Strengths

Discover Your Best

The better you understand yourself, the better you can maximize your career. To understand what you do best for people who need it most, you can explore five factors to help you discover and develop your strengths:​

Experiences – Your background – Personal, educational, vocational

Abilities – What you do best – Talents, knowledge, skills

Personality – How you do what you do best – Natural behavior traits

Interests – What you like best – People, places, things, and activities you enjoy

Values – What is important to you – Work and life purpose, principles or points of pain
There is a sample table at the bottom of this post you can create to capture information from self-assessment, asking others, and leveraging any professional assessments you’ve taken.


Self Assessment

  • Inventory your experience – List places you’ve worked and work you’ve done. Make sure to include work for which you were paid and major volunteer work, educational projects, internships and extracurricular activities. Circle the places and work you did best and liked most.
  • Write keywords to describe your:
    • Abilities – What you do best; talents, knowledge, skills
    • Values – What is important to you; purpose, principles, burdens
    • Interests – What you like most: people, places, things, activities
    • Personality – Natural behavior traits


Ask Others Assessment

Get input from people who know you well: work associates, supervisors, customers, friends, and family. Have them answer the following questions, encouraging them to be completely honest. Be gracious when receiving their feedback, and thank them!

  • How would you describe my biggest accomplishments?
  • What do I do well? What are my talents, knowledge and skills?
  • What do I seem to like best? What people, places, things and activities do I enjoy most?
  • What positive personality traits come to mind when you think of me?
  • What positive values and character strengths do I possess?
  • What improvements could I make?
  • What job or career do you think would be perfect for me?


Professional Assessments

  • Leverage information from any assessments you may have taken such as: StrengthsFinder, DISC, WorkPlace Big Five, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Insights, etc.


Summarize Your Best

This sample table can house the data you’ve collected. Review all your data (self, others, and professional assessments). Look for common themes and key words to help identify your potential. This will provide you will an inventory of data when it comes time to write cover letters, update your resume, LinkedIn profile, and prep for interviews.

discover your best

How Do You Describe Yourself?

We all have positive qualities, but often don’t take time to identify them. This activity is a simple way of becoming aware of your qualities. You can even use some of them in your cover letters and interviews.

Instructions: Circle the words that relate to you. Think about how you see yourself, your character, intellect, and outlook on life. Circle as many words as you want. Be as honest and objective as possible. You can even ask people who know you well to do this activity!

Accepting Achieving Active
Adventurous Affectionate Ambitious
Articulate Assertive Attractive
Caring Charismatic Charming
Cheerful Committed Compassionate
Confident Congenial Conscientious
Cooperative Creative Dedicated
Dependable Determined Disciplined
Distinctive Dynamic Efficient
Empathetic Encouraging Energetic
Enterprising Entertaining Enthusiastic
Expressive Fair-minded Friendly
Gentle Genuine Good-natured
Graceful Helpful Humorous
Happy Imaginative Independent
Insightful Intelligent Intuitive
Knowledgeable Logical Likeable
Open-minded Optimistic Objective
Organized Orderly Original
Outgoing Patient Perceptive
Persistent Persuasive Poised
Precise Productive Professional
Quick Rational Realistic
Receptive Reassuring Responsive
Self-aware Self-confident Sensitive
Serious Sincere Skillful
Sociable Spontaneous Steady
Stimulating Strong Sympathetic
Talented Thoughtful Tolerant
Trusting Truthful Unique
Unpretentious Vigorous Warm

Should You Work for Yourself?

Self-employment isn’t for everyone. Some personalities enjoy the routine, structure, and perceived stability of being someone’s employee. Others feel like a caged animal.

Those that dream of working for themselves but won’t take the leap generally fear they won’t be able to generate enough income to live, and that’s a reasonable concern. Here’s something interesting to consider:

A team of researchers once followed a group of 1,500 people over a period of 20 years. At the beginning of the study, the participants were placed in two groups.

Group A, 83% of the sample, were people who chose a career path based solely on the prospect of making money now in order to do what they wanted later in life.

Group B, the remaining 17%, were people who selected a career path to do what they wanted now, and would worry about money later.

At the end of 20 years, 101 of the 1,500 people became millionaires. Of the millionaires, 100 out of 101 were from Group B — the group that pursued what they loved.

Ask yourself the question, What would I do if money was no object? and check out this thought-provoking video about pursuing work you love.

Maybe passion isn’t enough motivation for you. Perhaps you’re a person who needs some convincing data to decide if you should take the plunge into your own business.

The Gallup organization has identified the top 10 talents of highly successful entrepreneurs. It’s unlikely you will possess all 10 strongly, but you can find out your dominant talents, and where you’d likely need some support to ensure success. The 10 talents are:

Creative Thinker
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Creative Thinker talent have a curious intellect that helps them constantly imagine new products, services, and solutions. They are quick learners who explore various options and consider novel solutions as they anticipate the future needs of their customers.

Determination
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Determination talent pursue their goals with tenacity. They are intensely committed to success and are eager to take quick action. They rely on high motivation to turn adversity into opportunity. They can see beyond roadblocks and visualize a better future.

Confidence
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Confidence talent are keenly aware of their abilities. They harness this awareness to take quick and decisive action. They seize opportunities knowing they will succeed and use their talents to persist in the face of uncertainty and failure.

Independent
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Independent talent can single-handedly start and operate a business. They rely on high energy and extreme commitment to succeed in the grueling grind of business creation. They firmly believe their actions decide the fate of their business and are motivated to make things happen.

Promoter
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Promoter talent speak boldly on behalf of their company. They consistently communicate a clear vision of their business to customers and employees. They are great salespeople with an ability to form deep relationships and convince others to follow their well-defined business growth strategy.

Business Focus
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Business Focus talent couple sharp business instincts and a fascination with making money. They have an uncanny ability to look at data from which they can form unique insights. Ultimately, they evaluate decisions through the prism of profitability.

Risk-Taker
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Risk-Taker talent embrace challenges with enthusiasm. They have a strong, charismatic, and confident personality. They naturally focus on the rewards of success instead of potential failure. They emotionally connect with customers and exceed their expectations.

Knowledge-Seeker
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Knowledge-Seeker talent understand that information is a valuable asset. They have a deep desire to acquire knowledge about all aspects of their business. They search for new information to solve problems and succeed in complex business environments.

Delegator
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Delegator talent can trust and empower others to help grow their business. They know what their employees do best and position them to take responsibility for tasks at which they are most likely to excel. They can relinquish control and focus on growing the business.

Relationship-Builder
Definition: People who are especially talented in the Relationship-Builder talent have strong interpersonal skills that allow them to build a robust and diverse personal network. They rely on relationships to access resources and information essential to the success of their business.

If you’d like to take the EP 10 assessment to discover your entrepreneurial aptitude, you can find it here (scroll down to the very bottom of the page).

I’ve coached a number of people who just can’t seem to fall in line with being an employee and it’s usually because they have a strong entrepreneurial bent, so instead of helping them find a job, I helped them identify steps toward self-employment.

To some, the thought of starting a business can be exciting, scary, daunting, and thrilling all at the same time. If you’ve found limited satisfaction in your career, and feel a strong pull to go your own way, maybe it’s time to spread your wings and fly!

All the best to you!
Kristin

Want to Know Your Strengths?

Do you know what your strengths are, or where they fall, thematically? What’s your driving strength, and how do your strengths work together?​

Obtain your top five strengths (Clifton StrengthsFinder), or entrepreneurial potential (EP 10 assessment: Gallup Website

You can contact me at ksherry@virtuscareers.com for a 90 minute debrief to identify your Driver, Passenger, and Fuel strengths, as well as where your strengths lie and how to compensate for gaps.

All the best to you!

What’s YOUR Value?

​Let me start with the bottom line first: Knowing your value sets you apart.

Since only 25% of people know their strengths, fewer still have translated their true strengths into a value statement.

If you’d like to learn more about identifying your strengths, read this article.​

Before I continue, I’ll share two caveats:

1. I’m not suggesting your worth or value as a person is rooted in your job.

Human value does not lie in aspects of work, or performance. The context of this article is to convey the value you’ll bring an employer to help you land a role that is well-suited for you, and will ignite your passion (that is another article, for another time).

2. I almost never ask people, “What do you do (for a living)?” I prefer to learn about people through organic conversation. I like to know if they read, and if so, what book might they recommend? I like to discover what people are passionate about. If that leads to their work, well, so be it!

The truth is, many people ask this question, and you should be prepared to answer it without merely stating your job title. That’s boring. Even worse, saying “I’m a project manager” doesn’t tell me anything about why you’re a good project manager. What value do you bring?

Value statements

Your value statement (sometimes referred to as a value proposition) is simply the primary benefit you can bring to an employer.

Why have a value statement?

Well, value statements:

  • Are a great way to answer the question, Why should I hire you?
  • Provide an opportunity to explain what makes you unique
  • Frame what you’re good at in networking or exploratory conversations
  • Provide great language for your LinkedIn profile summary
  • Can be leveraged in your resume, and cover letter
  • Demonstrate you’ve got a handle on who you are
  • Set you apart (most people don’t have one)
  • Display confidence
  • Need more reasons? I could continue, but let’s get down to brass tacks…

Example value statements

Here are some example value statements of people who know the strengths they want to highlight to employers:

  • I have confidence, drive and courage to take risks, overcome problems, and take on new ideas. My communication skills, flexibility, adaptability, enthusiasm, and optimism translate to social ease within, and across, teams.
  • I’m an innovator. I have a natural tendency to come up with new ideas and combinations of ideas spontaneously to solve complex problems. I’m able to identify solutions that lead to success, and turn those solutions into actionable steps to bring about excellence. My strong communication skills ensure I effectively manage change throughout a transformation.
  • I analyze and strategize before I act. In my work, I’m organized and structured. I can be counted upon. I set high standards for myself and I believe I can achieve them. I scan available ideas and concepts, weighing them against a current strategy, and plan for every conceivable contingency.

One might be thinking, “Hey, I own a house cleaning business, and I’m not going to say that when someone asks me what I do for a living.”

That’s a fair criticism. You should have two versions of your value statement; one spoken, one written.

Here’s an example:

John Doe: “What do you do for a living?”

House Cleaner: “I provide white glove cleaning services to help people bring order to their busy lives, and free them up to have more time to focus on what matters to them.”

Personally, I’d like to hire a cleaner that expresses purpose in their work, and desires to bring value to my family. It’s certainly more compelling than, “I clean houses.”

The best advice I can give is your value statement must be comfortable for you. You’re the one that’s going to speak it, so it has to feel natural.

Creating your value statement

1. Make a list of words that are true of you.

Using feedback you’ve repeatedly heard about yourself, assessments you’ve taken, and self-evaluation, generate a list of words or short phrases to describe you (e.g. responsible, achievement-oriented, peace-maker, negotiator, idea-generator, problem-solver, accurate, diversity-oriented, safety-conscious, self-confident, learning agile, comfort with ambiguity, motivates others, entrepreneurial, diplomatic, organized).

2. Cross out words and phrases that are ambiguous or cliche, such as “team player”, and choose words that are specific. What makes you a team player? Are you collaborative? Do you listen well? Are you empathetic? Do you have strong accountability? Say that, instead.

3. Ask others the following:

  • What are three words that describe me?
  • What am I really good at?

When writing this article, I turned to my husband and asked him the questions. These were his answers:

Passionate. Dedicated. Visionary.
Reading and understanding people.

Let’s create a draft value statement using his feedback:

Using my ability to read and understand people, I help my clients see a vision for their future. My passion and dedication inspires them, and helps them strive for success.

I wrote that off the cuff in four seconds, but hopefully it demonstrates potential to help you express the value you bring. It’s a great starting point to craft and hone your message.

I would not have thought of those words, nor would I have answered what I’m good at the same way. The perspective of others is valuable. Tap into it.

4. Once you’ve drafted your message, practice aloud. If it doesn’t flow, reorganize it until it feels natural.

5. Tell someone else. Practice your value statement on your partner, or a close friend. Ask for their feedback, make adjustments, and repeat.

Now, I leave you with the question. What’s your value?

All the best to you!
Kristin​