Identifying your key strengths – or turning 1 strength into 10!

You’ve seen a great job you want to apply for…you’re getting your CV and covering letter in place…you’re thinking about what your key strengths are…none of which is easy.

But before you get your CV and job application together, it’s vitally important that you know what your key strengths are so you can fully sell your capabilities on your CV and at an interview.

Being asked to describe what we’re good at often takes us out of our comfort zone, especially when we’re put on the spot. We’ll often come up with 2 or 3 vague skills in a slightly embarrassed way to indicate we don’t want to be thought of as too full of ourselves or over-confident. But on a CV and in an interview, if you don’t clearly communicate what you’re good at how is anyone going to know?

I’ve written numerous CVs and it’s not hard to find at least 10 key strengths to include on a person’s CV.  So, if you’re looking at a new job, start thinking about ALL the transferable skills and strengths you have that will help you succeed.

Here’s a tip to help you do this…

1) Start with a key strength – I’m going to use Organising for this example. This could be at work or in your personal life, it doesn’t matter which.

2) Break down the key strength into additional strengths needed to make up this key strength. Using the example of being an excellent organiser, the additional strengths you would probably have are:

  • Attention to detail
  • Forward planning
  • Communicating
  • Coordinating
  • Decision-making

3) Keep thinking wider about the additional strengths needed to make up that key strength. For example, an important part of any organisation is considering the timescales. If you’re good at working these out and keeping to deadlines then further skills are Time Management and Meeting Deadlines.

4) Break down each of the additional strengths to see if you can uncover further strengths. e.g. what makes you good at Coordinating and Communicating? Often Relationship Building is key to both of these – so there’s another strength.

5) Finally, if during all this planning and organising, something goes wrong (after all, it happens!) you probably also have strengths in Problem Solving.

So, just from the 1 key strength you could now have at least 10 strengths to include on your CV and talk about at interview.

One of the things I most enjoy about being a coach is helping people draw out their strengths. Knowing what your strengths are and how they help you make a difference is a great confidence booster. We often think that the things that we do well are easy and everyone can do them but it’s not the case. Not everyone has the strengths and skills to do what it is that you do well!

If you’d like to send some time identifying your key strengths or need advice on your CV, email me at careers@sandiereedcoaching.co.uk and we can set up a call.

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