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What is VIA Character Strengths--and how can I use it my job search?

What is VIA Character Strengths?
The VIA Institute on Character is a non-profit organization based in Cincinnati, Ohio. VIA focuses on the science of strengths through research, surveys, and tools.  To date, over 4.6 million people have taken the VIA Survey. This survey takes inventory of your character strengths, offering a tool for reflection and giving you a vocabulary to use when communicating them. It is a psychometrically validated personality test revealing your positive character attributes.

How can I determine my strengths and why should I know them?
First, take the free survey HERE. Remember that this is an inventory of your character strengths, not an invitation for you to immediately jump to the last page and focus on your weaknesses! 

Upon taking the survey you will receive a report of the 24 character strengths, beginning with your strongest. Short descriptions of each are provided, and it is recommended that you focus on your top 5-10 as your strengths. Each strength also falls within one of the six broad virtue categories: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.

That’s great, but how can I use it when searching for a job?
Interview and Resume:
The purpose of your resume and an interview is to communicate what you can offer an employer that is in alignment with what the employer is seeking. How better to do that than to demonstrate what you do best? When reflecting on your positive attributes think about concrete examples of how you display them. The vocabulary you gain from the VIA assessment will equip you with a way of communicating your attributes to employers. It also serves as a reminder to focus on your strengths—something that I consistently remind students to do during interview coaching.

Remember—even if an employer doesn’t ask you directly “Why should I hire you?” or “What are your strengths?” they should still gain the answers to those questions through your interview!

Re-Energize and Re-Strategize:
Sometimes your job search doesn’t progress as anticipated. During these times it can be difficult to stay positive and remind yourself why you are a great candidate. By taking inventory of your strengths and trends of examples where you thrive, you can refocus and bring new energy to your search. Instead of sinking deeper into a rut, by remembering examples of success and strength you will remain positive throughout the ebbs and flows of your career.
Want to learn more about understanding your strengths? Check out a previous blog written on this topic.

If you are interested in strengths and personality inventories, consider exploring other tools like the Gallup StrengthsFinder and True Colors. Please note that these assessments (unlike VIA) require payment.

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.”
-Marilyn vos Savant


About the author

Ashley Taylor

Ashley Taylor is a Career Counselor at Engineering Career Services.