Understanding and promoting your strengths as a professional on a regular basis is a critical component to achieving your career goals, whether you are trying to identify your ideal career path, searching for a new job or working toward a promotion. In order to obtain the highest level of job satisfaction and success, you must leverage your strengths consistently at work. However, many professionals struggle with knowing how they stand out from the crowd.
Defining your unique selling proposition is critical to knowing how you stand out from your peers and what blend of experience, skills and strengths you bring to the table.
Understand Your Strengths
Before diving into how to identify a strength, it’s important to define what a strength is in this context. In short, a strength is a combination of your inherent talents and skills. You leverage a natural talent (something that you are good at or that comes easily to you), combine it with learned skills and this creates a strength. To identify natural talents, ask yourself and those you trust questions like:
- What things have you excelled at in the past?
- What do people ask you for your opinion or advice on?
- What do you do better than anyone else you know?
When identifying strengths, don’t discount the things that come naturally to you, and don’t limit yourself to what you currently do at work. For example, you may naturally be a good public speaker, excel at explaining complicated ideas to others one on one, you may be skilled at writing or leading others. You also may be compassionate, a mediator or easily establish new relationships.
Compile a list of things that come naturally to you. If after taking some time to compile ideas you still are struggling to identify your strengths, you may find it helpful to take a career assessment. While an assessment shouldn’t be the ultimate factor in choosing a career or a job, it can help you get to know yourself better as a professional. This, in turn, will help you feel more confident and boost your job search or your career growth.
Part of what makes you marketable as a professional is your combination of unique strengths. This is what you can offer an employer or client that others can’t. This is also called your USP, or unique selling proposition. For example, a creative person who is highly organized and skilled at managing projects could be an effective event planner.
In order to identify your USP, determine your top five strengths from the list that you compiled, and combine that list with your past experience inside and outside your industry. You can also perform research to find out how you stand out from professionals in the same industry as you by researching them online or on LinkedIn. What are their strengths? What unique combination of strengths and experience do you bring to your industry that others don’t?
Promote Your Strengths
Once you have identified your unique selling proposition, you will be better equipped to promote your brand. To start, you can promote your strengths on a daily basis to achieve greater fulfillment at your job. To do this, determine how often you are currently using your strengths every day. Write down what you can do to use your strengths more often, and then put that list in a visible place to remind you to implement your ideas. In addition to greater fulfillment, this will also give you more opportunities to explain how you use your strengths and experience to a client or employer.
There are other ways you can promote your strengths and experience as well. For example, if you are currently a job seeker, promote your strengths by including them on your resume. Don’t just list them, use examples with marketable results. Answer the “Why do I care?” question for each one of the bulleted items on your resume underneath each position. In an interview, prepare situation, task, action and result stories, or STAR stories, for your top strengths and how you have been able to leverage them in combination with your experience to achieve top performing results.
Advance in Your Career
If you are seeking to reach the next level in your current career, start tracking how you use your strengths more carefully. Write down when you have utilized your top strengths and include the specific results you achieved. You will then be able to prepare a presentation to apply for your next promotion.
If you are still trying to determine your ideal career, you can work on fortifying your strengths. Try volunteer work, online classes or freelancing to get some experience under your belt. Conduct informational interviews with those who have positions you are interested in and determine if the jobs will require your strengths. You can also start to work on your personal branding statement, starting with how you want to leverage your strengths and experience on a regular basis.
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