Quick, without much thought, what are your top three strengths? Do you know them?
If that was easy, way to go! But if not so much? Maybe you haven’t spent a lot of time really honing in on your top strengths, or maybe you’ve grown since you last took a look.
Everyone has incredible strengths and over time, while you might be asked to work on some of your weaknesses, you’ll really soar if you focus on leaning into your strengths. Your strengths are made up of both hard skills (i.e. computer programming) and soft skills (i.e. communication) that you can use to stand out and excel in your career.
At any point in your career (yes, even looking at you, leaders!), it’s critical to know your top strengths as a part of your personal brand. If it’s been a while since you truly gave this some thought and got it down on paper, now is a great time to take a look.
Here are some ways to identify your top strengths and use them to stand out in the workplace:
Consider grabbing some paper and a pen to note your answers as you follow along.
Looking inside yourself for your strengths
- What were you naturally good at when you were just starting out in your career?
- As you think about your career today, what are you good at now? What skills have you learned or honed over time?
- What are things that you can do quickly, easily or efficiently?
- What do people come to you for?
- What compliments have you gotten from others?
- What do you enjoy doing? Sometimes the things you enjoy come more easily to you or are skills that have been developed over time.
Looking to others for your strengths
- Take a look at your past job performance reviews. What strengths of yours have been identified by your leaders?
- Sometimes peers, coworkers, friends or family members know our strengths better than we do. Try emailing or texting 5 – 10 trusted people and asking them “What am I good at? What are my strengths?”
- Take an online assessment, such as StrengthsFinder (Paid, through the Gallup site, or with a StrengthFinder book) or Myers Briggs Type Indicator (Free through 16Personalities) to get an idea of some of your strengths and how you can use them. If you’ve taken these before, but it’s been a few years, it’s a good idea to take these again and see if your profile has changed.
Look for patterns
As you reflect on the questions above and ask others about your strengths, you’ll likely begin to see patterns in your responses. Take some time to reflect on which strengths come up the most and which strengths could be grouped together into similar strengths.
You can also try pasting your notes or feedback from others into a free word cloud tool online, which will pull together individuals words or phrases and show you what strengths are coming up the most.
Narrowing down to your top three
Once you’ve looked for patterns, which strengths show up the most? Which three strengths truly reflect you at your best? Write these down, either in a notebook, or on a post-it, so you can see your top strengths regularly and lean into them in both big and small moments during your work day, personal brand, and career overall.
Once you know your strengths, here are some ways you can use them to be your best and stand out in the workplace:
- Incorporate your strengths into small interactions at work, such as teaching a coworker something new, supporting the growth of a peer, or sharing information about a topic you care about. When was a time within the last week that you used a strength in a small moment at work?
- Teach a specific skill to your broader team by developing a training or by setting an example of using a particular strength over time.
- Create or say yes to projects that align well with your strengths so you can utilize them more regularly and contribute your best skills to your company.
It’s likely that you’ll be able to bring your strengths to work in a variety of big and small ways, especially as you think about the ways you want to show up as an employees or leader.
However, if you’re doing this reflection and are realizing that your role today isn’t bringing out your strengths, it could be worth consider what career move might get you closer. Try asking yourself these questions:
- Are the tasks I’m being asked to do in my role aligned to my strengths?
- Would I see my strengths listed in a job description for my position?
- Is my company or team allowing me to lean into my strengths on a day to day basis?
If the answer to these is no, consider exploring what a future role might look like that utilized the best of your strengths.
By this point, you should have a list of your top three strengths that you want to utilize day to day in your professional life. It’s a good idea to reflect on this every year, or every couple of years to access how new strengths are developing and how your existing strengths are showing up in the workplace.
Still have questions? Send us a note with the career questions we’ve yet to answer on our contact page.
Now get out there and put those strengths to work!