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Strengthening your Strengths Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

One of my favorite motivational speakers is Marcus Buckingham, the co-author of Now, Discover Your Strengths. In this book, Marcus explains that managers are generally instructed to complete performance appraisals for their employees based on their strengths and weaknesses. Typical performance review meetings include 10 minutes about the employee's successes in the past year and the rest of the time is devoted to a conversation about how the employee can improve their weaknesses by taking classes or completing "stretch assignments".

Marcus believes that employees are much more likely to be successful when they are encouraged to take on more responsibilities that involve their strengths. Managers should discuss their employee's weaknesses only briefly and then re-focus their attention on potential projects in areas in which 1) they excel and 2) they enjoy. This will result in a much more productive, efficient, and satisfied employee.

When you’re searching for your next position, try to avoid jobs with responsibilities that you would rather pull your hair out piece by piece than do. At the same time, try to think of the parts of the job that you love so much that you would do them for free and search for positions with those types of responsibilities.

For example, if you are an Executive Assistant and you love designing spreadsheets in Excel, search for positions supporting a CFO or a VP of Sales. If you detest scheduling travel arrangements, choose a company that only has employees in one location rather than spread all over the country. If you love to be busy and take on extra projects, choose a smaller company that relies on its associates to wear numerous hats.

Think about strengths in terms of sports. Let’s say your son tells you this summer that he wants to try baseball, soccer and golf, all at once, because he can’t choose just one. You take out a second mortgage on your house to pay for these activities and then sign him up. All of sudden, your son starts exhibiting skills on par with Tiger Woods and wants to do nothing but play golf, eat and sleep (and occasionally go to the movies with a girl). Would you encourage him to continue to play baseball and soccer if he was only average or would you pay for golf lessons so that he could hone his skills?

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Spend the time that you have now to really get clear on what you want your next career move to be. This is the perfect time to expand your horizons and think outside the box. What responsibilities have you loved owning that you also excelled at? What have you wanted to do more of that you haven't had the chance to yet? What business would you start if you didn't need lots of money to do it? The answers to these questions will help you recharge and re-evaluate how to make your career dreams come true.
 
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!