Throughout people’s professional careers, most are always looking for ways to build new skills, gain new knowledge, and move forward. Often, this can be to chase a promotion, move into a new industry or kick start a professional journey.
However, focusing on individual skills can sometimes mean workers are missing out on developing their broader talents and can hamper self-awareness. Understanding your core strengths can allow you to advance your career forward further in a more efficient manner.
Difference between strengths and skills
Although there are often similarities between your strengths and skills, they are two very different things.
Your strengths are defined as overarching groups of abilities that apply in your personal and professional life. Skills are much more defined and can be specifically learnt through courses and training.
Your strengths naturally develop over time, and you may have a solid understanding of your strengths at a young age. Often, our personal interests can overlap with our strengths. For example, someone who is loves reading stories might want to become an English teacher.
Having a good understanding of your strengths early on in your career through self-reflection can help you have a more focused and rewarding career path that builds upon your core workplace strengths and natural talents.
Finding your strengths
If you’re unsure of your strengths, you can work out what they are by looking at a few different areas of your personality and working style. Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself to uncover a list of strengths you might have.
What do you respond to?
What in your personal or professional life piques your interest? What can get you talking for hours? If a specific topic or part of your job role comes up and you light up, this could be a key indicator that you may have strengths around this topic or area.
For example, suppose you love talking about the more analytical side of your job (i.e., working with Google Analytics). In that case, it’s likely that this is an area in which you have many personal strengths and competencies.
If you’re still unsure after asking yourself these questions, asking friends and team members what parts of your job you talk about the most in a positive way can give some insight into your greatest strengths.
Often, people who have seen your career develop over a long period of time can spot patterns and have a better understanding of your strengths than you do. Remember that not everyone can easily spot what their best strengths are and some may only get a good understanding of later on in their career.
When do you flourish?
Take time to break down a typical day in your role. Where do you struggle, and where do you feel most at home when completing tasks?
If there are a handful of tasks that you excel at, think about whether they have any things in common.
Are they tasks that are based on numeracy, or do they require a greater level of creativity? Looking out for themes and similarities can help you to discover your overall strengths.
What makes time go faster or slower?
When working, we all have tasks that feel like they whizz by and other tasks that seem to drag on.
It can be a good idea to note down which tasks you find tedious, as this might reflect that you find these tasks cumbersome, unengaging, or complex. This can indicate that they’re not rooted in your core strengths, as they don’t reflect your best abilities and mindset as a worker.
Meanwhile, tasks that you relish taking on that make the hours fly by in your office are worth paying attention to. This is because they’re more likely to reflect your core strengths and qualities as a worker. Having a good idea of what gets you to be focused and find greater enjoyment in your work can help you to work out where your strengths are, allowing you to flourish in the process.
Why does it matter?
Getting a good idea of your strengths is one of the most important things you’ll do to get ahead in your career and personal development. This is true for a wide variety of different reasons.
Once you have a solid understanding of your core strengths, you can make smarter career choices, seek out more fulfilment in your current role, or take an exciting step in your professional life. Your knowledge around your strengths will be used in every aspect of your career decisions and will help you to make the best choices possible at every corner.
Be happier at work
Spending more time working on tasks that highlight your strengths can lead to greater engagement at work. In turn, this leads to higher levels of productivity and enjoyment at work. A study from Gallup found that more engaged workers had an increase of 17% in productivity, and the rate of absenteeism fell by 41%.
Reconsider ways to pivot
If you feel that you’re at a crossroads in your career, having a good understanding of your strengths can allow you to pivot into a new area with confidence.
For example, if you feel that you’ve always struggled with monotonous, technical tasks but do well with tasks that require a high level of creativity, you could pivot a career as a data analyst into a games designer.
Upskill in strength areas
If you know what you’re already good at, double down on it!
By discovering your key strengths, you can build a dedicated set of skills around that area. Instead of learning lots of different skills, you can build up a portfolio of abilities that complement each other.
Each new skill you learn will be linked to a vast arsenal of abilities, and you’ll be able to maximise the overall impact of any training or courses you take part in.
This could, in turn, lead to great positive feedback during performance reviews, improve your current skill set and help you to stand out in job interviews when looking for work or speaking to recruiters.
Ultimately, finding and developing your strengths can be an excellent way to boost your career development, day-to-day fulfilment, and the number of professional opportunities available. Discover your strengths today and get started on the education path you need to take the next step in your career path.