How to Identify your True Strengths and Weaknesses

Before writing your résumé you should have an understanding of your key strengths and weaknesses. This article provides a bit of inspiration on how to identify yours.

Preparation is very important for a successful job hunt. Before even starting your CV or updating it, take the time to look inwards and try to understand what defines you a person and a professional.

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This particular post is about identifying your strengths and weaknesses. It’s an important exercise to do as knowing your strengths provides you with arguments for why you are a person worth hiring for a given position. Knowing your weaknesses is equally important. Nobody is perfect, and the recruiters know that and expect you to recognise it as well. You should be able to identify your weaknesses because self-awareness enables you to keep developing and improve yourself, which is exactly the kind of employee they are looking for – especially among the younger talents.

Let’s look at three possible ways of identifying your strengths and weaknesses.

The self-assessment way
The no-shortcut self-assessment approach. All you need to do is take a 30-45 minute timeout to think about a couple of things. Ask yourself a sequence of questions that are designed to get you thinking about when you have shown strengths and weaknesses. With no further ado, here are the questions; we’ll start with the strengths:

Think about your current or last job:

  • What were you greatest accomplishments?
  • What talents did you utilise achieving these accomplishments?
  • What tasks did you feel you excelled at?
  • What have you gotten positive feedback on?

Think about your early teen years:

  • What activities came very easy for you?
  • Did you stand out at anything in particular?

Have you taken any courses or gotten training in a specialized skill?

Now let’s turn to the weaknesses:

Think again about your current or last job:

  • What did you struggle with?
  • What tasks did you try to avoid?
  • What have you gotten feedback on that you could improve?

The questions themselves does not provide the strengths and weakness per se, you need to interpret your answers to find them.

The peer input way
The second way is to seek out input from trusted friends and colleagues. It requires that you have full confidence in each other for this to work. But if you have it, asking that person to identify your top strengths and weakness is absolute gold, because it liberates the identification completely from your own perception. Parents usually don’t work because they are equally, if not more, biased than you are.

The test based way
The third way can serve as inspiration if you find yourself stuck with the first approaches. The internet has become a great source of just about anything. Many personality tests can be used for this purpose. But I have recently found and taken a test that is really effective in identifying strengths and weaknesses. It takes about 15-20 minutes in which you answer some 120 questions. After that you are presented with a list of 24 character strengths in ranked order.

Essentially, the top five to eight are your key strengths. I found some of them are a bit out of place in a working context. But taking the time to think about why they ended up in the top, you are usually able to link them to a few examples you have experienced in a work or school situation. The follow days you might think through your day’s activities to see where were used and get even more concrete.

The test has a caveat in that the intent is to find strengths that give you energy at work. Imagine, for example, that one of your strengths are social intelligence. You will thrive in a position with high exposure to and interaction with other people, whereas others that rank that particular strength low will see energy dwindle away quickly. The reason I think the test still has merit in this context is that if you get energy in these areas you will, more likely than not, perform well when leveraging that strength.

Conversely, the bottom strengths are elements that, if they take up a large proportion of your time will leave you demotivated and thus not perform below your full potential. This means that you might be able to get inspiration for your weaknesses from the bottom of the ranked list.

The test is completely free and can be accessed through VIA Institute at All you need to do is register (see the top right corner) – it only takes a few minutes. It is well worth your time. After filling out the test you will receive an overview in a PDF.

These three approaches can work in isolation. But if used together, provide a very powerful insight into your strengths and weaknesses.

Please be aware that I have no affiliation with VIA Institute who provides the test mentioned above.

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  1. Pingback: Do Yourself a Favour and Identify Your Personal Traits > Career Minerals

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