I get this question ALL the time:
“How do I learn my strengths AND show those to employers to get interviews and job offers?”
You might think this is a great thing to want to do — figure out what you’re good at, and then demonstrate those skills and strengths in your resume, applications, and interviews.
But here’s the hard truth: Hiring managers don’t care about your strengths.
Right now you might say, “Hunh? Of course they do! In fact, just last week the interviewer from XYZ Corp. asked me about my strengths and weaknesses. You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Before you write me off as a know-nothing who has absolutely no business giving people advice on how to change their careers, listen to what I have to say.
Hiring managers may ASK about your strengths (and weaknesses). But they only do that as a way to get to what they REALLY want to know:
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HELP THEIR COMPANY?
The difference might be slight, but it’s distinct AND critical. If you go into your next interview wondering how you can show off your strengths, you’re missing the point.
You’re focusing on YOU and what potentially will make you fulfilled, while the person interviewing you only has one thing on his or her mind: Are you more or less likely than the other applicants to make their lives easier or better?
If the answer is “yes” and your future responsibilities happen to fall into your sphere of strengths, GREAT.
The fact that you consider customer service a strength doesn’t matter in the least if the job you’re interviewing for doesn’t involve customer service. Likewise, maybe you don’t list “negotiation” among one of your core skills because you’re actually much better at, say, creating a feeling of community and team spirit. But, you’re actually pretty good at negotiation — better than the other applicants — and so you might get a job offer even though the position lies squarely outside of what YOU would consider your strengths.
See the problem? You cannot rely on the hiring manager or applicant screener to intuit what your strengths are, and if you’ll be happy at their company in that role. That’s YOUR job. In fact, you shouldn’t even be sitting down to interview with someone unless you’re pretty darn sure you’d be happy in the position they’re looking to fill.
So instead of saying, “How can I show off so I get lots of interviews and offers,” I want you to ask, “How can I figure out my strengths at a really deep level so I know without a doubt where I’ll be happy and fulfilled, and then interview ONLY for those positions where I get to spend the most time in my core strengths?”
The result of re-angling your question is threefold: (and that's a lot of “fold”) 😉
1. In the interview process, you’ll easily be able to demonstrate your potential value because you’ve got scads of examples of how you’ve been using these natural strengths (what we at HTYC call “signature strengths”) your whole life.
2. You’ll be more satisfied in the long run because your responsibilities comprise tasks, projects, and activities you enjoy.
3. Once you’re hired, you’ll stand out because when you’re working in your core skills, you’re naturally awesome. (One of our clients, Maggie, changed careers and then got promoted within just months. Once she understood what her signature strengths were and actively sought out opportunities to express them in her new position, it was impossible for her NOT to shine!)
While it might be great to imagine that all you need to do is know your strengths and then wait around to be asked to put them to use (sort of the way I used to stand around at school dances, waiting for the girls to recognize how incredible I was), that’s not reality.
You’re going to be sitting for a long time — or dancing with the wrong partners — if you’re always waiting to be asked! Instead, I want YOU to be in control of your destiny.
- Figure out what you love to do and do better than anyone else.
- Determine what kinds of activities allow you to put those signature strengths to work.
- Seek out connections ONLY with the companies and organizations that match!
Once you do those three things (which we can help you with, by the way…) you’ve moved out of passive wallflower into Queen or King of the prom. And that’s when things REALLY start to happen! Woohoo!
Interested in learning more about how to identify and leverage your signature strengths? Talk to our team about coaching or how we can help you! apply here