous Work Experiences
If you’ve ever written a resumè, you know it is a snapshot of your education and work experience. Most people don’t include every job they’ve ever had on a professional resumè because they weren’t super important. For this step, however, they ARE important and need to be included. This exercise requires you to list all the places you’ve been employed since you started working.
Write it down even if the job was simple or didn’t pay much. Did you use to babysit for your neighbors? Include it in your list. Mow lawns in the neighborhood? List that too. Don’t leave out any work experience, no matter how simple it might have been. Do the same for any volunteer work and hobbies you’ve pursued.
Identify The Skills Your Previous Jobs Required
For the second step, you will identify any skills required for these jobs. Even the simplest jobs still require some degree of ability and particular strengths; think about the skills you need to have for that job. These typically fall into four categories:
- Knowledge-based skills – speaking another language or having substantial technical knowledge.
- Communication and people skills – expressing yourself well, teaching others, relaying ideas, actively listening, and persuading.
- Research & planning skills – identifying issues, brainstorming potential solutions, and setting goals.
- Leadership & management skills – delegating and supervising others, motivating people, and making decisions under pressure.
Identify the top three skills you had to have for each job, volunteer work, or hobby. For example, did your stint as a waitress require you to have a lot of patience and self-restraint? Did you have to have strong organizational and planning skills when you worked as a retail manager? Did volunteering as a candy striper at the hospital call for much caring and compassion? Often, different jobs require the same skills, so don’t worry if the same ones keep coming up.
Aside from identifying the skills you had to have for these jobs, you’ll also want to write out your personal feelings about your time there. Include how old you were when you worked there, your position, how long you stayed there, and how you felt about it overall. Write down how easy or hard you found the work and the duties you were responsible for. Think back on your favorite and least favorite parts about each job.
Did taking a job in sales make you realize that you love using your incredible persuasion skills? Were you miserable when responsible for making the schedule and planning shifts as a manager? Once you’ve written all of this, take the time to study what you’ve written. This information can tell you A LOT about what type of career you’d be best at and happiest doing.
Think About All The Things You’re Naturally Good At
For this step, consider everything you have a natural talent for. Stuff you’ve just always been good at without even trying. For example:
- Are you the one that always plans the next get-together with friends because you’re just so good at it?
- Do you enjoy helping friends and family with their finances because you’re naturally good with numbers?
- Do the same compliments keep popping up from different people?
- Have you heard from more than one employer that you have a great work ethic and are a hard worker?
- Have you been complimented on your punctuality and dependability by multiple people?
- Have you been told more than once that you’re a sharp dresser?
- Have you helped a company increase its profit with your innovative ideas?
Think back on any praise, compliments, or recognition you’ve heard more than once. It’s easy to take your natural-born talents for granted and assume everyone else has them too. We’re all good at different things, and something you can do in your sleep might be impossible for others. Remind yourself of all the hardships and difficulties you’ve endured and how you overcame them. Potential employers love the strength it takes to conquer hurdles. Things like determination, perseverance, and strong willpower are in demand now more than ever. Don’t sell yourself short!
Ask People For Their Professional Input
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been complimented or recognized in the past. Giving praise doesn’t come easy for some, and it’s not a reflection on you. Maybe people feel awkward telling you something they think you already know. Or they’re worried about how you’ll react to their admiration. In such cases, reaching out for feedback is always a good idea. Friends, family, teachers, coworkers, and especially your boss are great people to ask for professional opinions about you.
Managers and coworkers are excellent resources for this information because they see you working and have formed opinions about you. They can see the strengths and abilities you possess that you might not be able to see on your own. Next time you have one-on-one time with fellow workers, ask them what they think about you as a coworker. Ask your boss for the first three qualities that come to mind when they think of you as their employee.
Identify And Categorize Similar Skills
Now that you’ve written your complete list of strengths and skills, group them under common categories. For example, organizing work meetings, planning family get-togethers, and coordinating a friend’s party fall under the ‘planning and organizational skills’ category. Things like ordering office supplies, keeping the breakroom stocked, and distributing supplies all fall under the ‘inventory keeping skills’ category.
Which category has the most skills in it? That will be the one you most likely do the most. Consider whether you use these skills the most because you ENJOY them or because they’re the easiest. If you enjoy using your planning and organizational skills, you can start looking for careers requiring this. If you love using your patience and compassion skills the most, you can look for a job where these are necessary.
Finding a job that requires your specific skills and makes you happier will be easier once you’ve completed these five steps. Don’t rush to discover and understand the full scope of your talents, expertise, and knowledge. Not only will you be more fulfilled in your career, but you’ll also be able to ask for a higher salary. Employers love it when job applicants know what they’re capable of and how they can help the company.
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