For most people, it’s much easier to assess the skills of others than to truthfully and accurately assess our own capabilities. Others’ annoying traits and outstanding talents tend to be far clearer to us than our own, but truly knowing oneself and one’s abilities can offer major advantages in applying for jobs, or even pinning down an ideal career path. Employers aren’t interested in what we wish we could do best, but what we actually can do best, and presenting ourselves honestly can mean a much more satisfying and productive work environment for both employer and employee.
What sometimes gets in the way, though, is wishful thinking. By temporarily taming the ego and truly focusing on actual abilities, we’re able to see ourselves more clearly, and present ourselves more accurately as well. There’s a reason the age-old maxim “know thyself” still rings true more than a thousand years after it was coined.
A first step in identifying strengths is to measure achievements. Achievements illustrate the best of our abilities and skills, and are indicative of our potential for taking initiative and solving problems. To help identify these, think of things you’re proud of accomplishing, awards you may have won, and suggestions you may have made that created a positive outcome in the workplace.
Were you able to diffuse a potential conflict with a client with tact and grace? Have you been commended for initiating a new project or process at work? Are you often looked upon to train new employees or explain new procedures? Make a list of the times you’ve been praised and relate those kudos back to the basic skills they require. These are your core strengths, and they should be clearly highlighted in your resume and applications. Specific examples are always helpful, and show that you’re conscious of your value and what you bring to the table.
Come To Terms With Weaknesses
It can be hard to accept that you’re not perfect at everything, but the more you know what skills you lack, the better those skills can be addressed and improved. If you don’t like speaking publicly and struggle when asked to do so, consider enrolling in a Toastmasters class where professional stakes are low. If you’ve lost jobs due to personality conflicts, recognizing differences in the interpersonal approaches of others can help you become aware early when you’re creating conflict and nip it in the bud. Soft skills like interpersonal relations and communication can be improved, but not until you first recognize that there’s a problem!
Once you’ve got a handle on what you excel at, and what skills need work, selling yourself becomes much easier. Employees who can humbly discuss their greatest achievements, and most significant weaknesses, are more likely to apply for and succeed in jobs that match their skills. And employers will appreciate the honesty and self-awareness.