Highlight Your Strengths in Your Professional Career
With the evolution of professions and less and less linear professional courses, it is becoming essential to know yourself well in order to find an activity that makes sense for you. When we achieve this, it is not only a source of happiness but also of performance. Knowing your strengths and soliciting them on a daily basis is, therefore, a winning approach for yourself, your colleagues, and your employer. Let’s see how to put them forward to promote professional development, especially when changing jobs.
The Importance of Strengths at Work
Character strengths are the ability to feel, think, and behave appropriately to achieve valued goals. They are, therefore, not reducible to technical skills. Skills are more the “what,” whereas strengths are more the “how.” In the professional sphere, these two notions are perfectly complementary.
More is needed if certain technical skills are essential to access certain positions. Moreover, with more or less equivalent skills, the strengths, ways of doing things, and psychosocial skills will be decisive in a hiring or promotion process. And this is not just an additional “asset.” Indeed, research has identified a number of positive consequences of using strengths at work: Drawing of an employee flying with a cape and recapturing the benefits of using strengths at work on both employer and employee sides
More satisfaction and meaning at work
Higher earnings at equivalent positions
Greater commitment to work and more involvement
Best Collective Work
But all this also depends on the compatibility between the workplace, the position, and the person’s strengths profile. Thus, we can better rely on our strengths if the work environment calls for them or leaves room for maneuvering to mobilize them.
When strong compatibility between these elements is present, fulfillment increases, and we will be more likely to consider our job a vocation.
When you are looking for a new job, want to retrain, or want to progress in your company, identifying your strengths is a winning approach from all points of view.
Identify Your Strengths
Fortunately, identifying your strengths is not reduced to choosing from a list of qualifiers those that seem to correspond to you. Indeed, scientifically validated tests exist to do this job. I suggest taking the VIA character strengths test, which is free. In 15 to 20 minutes, you will obtain the list of strengths that characterize you the most. However, the Gallup Institute’s CliftonStrengths test can help you in the same way. Both tests are available in French; here are the links to take them:
The CliftonStrengths test
Photo of a Superman statue course; raw results are not enough. It is necessary to analyze them and carry out work to appropriate them. The forces guide, accessible free of charge, can help you. The following resources will also help you better understand the subject:
An article that presents the character strengths of VIA
The character strengths podcast episode
A Realizing video that shows you how to take the tests and analyze the results
In a professional orientation process, you will also need to take the time to identify your skills. Isolating your know-how in a precise way allows you to broaden your horizons. Without this, we often remain “stuck” by the title of our previous position or that of the last diploma obtained. You should read this article, in which you will find a tool sheet to take stock of your skills.
1- Highlight Your Strengths
Knowing where you are is an essential first step. But once this work is done, how can it be used in a job search, career development or retraining process? Here are some leads.
1- Use Strengths in the Job Search
Approaching the job search with strengths is not an absolute must, but it has many advantages. Moreover, a study has shown that supporting job seekers with the strengths approach improves their employability6 and their self-esteem. Three months after such support, 80.6% of the people followed found a job. Only 60% of those benefiting from traditional support landed a job within the same period of time.
Of course, approaching the job search with the forces does not dispense with good practices in monitoring, CV, cover letter, or interview. Nevertheless, mobilizing one or more of your “signature” strengths during these steps will come through in your speech and your writing.
2- The Case of the Curriculum Vitae
Optimizing your job search with this approach starts with using the terminology of strengths in the “qualities” section of a CV. This avoids pouring into conventional clichés and allows you to really invest in this part of the document.
Another possibility is to integrate the notion of force into describing your previous missions or hobbies. It is a question here of reworking your CV in light of the strengths and adapting it to the structure and the targeted position.
To build on your strengths in the context of the CV, I invite you to follow these steps:
Identify how your strengths are an asset for the position you are applying for.
Reword them in an easily understandable way and add that under the “qualities” category. Avoid overused terms. If you fall into the easy way (ex: “motivated,” “punctuality”), it will not add much to the CV.
Think about the intersection between core competencies and strengths. You will thus be able to mention them in a more subtle way, implicitly, in your experiences (e.g., show your love of learning through the training courses carried out throughout a career; show your curiosity through the various sectors in which you worked, etc.). Create consistency through strengths.
And if you don’t really know how to organize your information in a clear and relevant way, know that you can easily find a CV template that suits you on sites specializing in the field.
3- Strengths For Cover Letters
For a cover letter, you can follow the same principles. Your strengths must be reflected in your background, your expectations, and your proposals for the position in question. This will be more telling for a recruiter and will allow you to know immediately if a synergy exists between a position and your way of working. Man writing on sheets As we have seen, if you are hired, and you do not have the opportunity to use your strengths at work, no one will win.
Taking the time to reflect on your strengths also allows you to identify better the positions and organizations that match your profile and your desires. You can then focus your energy on the right targets. Of course, this also implies clearly identifying your skills beforehand and not closing doors a priori.
To help you in this process, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions:
How have my strengths helped me in my previous experiences?
How do my strengths match the targeted job description?
How could I mobilize my forces in the targeted organization?
4- The Interview
Finally, you will get one or more interviews if all goes well. If, by chance, you were asked the very agreed question of your qualities and your faults, the strengths reading grid will allow you to feed your speech in a constructive way. Fortunately, recruiters are often more subtle and approach this point by asking the candidate to formulate their expectations and the contributions they could make to the organization to which they are applying. The reflection aroused upstream by the analysis of your strengths profile will allow you to put your preferences and important points for you. And as we have seen, it is central to your fulfillment at work and the performance of the structure that will recruit you.
2- Use Strengths to Evolve Internally
The vocabulary of strengths also allows you to analyze things more in-depth during an annual interview. With such a reading grid, you can better explain what suits you and what does not suit you in your current position and the transformations or developments that could benefit you. The argument of the positive benefits for your employer can also be an element to put forward.
To prepare for this interview, you can:
Ask yourself how to restructure your current position to make more use of your strengths. The scientifically validated method presented here can help you do this.
Identify additional missions that would further leverage your strengths.
Use the job crafting approach to redefine your current missions while keeping the reading grid of strengths in mind. In another blog post, I offer 4 methods to do this job.
3- Forces with a View to Conversion
Whatever your sector of activity, you must have noticed that there is more and more retraining. The recent confinements have also greatly accelerated (or revealed) certain professional reorientation projects.
Be that as it may, thinking about retraining requires maturation over a long period of time. The strengths can again contribute to the reflection and help you guide your choices more objectively. Knowing what suits us and the concrete means to implement for successful retraining is a valuable asset.
If you are in this situation, I invite you to think about your passions and talents and even work on ikigai. These are useful steps in considering such a project fully and thoroughly.
As with any approach relating to personality, a number of precautions must be taken with the strengths approach. Character strengths should not be used as a sole decision criterion to determine whether a profile corresponds to a position or a career. These can indeed be expressed in various ways depending on the individual and the context. Moreover, no one is reducible to their force profile. The skills, experience, composition of the work team, and individual preferences are just a few examples of elements that must also be taken into account when considering a professional project.
And whatever happens, once the hiring has been confirmed or the launch of a new activity has been carried out, you will have to remain vigilant in order to continue to mobilize your forces. It will only bring you positively whether you are self-employed or working for a third party. It would be a shame to forget them!
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Linley, P.A., & Harrington, S. (2006). Playing to your strengths. The Psychologist, 19(2), 86-89.
Dubreuil, P., Forest, J., & Courcy, F. (2014). From strengths use to work performance: The role of harmonious passion, subjective vitality, and concentration. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(4), 335-349.
Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012). When the job is a calling: The role of applying one’s signature strengths at work. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(5), 362-371.
Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2014). The Role of Character Strengths for Task Performance, Job Dedication, Interpersonal Facilitation, and Organizational Support. Human Performance, 27(3), 183-205.
Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2016). Your Strengths are Calling: Preliminary Results of a Web-Based Strengths Intervention to Increase Calling. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(6), 2237-2256.
Littman-Ovadia, H., Lazar-Butbul, V., & Benjamin, B.A. (2014). Strengths-Based Career Counseling: Overview and Initial Evaluation. Journal of Career Assessment, 22(3), 403-419.