One of the larger and more arduous tasks involved in managing your career – whether when looking for a new job or preparing for promotion – is systematically compiling a list of your skills. In doing so, you need to focus not only on current work skills, but on skills you may have developed in school and university, in your sports or leisure pursuits, in voluntary or community work – in fact, from every and all aspects of your life to-date. A skill is a skill and it matters little where you gained it – it may well turn out to be a valuable transferable skill that you might need in a new position or role. So don’t confine yourself to only compiling work skills.
A skill is the ability to carry out a particular task. Some skills we are very good at and others we don’t do so well. In our working life, we tend to have to use a mix of skills some of which we are very good at, others ok with, and again others that are still a challenge for us – but we still manage to get the job done.
Then there are skills that we enjoy doing and others that we don’t enjoy. Again, our jobs tend to involve some of both. When we are using skills that we enjoy doing, we feel happy and motivated in our job. Conversely, when we have to use a skill we don’t enjoy, our job is challenging, boring and discouraging.
Our strengths are those skills that we are both good at and enjoy doing. Imagine a job where you only had to utilise your strengths! Think how fulfilling and motivating that would be – a job that would make you very happy indeed!
So when you are thinking about your career direction or looking for a new position, don’t just identify your skills but rather focus on your strengths. When you have identified and written down your strengths, ask yourself (and others) “what job or role would involve using these strengths?” See if you can group or theme some of your strengths – do these suggest a job or role? Research these strengths in as much depth as you can – what you are trying to identify are all those jobs, roles or positions that use your strengths. You may not find a job or role that uses all of your strengths, but if you find one that utilises many of them, wouldn’t that be a job worth pursuing?
Our work takes up a large portion of our life, so shouldn’t we try as much as possible to ensure that we are happy at work – that our work is fulfilling and motivating. The way to do this is find a job or role that utilises our strengths.
What should we do when our job only uses some of our strengths (besides looking for one that requires more of our strengths!)? It is important for our inner happiness and contentment that we find the opportunity to use as many of our strengths as possible. So for those strengths that are unused in our work, look for other avenues to use them. Does a local charity or voluntary organisation need help that involves using some of your strengths? Would taking a committee position in your sports or leisure club facilitate using some of those unused strengths?