Lots of people say, 'find your strengths.' Okay, how do I do that?

Industry Matters Newsletter
Moji Bonakdar, Senior Director, Chemical Medicines

Ask trusted people about your strengths and weaknesses. Leverage your strengths by offering help to others to develop their strengths.

Greglynn Gibbs, ACS Career Consultant

Is it finding your strengths, or is it realizing what you're good at? Either way it takes a bit of self-evaluation and external feedback on what it is that you do well. Self-evaluation can be as simple as making a list of tasks you do or don't do well; making a list of successes and failures; or making a list of things you like or dislike. External feedback can include asking colleagues where they feel you are strongest or weakest, or tracking what you have done at work that has resulted in praise or recognition.

Another way to "find your strengths" is to use a self assessment tool such as ChemIDP (free to ACS members, available at chemidp.acs.org) which can help you not only find your strengths, but also identify possible career areas and professional skills based on your results. ChemIDP can also help you set goals and create a strategy to strengthen the skills that you would like to focus on. It also provides a multitude of learning and training resources necessary to do so. 

Lori Spangler, ACS Career Consultant

I would reflect on the times at work when you become totally engaged in what you are doing, when time flies by. You may have been utilizing your strengths at that time. Other questions for reflection include: When are you having fun at work? What kinds of things do people ask you to help them with? What are you praised for, by managers and team mates? Finally, there are books/quizzes (for example Strengthsfinder) that can help you identify your strengths.

Chris Bannochie, ACS Career Consultant

There are many survey tools to help one parse out their strengths and weaknesses, communication styles, etc. Focus on improving your strengths and not your weaknesses, unless the weakness is a critical flaw that diminishes your productivity.

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

ACS Career Consultants are experts and leaders working in the field of chemistry who have volunteered to support other ACS members’ career development through one-on-one career counselling. They can stimulate your thinking, ask important career planning questions to help clarify goals, provide encouragement, teach strategies for making meaningful career decisions, and aid you in your job search. Connect with an ACS Career Consultant today!

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