You are here

Understanding and Using Your Strengths

Say what you want about positive psychology, but recent findings in the field support the idea that happiness fuels success, not the other way around. And who doesn’t strive for success? Since utilizing your strengths contributes to happiness and happiness influences achievement, let’s talk about YOUR strengths!

Knowing your strengths

Taking a values or strengths inventory such as VIA gives you a vocabulary that is useful in effectively articulating your strengths—an invaluable quality in the job search. Since those who are rarely introspective spend little time in self-reflection, tools like VIA offer a path to starting that internal conversation. The VIA survey takes approximately 15 minutes and asks participants 120 questions to get an idea of their character values. Once complete, you receive a report of your individual order of character strengths.  

Understanding your points of strength make you more aware and apt to use them. According to Lavy & Littman-Ovadia there is a connection not only to job satisfaction, but also productivity when character strengths are used in the workplace. In fact, in a study of 10,000 workers those who reported a high awareness of their strengths were 9.5 times more likely to be flourishing than workers with low awareness of their strengths.

Understanding others’ strengths

Not only is understanding your own strengths vital to success, but so is understanding those of others. Strength spotting is a great characteristic of leadership. It is the exercise of looking for the best (instead of the worst) in people. We’ve all had that experience working in a team and feeling as if you are the only one who is actually working. If you’ve been there you also know that simply going over everything that your group members do wrong does not help the situation either. Next time you find yourself with this problem try strength spotting—find what your group members are good at and ask them to contribute in that way. You will likely not only find that your team is much more productive, but that you are much less stressed and a more effective leader.

Putting them to use in the job search

Learn more about VIA Character Strengths by visiting and taking the FREE survey to get your strengths profile. Then, I challenge you to do the following:

Reflect on your top strengths.

  • Do they describe you accurately? How do you exemplify them?

Think of five examples when you used your strengths to solve a problem in the past. Explain the examples using STAR (situation, task, action and results).

  • How did your strengths help you solve that problem?
  • What are the direct benefits of your strengths to an employer?

For more about using your strengths in an interview, log into CareerEngine and visit the “Resources” tab for the “Identifying Your Strengths” worksheet.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

Categories: Miscellaneous

About the author

Ashley Taylor

Ashley Taylor is a Career Counselor at Engineering Career Services.