How To Identify Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths is your key to finding work you love and you’re successful at, yet, identifying those strengths is not always as easy as sitting down with a piece of paper and listing a few qualities. If, like many of us, you’re struggling to see your own strengths, read on.

RELATED: What Are Your Strengths And Weaknesses?

What is strength?

Some people see strengths as something we’re naturally good at, but I prefer Marcus Buckingham’s definition: “A strength is an activity that makes you feel strong.” The more you use your strengths, the more energised you feel, which enables you to become better at it with less effort. Being good at something is not enough to call it a strength. If it drains you, then it’s a weakness.

Pay attention to your energy levels

Following this definition, notice how you feel when you’re performing different tasks throughout the day. What sparks excitement? What makes you feel good about yourself? What would you be doing all day if you had the opportunity? After paying attention for a week or so, you will probably notice a thread emerging. You may be feeling at your best when taking care of others or coming up with ideas, or creating something with your hands.

Ask your friends

Sometimes it’s hard to identify our strengths, because they come to us so naturally that we don’t even notice them, just like we don’t notice ourselves breathing most of the time. Ask people who know you well to tell you what they most value about you and what they think makes you unique. Some of the answers are bound to surprise you. When I did this exercise for the first time, I remember thinking: “Really, not everyone does this? Other people don’t think this way?” No, they don’t.

Take a strength assessment test

There are lots of strength assessment tests you can find online and one of the most popular ones is Gallup’s StregthsFinder 2.0, which I have found very helpful – not only it gives you your top strengths, but also ideas on how to bring more of them into your life. Assessments are also good because they give you the language to describe your strengths, which comes handy when you’re answering job interview questions.

Once you discover your strengths, look for ways to implement them in your daily life. The more you use them, the more you will start seeing new ways to apply your strengths and most importantly, you will feel happier and more fulfilled.

Image via Pixabay

April 5, 2015

What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

Don’t you just hate that moment in a job interview when you’re asked to reveal your strengths and weaknesses?As if you are going to answer truthfully. “My strengths include being a really good party host and my weaknesses include the fact that my mind often wanders to thoughts about my next party when I am supposed to be adding up figures.” Yeah right.

I know a sales consultant who told her interviewer point blank: “You don’t really expect me to tell you my weaknesses?” She got the job.

However, when interviewing with experts such as a recruitment consultant or a human resources professional using humour or candour is unlikely to get you anywhere but onto the reject pile.

Graham Smith of Heritage Recruitment said asking a candidate about their strengths and weaknesses is an important way to test his or her suitability

for a particular role.

“You are trying to see if the person has a sense of his or her own limitations,” he said. “You also want to know what the person is good at and

how that might fit into the role you are trying to fill.”

“The interviewer wants to make sure the candidate has the right ‘behaviours’ and skills for the job. After the interview, the interviewer will then verify that the candidate has the skills they claim to. For example, is the person good at problem-solving? Will they work well in a team? Do they have an eye for detail and are they a self-starter?”

Both Mr Smith and Nicole Gorton, Australian branch manager of OfficeTeam, said it was very important that candidates provide specific examples to demonstrate their “strengths”.

September 16, 2003

What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?(contd)

Known as “behavioural interviewing”, this is where the candidate is asked:

“Tell me about a time when you ….” So make sure you have specific examples to back up everything you relay in the interview. To do this you must

prepare for the interview and rehearse with a friend or family member. It works.A sales consultant who said a strength was the fact he or she was “driven by results” should follow with an example of a time when he or she achieved, let’s say, 110 per cent of their monthly target in three weeks.

Someone in retail or hospitality could be “passionate about customer service” and recall a time of going out of their way to fulfil a customer or guest’s request. Make sure your examples are truthful and can be verified by your referee.

Okay, now for your “weaknesses”. Simon Tobin, a director of Michael Page Finance and Ms Gorton both said you should relate “weaknesses” that were

really strengths and not to use the word “weakness”.

“Start the sentence with, ‘my area for improvement is’,” said Ms Gorton.

Also, nominate a skill you don’t actually need for the job like languages. Being able to say you are actively trying to change your weakness into a

strength is also a good idea.

For example, “My area for improvement is public speaking and I have just enrolled in a toastmaster’s course.”

My stock standard one is: “I’m too focused on work and need to develop some after hours hobbies.” Nauseating right?

Mr Smith has a different view.

“I ask. ‘Give me an example of a situation when you were not successful, what you did, and how you felt about it?”

“I want to know that someone can encounter a knock back and be robust enough to cope with it and get on with the job,” he said.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing:

September 16, 2003

Job Working conditions Round-up (contd)

Not so great was a national nuclear science agency ordered to pay a manager $35,000 for failing to offer her part time work options when she returned from maternity leave.Australian Industry Group chief executive Tim Piper said the Federal Magistrates’ Court imposed penalty should make all employers aware of the need to accommodate workers with families.

“In any case, it makes good business sense to retain existing employees, given the ageing workforce and the high cost of training,” he said.

Access Economics recently told a summit in Sydney that growth in Australia’s workforce would plummet from 170,000 workers a year to only 125,000 for the entire decade of the 2020s.

That means your power as an employee is only going to grow. Remember that next time you are feeling undervalued.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing:

September 2, 2003

A Bit of Friendly Competition Continued

Ok. So you admit you might have one or two evil thoughts about a co-worker or female boss – you’re secretly hoping she’ll stuff up just like the little girl in the middle playing elastics. How do you overcome its limitations?”Empathy and compassion,” is Rachael’s answer. “The key to dealing with competition is to find empathy and compassion and before you can find empathy and compassion for anyone else you have to find it for yourself,” Rachael advises.

“The next really important thing is to accept. To realise you can’t have it all – you can have some of it some of the time and it’s cyclical,” she says.

“The key to dealing with female competition is to acknowledge its existence and be thoughtful, be clear with yourself and set yourself boundaries with girlfriends and co-workers,” Rachael says. “Speak up in a calm and thoughtful way.”

US author Leora Tanenbaum (Catfight: Women and competition) advocates cooperation in a work environment. “If there’s a woman above you, tell her how much you respect her, maybe she’ll see you as less of a threat,” Tenenbaum told a Fast Forward journalist.

“If women were to cooperate on a person-to-person level, we could change things that are inequitable to women. If we felt more inclined to unite with one another, we could make workplaces more women and family friendly,” she said.

Rachael says dealing with female competition in the workplace is about speaking out, which many women are disinclined to do.

” If you’re in a meeting and another woman starts sprouting your ideas and you feel yourself getting angry, Rachael advises you stop and recognise this as a “trigger moment”. Don’t obsess about the comments (sound familiar?), just say to yourself ‘I accept I feel competition, I will deal with it after the meeting, but for now I’ll stay in the present’,” Rachael says. “After the meeting, bring it out in the open and speak to your colleague in non-confrontational language.”

And whatever you do, don’t go and bitch to your work girlfriends.

Rachael says women in the workforce need to be clearer about what they want and what they don’t want. “Ask yourself how far you’re willing to go to support others and realise the point where it becomes self sacrifice,” Rachael says. “Women can give too much and they’re actually cutting off their nose to spite their face.”

And next time you recognise yourself sizing up a fellow female, remember Rachael’s words: “you can’t have it all, you can have some of it some of the time”. Accept that she’s got great legs, but you’ve got a great butt – so move on.

Story by Lisa Bjorksten, acting editor of CareerOne –

Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing:

December 3, 2002

Confronting The Boss From Hell

The most difficult person to deal with in the workplace might just be your boss!

When I finished reading the best seller Dealing with Difficult People I was so impressed by the advice and techniques it contained, that I thought the book could just as easily be renamed Management 101. I couldn’t understand why such a simple and economical resource that could really make a difference to people’s effectiveness, productivity and dare I say, happiness in the workplace, was not a prescribed text! Author Roberta Cava is similarly perplexed, especially given that her knowledge and extensive experience of this subject shows that managers and supervisors are in fact the worst offenders!

I caught up with Roberta recently to chat about her best-seller and to get some top tips on dealing with difficult people that could really make (or save) your day!

“I keep seeing people who get up in the morning, they’re in a good mood they run into some difficult situations and it ruins their day,” says Roberta identifying a common scenario. “What I try to do is give people the ability to stay in control in difficult situations and to not let other people get control over their life,” says Roberta of her internationally-presented and widely-acclaimed tips and techniques.

“It has been so effective that I get letters from all over the world now from people who say that their lives have changed because they have been able to change their way of responding,” she says of her infinitely rewarding work. A best-seller that’s been in print since 1990, available world-wide through eight publishers and in five languages, it’s easy to see that Roberta’s endeavours in Dealing With Difficult People are both appreciated and necessary. While certainly her area of expertise, Roberta’s work doesn’t stop with workplace scenarios and survival guides.

“I’m busy doing an awful lot of writing related to the book; magazine and newspaper articles and I’m writing a sequel to it for Pan Macmillan in Australia and it’s called Dealing With Difficult Situations. I’ve already written Dealing with Difficult Spouses and Children, Dealing with Difficult Relatives and In-Laws, and there is going to be a whole stream of them come out eventually,” she says of her seemingly prolific output.

The culmination of over seven years worth of experiences in her hugely popular seminars on dealing with difficult people, the book of the same name took just four months to write. A chapter added to the revised edition in 2000 names the 115 (yes, that’s right!) types of manipulators – your basic “difficult” people – and offers strategies on how to deal with them. Roberta explains. “When I first started doing my seminars Dealing with Difficult People I always thought that the most difficult people in the world would be the client. Then I thought that the second most difficult people to people working, of course would be the colleague. I was decidedly wrong,” she admits. “Overwhelmingly, the biggest problems in business start at the top.”

“The reason for this is that most supervisors and managers, directors and CEO, executives of companies have not had basic supervisory training and this is extremely true in Australia. I have never seen so few people in supervisory positions that have the basic supervisory knowledge. And they make a lot of mistakes,” she adds.

April 9, 2002

How to Like Your Job?

Do you find that because of our slow economy, financial needs or just life situations (credit cards) we stay in jobs we really don’t love? You don’t mind your colleagues and you really don’t mind the work either. Don’t panic because it’s not a bad thing to feel ‘okay’ about your day job. In fact there are ways to feel positive and good about going to work.Accept the situation

One thing to remember is not to put your job before everything else in your life. Have key areas and determine your priorities. Some people put relationships, self, spouse, family and friends and then work. Of course you can’t be unrealistic and think that work will never get out of control on occasions, but, if you start prioritizing your life? work won’t get your down. Don’t apologise if your job is not on the top of your list.

Expand your outside life

If you have worked out your priorities you can now expand your life outside of the office. Make friends unrelated to your job; don’t get involved in activities that are glorified networking opportunities. Surround yourself with positive people that inspire you.

July 1, 2001

How to Like Your Job? (Cont’d)

Take control of your lack of motivation

If you are feeling a tad bored at work and unmotivated this can be for a number of reasons. The first thing to do is ask yourself, “Why am I bored and unmotivated?” It might be because you have outgrown the job, are bored with the routine or not getting the appropriate feedback you need. A tip to conquer this is to look around at work and see what things need fixing? then go about doing it. Not only will you be seen as taking initiative but also you will feel excited about tackling a new responsibility.Get a hold of your life outside of the office

It’s not abnormal to have your personal life come into the office. You have to recognize this as a temporary situation and that you have to get a hold of it. The best bit of advice I was given was to talk to my manager to see if there were ways I could re-prioritise to get my job done and stay sane. Ask your support systems and don’t try to be a martyr. Only makes your life harder.

Deal with office politics

Keep above the politics. Stay focused on the goals of your job and your projects. Remember you are a professional and don’t get sucked into coffee shop bitching. Never gossip about the people you don’t like to anyone at work. There is no point putting your energy into the people you dislike at work.

July 1, 2001