When assessing your career (or even when you’re not), recalling your strengths is a great way to get into a positive mindset for applying for jobs. However even before that, it can be a hugely rewarding activity to help you understand the types of career that you may want to explore.
But let’s face it, we’re not exactly well-known for talking positively about ourselves and often hit a brick wall when it comes to shouting about what we’re good at. Here are some common traps we fall into:
We think it’s arrogant if we say we’re good at something
We think our skills aren’t as good as others
We dismiss vital skills if we see them as ‘soft’ skills
We value academic achievements higher than all of our unique knowledge and experience put together
We narrow our focus and forget about the range of experience we have gathered over the years
We see job descriptions and dismiss applying if there is ONE thing we aren’t an expert in
If it comes easily we don’t view it as a strength
We struggle to believe in ourselves and think everyone else is better, more qualified, more articulate. We get ourselves stuck.
Often when transitioning into a new career, role or even different phase of life, we tell ourselves we're ‘starting from scratch’. But this is not the case. All of your knowledge, strengths, qualities, characteristics, experience and skills are preparing you for your next move. You don't leave all of that at the door when you start something new, you carry it all with you.
Here are some ways to start embracing your strengths when transitioning in your career (or to a new phase in life)
Try carrying out a personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on yourself - list everything you can think of that comes under each of those headings.
Create a career timeline from your very first job to your current position. Note, with enthusiasm, your career highlights - what skills were involved? What role did you play? What are you particularly proud of?
Create a daily log of successes - what are the skills you needed to make that a success? Do not dismiss things because you think it was a small achievement or it is a skill that comes easily.
Ask for feedback - sometimes we need a bit of help to kick off this process. Ask trusted colleagues, friends or family what they believe your greatest strengths to be. What are they most proud of you for achieving? This is a wonderful thing to do as they may notice things you haven’t, or they may remind you of achievements you’ve forgotten.
Think of yourself in the third person. What would your manager say about you? How do your colleagues describe you? What do they believe your strengths to be? List, without editing, all of the things you think they would say about you.
These are some exercises to get you started in thinking about your core strengths. Having completed one or two, what do you notice? Are there any themes? How do you feel about the strengths that stand out?
It can really help to talk this through with a trusted friend, colleague or coach to hone in and become comfortable in talking about your strengths, skills and how to take these forward into your next move.
Gemma Brown is an associate certified coach with the International Coach Federation, working with people to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.