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Using STRENGTHS in the Job Search

Today's post is written by ECS Graduate Advisor Jillian Baer, who advises intern, co-op, and full-time employment seeking students.

Gallup’s studies of the top achievers in most careers and professions indicate that they “invent” ways to apply their greatest talents and strengths as they work.  If they are unable to do so, they move on until they find a career in which they can.  A large benefit of co-ops and internships is having the ability to try out different work environments in order to find the best fit.  After identifying your strengths (or Signature Themes), you will have a huge advantage to be able to understand your areas of strength and to find a way to incorporate them daily at a job site.

A strengths-based approach to career planning and development starts with self-knowledge and awareness.  This means understanding what we do best and what we want most in the place where we work.

One way to make sure we are using our strengths and talents best in the workplace is to conduct a Job Analysis.  This activity can be completed when job searching by using the job descriptions posted by the company.  Start by carefully reading through the job posting description, specifically noting the “outcomes” and “responsibilities” for the position.   Next, take a look at your Signature Themes (or those strengths/talents that you have identified in previous activities) and write one or two of your strengths next to each responsibility listed on the job posting that you think would help you achieve the success or outcome described for each statement.  Each outcome and responsibility may not fit you exactly, so it is perfectly fine to leave a few of the lines blank.

Once you have identified strengths/talents that apply to the responsibilities and outcomes listed in the job posting, take a minute to review the results.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would most of my strengths be utilized in this role?
  • Are there some strengths that wouldn’t get as much use if I took a role like this?  What are they, and how would that make me feel?
  • Are there some things in this position that would be difficult for me to do?
  • How well would this position fit me?
  • What parts of the role do not fit?
  • How would I feel in this type of role?

Through this activity, you will learn how best to apply your strengths and natural talents when beginning the process of job searching.  It is imperative to consider these factors when choosing a workplace in order to maximize our own efficiency, improve our satisfaction in the placement, and make the most out of the experience.

If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.” – Barbara Bush