10 Ways to Identify Your Top Selling Points in Your Job Search - dummies

By Amanda McCarthy, Kate Southam

When you’re job-hunting, modesty can get in your way. So can winging it. You need to be able to convey your top selling points whenever the right opportunity arises. This includes your cover letter and resume but it could also include chatting to a key contact after a chance encounter at a networking event.

This shouldn’t be a ‘boast-a-thon’ but more a way for you to gain a clear picture of what you have to offer an employer. To help you understand your competitive edge, follow these simple steps. Obviously, you’ll know your career history when creating your resume but this exercise is about picking up those skills and areas of knowledge you may have forgotten about or never identified in the first place.

Think of 10 words now!

Without thinking too much, jot down the first 10 words that come to mind to describe you. Not all the words will necessarily be strengths but this simple and quick exercise will get your creative juices flowing.

What comes naturally and effortlessly?

Think of the work tasks that other people find a struggle but that you find dead easy — even enjoyable. This is a great way to identify your true strengths. What do you excel at and love doing that most other people run from?

Dig up your old performance reviews

You knew there was a reason you kept all those old performance reviews right? Look for the areas of skill, behaviours and attributes your boss rated most highly. Read those comments carefully. How did past managers describe your greatest strengths?

What problems have you solved?

Think of the specific problems you have solved at work. What were those problems? What strengths did you draw on to come up with, and then execute, a solution? What was the outcome? Now we’re getting somewhere.

Review the messages on those farewell cards

The office farewell card is one of those items we tend to hang onto. Yours might be in a box in the garage or a bottom drawer. Dig them out. Those messages hold clues as to what your co-workers regarded as your greatest strengths.

Take a spin around your feedback loop

Time to look through the complimentary notes, emails, on-the-spot rewards from a manager, and ‘thank you’ cards you’ve received. You may not have kept them from all jobs (although you should) but see what you can find. There is gold there somewhere. You’ll find reoccurring themes like being super helpful or calm in a crisis, or lending a strong shoulder to lean on. These are all strengths.

Many a truth said in jest

Co-workers and family members joke with us about us. Some of these jokes are funny to everyone but us, however they often contain a truth or two and can reveal our strengths. People often joke to hide their irritation at our strengths that illuminate their weakness. For example, ‘Oh Tim, you’re such a stickler for the rules.’ Translated this could mean you’re strong on process and procedures as well as ethics. When people poke fun, what do they really say?

Your personal attributes could be professional strengths

Staying with the friend and family theme, what are you best known for? Being the first to help set up before a party or clean up after? Being the person called on to say a few words at a birthday bash or anniversary celebration? What strengths do these roles reveal about you?

Be upfront and ask

Call on those nearest and dearest, including people you have worked with, to nominate your top three strengths. Be sure to ask for an example of how you applied this strength to solve a problem or assist someone. You may see patterns or uncover strengths you have never considered attributing to yourself before.

What irritates you or makes you struggle?

Another way to flush out a strength is to think of those tasks and activities that you hate or avoid. Knowing your weaknesses is a simple way to identify your strengths, as they are often the exact opposite.