Almost everyone is born with a unique set of skills, strengths and talents. Unfortunately, we have a habit of downplaying our strong points and overlooking our individual abilities. We don’t always realize the gifts we’re blessed with. Sometimes we get so used to them and we start taking them for granted.
It’s important to celebrate these qualities because they can go a long ways towards a happy and successful career. It’s no surprise that employees are happiest when they’re good at their job. Taking the time to figure out what skill sets you were blessed with can help you find a job that can excel at.
Here are five steps you can take to identify your strengths and qualities:
If you’ve ever written a resumè, you know it serves as a sort of snapshot of your education and work experience. Most people don’t include every single 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 write out a list of all the places you’ve been employed at ever since you started working. Even if the job was simple or didn’t pay much, still write it down.
Did you use to babysit for your neighbors? Write it down. Mow lawns in the neighborhood? Write that down. Don’t leave out any work experience, no matter how simple it might have been. Do the same for any volunteer work you’ve been involved with and any hobbies you’ve pursued.
For the second step, you’re going to identify any and all skills that were required for these jobs. Even the simplest of jobs still require some degree of ability and certain strengths. Think about the skills you needed 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, making decisions under pressure.
Identify the top three skills you had to have for each job, volunteer work or hobby. For example, did your job 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 manager?
Did volunteering as a candy striper at the hospital call for a lot of 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, what your position was, 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 awesome persuasion skills? Were you absolutely miserable when you were responsible for making the schedule and planning shifts during your time as a manager?
Once you’ve written all of this out, take the time to truly 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.
For this step, think about all the things you just have a natural talent for. Things you’ve just always been good at without even trying.
- 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 different people seem to compliment you about the same things sometimes?tem
- 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 their 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 almost impossible for others.
Remind yourself of all the hardships and difficulties you’ve endured in the past 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!
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been complimented or recognized in the past. Giving praise doesn’t come easy for some people and it’s not a reflection on you. Maybe they feel awkward telling you something they think you already know. Or they don’t know how you’ll react to their admiration.
In cases like this, it’s always a good idea to simply reach out for feedback. Friends, family, teachers, coworkers and especially your boss are all great people to ask for their professional opinion about you. Managers and coworkers are a great resource for this information because they see you working everyday and have formed an opinion 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 some 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.
Now that you’ve written out your full list of strengths and skills, you’ll need to group them together under common categories. For example, organizing work meetings, planning family get-togethers, and coordinating a friend’s party all fall under the ‘planning and organizational skills’ category.
Ordering office supplies, keeping the kitchen stocked and distributing supplies all fall under the ‘inventory keeping skills’ category. Which category has the most skills in it? This is going to be the one you more than likely do the most.
Think about whether you’re using these skills the most because you actually ENJOY them or because they’re just easiest. If you find that you enjoy using your planning and organizational skills then you can start looking for careers that require this of you.
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 is going to way easier once you’ve completed these five steps.
Don’t rush on discovering and understanding 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 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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