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Focus on your career strengths and the rest will follow

By Fi Darby

If you look back at your career, you’ll undoubtedly see both successes and failures. These highs and lows are to be expected. Things that once brought you achievement might not do so as easily now. It’s also possible that things you previously saw as weaknesses have now become success factors. 

All of this modification is natural but it may cause you to ask yourself questions, not just about your current strengths and weaknesses but how these fluctuations might affect your future career

‘I thought I understood my strengths and weaknesses’

career development concept

Let’s look at strengths first. In a busy life, it can be tricky to find time to focus on exactly what you’re good at. It can be even trickier to take action on that information. From time to time, we’ll hear the words, ‘Well done!’ but these tend to relate to specific achievements rather than the skills it took to get there. One way to investigate your strengths is to pick an occasion where you were successful and look carefully at the skills you utilised.

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself:
  • Was I really well organised?
  • Did I utilise helpful emotional intelligence?
  • Did I bring important specific knowledge to the job?
  • Did I work well as part of my team?
  • How useful was my previous experience?
  • Was I prepared to learn on the job?
  • What was my Unique Selling Point (USP)?
The last one on this list, your unique selling point, is a really interesting one because you’ll probably find that it changes overtime. If you’re well organised, you’re likely to stay that way; if you brought some unique knowledge to a job, that knowledge is probably no longer unique. One way to maintain an understanding of your USP is to undertake additional training. You don’t need to make drastic career changes to do this; online courses are flexible enough to sit comfortably alongside a busy career.

We tend to spot our weaknesses more easily than we do our strengths. Sometimes we allow our strengths to go unnoticed because there are things that seem easy to us. We also tend to compare ourselves harshly to other people. However, we rarely miss weaknesses because we generally put them in the category of things we can change. Striving to change our strengths and weaknesses is called a ‘growth mindset’. It’s a useful career development tool but most effective when we focus on our career strengths and not just our weaknesses.

I can’t get better at everything

It’s hard enough striving to be the perfect employee, let alone trying to keep that perfection up throughout your career. Perhaps it’s time we stopped focusing on our weaknesses and focus on building up our strengths. It’s important to recognise your weaknesses but try not to worry about them too much. Besides, there is every possibility that your weaknesses can improve as soon you adopt a strength-based approach to your career.

Good for you, good for your organisation

One interesting piece of ‘positive psychology’ research found that working on their strengths actually made people happier

The other good news here is that a strength-based approach is also great for your employer. From strength-based interviews to a strength-based culture, allowing employees to use their strengths can result in improved employee engagement, leading to better business outcomes. 

You and your employer can work together to improve your strengths by:
  • Making sure you both understand your strengths
  • Giving your strengths formal recognition
  • Giving and taking opportunities to use these strengths
  • Making sure that your responsibilities and strengths are in alignment
  • Offering and taking strength-based opportunities for further training

Keeping up with the changes

changes concept

One really important thing to understand is how your strengths and weaknesses can change overtime. Weaknesses can often improve or be turned into strengths. Strengths can improve but overtime they also risk becoming stale or obsolete.  This is particularly true in fast-moving industries such as information technology. 

Keeping up to date with advancing skills is a vital element of your strength-based career approach. Online information technology courses are a great example of how a flexible learning system can help you maintain your performance at work while improving on your career strengths. By doing the research about courses and training opportunities, you’ll be able to make useful suggestions to your employer when it comes to your performance review.

A new mind-set and a new way of looking at your career

If you’re losing your spark at work and starting to feel like you’re getting nowhere fast, it may be time to take a good look at your approach to strengths and weaknesses. We all have both but the way we deal with them can have the biggest positive impact as we move through our careers.
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.