How To Play Up Your Work Strengths

Two women sit across a table talking to each other

What are your work strengths?

Your work strengths help you make your work easier, gain promotions, and reach goals, but playing up the skills you’re good at can also help you in some pretty big (and sometimes unexpected) ways too. 

No matter your title or job, you have skills that stand out above the rest. It’s just a matter of tapping into them and figuring out how to keep improving them and where to use them. There aren’t many skills that are monolithic – you can use them in so many ways! 

Take data analysis for example. On the surface, it seems like it would only be relevant to specific tasks, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that it requires creativity, quick thinking, and problem solving – sometimes all at once. Those are strengths that can be used all throughout your career, and even your personal life. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to see past the job or job description and get to the core of your strengths, but taking some time to delve into them will help you understand the best ways to harness them. 

3 ways to discover your strengths 

There are plenty of assessments and quizzes that will tell you about how you work best and which qualities are prominent in your professional life, but it can get confusing and overwhelming. The best way to pinpoint your work strengths is to do a little self reflection. Your true strengths might be something completely unique. 

Ask your colleagues 

Requesting feedback from managers and colleagues can be intimidating, but it’s a good way to get some insight into how you work, where you flourish, and where you need to focus on improvement. To make the most out of your request, ask specific questions like: 

  • What unique qualities do I add to the team? 
  • When do you see me thriving professionally?
  • What tasks/responsibilities do you think I’m best at handling? 
  • How have I grown in this role? 

An honest assessment can feel a little awkward, but it’s worth it and will pay off in the end. 

Embrace your values

Sometimes finding your work strengths requires a deep dive into what’s most important to you. This might include transparency, efficiency, flexibility, communication, or creativity. Values are unique to every person and probably part of the reason why you excel in certain areas over others. When you have your list, think about how you apply those values in your professional life, and how you embrace them in your role or goals. Maybe you prioritize listening to enhance team communication, or maybe you’re quick to master a new skill because you value curiosity. 

Assess your goals

Goals and strengths tend to go hand in hand because goal planning requires a degree of honesty and dedication. Focusing on precision, relevancy, and action – all aspects of good goal planning – are also important aspects of finding your work strengths. 

Look at your goals and dive into how you tackle them. It might be best to look at goals where you had a detailed plan or something you’ve already achieved, so you can look through your progress and determine where you struggled and where you thrived. 

Level up and leverage your strengths

Playing to your strengths is a common piece of advice, and many people mistakenly think that means putting most of their focus there, but it’s actually so much more. 

You may have certain strengths because you worked hard to develop them, and others you might have because they come naturally to you. Either way, it’s important to remember that they’re not just something you’re good at. Your strengths have the ability to make you a great leader, a lifelong learner, and an innovator. 

Strengths are also constantly evolving and can serve you and your career in many ways. Start thinking about how you have purposefully (and maybe unknowingly) used those skills in the past. How do they align with other aspects of your work? You can start to think of your strength as the center of a web. Build out from there, keeping in mind all of the ways your strengths infiltrate different parts of your role (or life in general!)

Other ways you can play up your strengths include:

Sett goals 

It’s important to know your work strengths for a lot of reasons – one of them being so you know where to make improvements or polish your skills. You can play up your strengths while working on other aspects of your work, and knowing where you can let up some focus can help you reassign it to where it’s needed. 

Go far with big ideas 

We often think of a strength as being something that’s easy, but that’s not always necessarily true. Your strengths can propel you even further and allow you to focus on big questions, ideas, or solutions. Your strengths aren’t just something you’re good at, they’re attributes that make you a valuable team member for a specific reason.

This means that you should also spend time honing that strength. Challenge yourself when you can. Ask yourself questions, look for a mentor, or take on a new project to see how else you can use that strength. Strengths are rarely ever rigid, so you’ll probably find that you can stretch that strength into other skills or adapt it to work elsewhere in your life.  

Watch out for the crutch

Beware of becoming too comfortable with your strength and leaning on it too heavily. A mistake that many professionals make is relying on the skills that they’re good and neglecting to focus on other areas or push their boundaries. This could actually set you back if you’re not careful. It’s good to play up strengths, but it’s also important to realize that they’re one piece of your professional life — especially when jobs, companies, and industries are constantly changing. 

If you feel like you’re getting too reliant on your work strength, shake it up by trying to use your skill in a new way.

Written by Kara Mason

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