Think You Know Your Strengths? Think Again

Posted on Posted in Career Planning

Now that you’ve focused your search, it’s time to get clear on your value. Without clarity around what you have to offer, you risk getting a job that will only take partial advantage of your smarts and skills, and that is precisely the reason why so many people are unhappy at work. I want you to land a job that will be interesting, challenging and empowering. THAT’s where you should be aiming, and this next step will help you get there. 

At the beginning of your career, it’s up to you to define what makes you great.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you don’t have much to offer other than a diploma.

The story you tell is yours. People often start with the job description, and then try to figure out how they fit into it. I’m asking you to do it differently – start with who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re most proud of, then later we will figure out how that fits into your potential job opportunities.

People (read: hiring managers) will adjust their expectations of you, based on the story you tell and the way you tell it.

Which is why it’s important that you are excited, and enthusiastic about your accomplishments. If you aren’t prepared to talk about your accomplishments, no matter how small, you’ll miss out on the best opportunities to grow, learn and demonstrate your value. Most importantly, you’ll end up in a job with less responsibility, less exposure to the business, and a bigger challenge to prove yourself “worthy” of having a seat at the table.

If you’re going to talk about yourself, you need to be thinking about what you’ve done every day. You can’t expect yourself to dig it up in the middle of the interview and be well-spoken.

So here’s your big assignment

1 – Open up your calendar on your phone

2- Set aside 15-30 minute every day for a meeting with yourself. Every day, for the next 2 weeks.

3- Label that meeting “building my pride list”

4- Every day, find a quiet place, sit down with a notebook and start writing. Think of everything you’ve done that you’re proud of. Keep a running list. If you think of something twice, write it down again. Even if you didn’t like doing it, write it down. The goal here is to get you thinking more about all the good things you have done! And there are a lot of them!

Not sure where to start?

Start with your move to college, and move forward chronologically from there. Areas you should be thinking about include:

  • College classes and assignments – the ones that were hard, the ones that were easy and you knocked out of the park, or maybe you took a class that was outside your comfort zone. Perhaps you disagreed with a professor and were able to have a great conversation about an important issue.
  • Volunteer work – try to think of specific examples, moments, conversations, actions that you took that really left an impression on you
  • Sports and extra-curricular activities – did you lead the team to a championship? Did you lose, but you handled it really well when your teammates struggled, and you helped rally the team?
  • Relationships with friends – did you have an argument with a friend and you made it to the other side? Did you go outside your comfort zone and meet new people?
  • Leadership or club involvement
  • Work experience – how you’ve handled problems at work is a great place to start

Try to be as specific as possible, you may be proud that you did the assignment, but why are you proud? Is it because it was hard? Is it because you took a different angle than the professor expected? Is it because you got a good grade?

Keep it up for 2 whole weeks. I know it’s a lot, but trust me, every day you’ll rediscover something new and you’ll be reminded of all the great value you bring to a company – as an employee and as a co-worker.

Until next time, remember to think higher, dream bigger, and together, we’ll get the job you deserve.