Analyzing & Understanding Your Strengths
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Identifying your strengths can provide a significant and positive shift for your career and life. When you are aligned with your talents you will feel more confident and your expertise can be used to create a successful job and life that you love. Understanding your strengths takes self-knowledge so you can apply them to the various aspects of your job. Here are five questions that can help you discover, assess and leverage your strengths:
- What do others say?
Ask 5-6 people whom you trust and know well to provide you feedback. This could include mentors, managers, co-workers, peers or family members. Send an email stating that you are trying to identify your strengths to develop in your career and provide specific questions with a deadline for responding. You might ask, “What do you see as my key strengths?”, or “Name 3 occasions when you saw me at my best.” Categorize responses into similar themes.
- What do you love to do?
Observe the things you love to do both at work and outside of work. Do you excel at managing people and advancing teamwork? If so, focus on growing your leadership skills and finding management opportunities. If you love to write but that isn’t part of your role, explore how you may create an internal blog or newsletter for consumers or employees. Recognizing your true gifts and passions is necessary for developing a career that plays to your greatest strengths.
- When do you feel most successful?
Think about your typical workday. What are the tasks that give you the most pleasure and those that you can’t wait to delve into? Do you enjoy working alone or with a group of individuals? Do the hours fly by when you are communicating with shoppers, organizing large events, or developing promotional strategies? Identify the areas when you feel “in the flow.”
- What are your test results?
Personality tests are another helpful way to help you identify your strengths. Here are a few of them that are often recommended:
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – This personality test measures you within a framework of four areas: energy (introvert vs. extrovert), decision-making, taking in information, and approaching the outside world. The official test is $49.95, or start with a free version of a similar test - Jung Personality Test.
- DISC Personality Test – Often used with individuals or a team to discover what DISC type you are and how you relate with others. The full assessment is $29, or you can try their free assessment.
- CliftonStrengths Assessment – This tool can be purchased directly for $49.99 or you can obtain an access code to take the test by purchasing the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book. The test determines your top five “talent themes” to help you become more engaged and productive at work.
- How can you promote your strengths?
Once you have identified your strengths it’s time to create a plan to communicate them. Take some time to craft a new elevator speech that showcases your uniqueness. Update your LinkedIn profile to ensure there is a spotlight on your strengths, and be prepared to highlight your strengths by sharing personal achievements with current or future employers.
Taking the time to analyze and understand your strengths will allow you to make decisions about your goals, career and life with more clarity while directing you on a successful path that is best suited to your abilities and talents.