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May 13, 2016
Lead Your Career By Leveraging Your Strengths
“Wouldn’t it be great if most of us could have work that called upon our strengths most of the time?” –Marcus Buckingham, Researcher and best-selling author affiliated with the Strengthfinder assessment owned by Gallup
Surely we all agree with Marcus Buckingham’s statement. It would be wonderful to have a career that fits us, where we always use our strengths! Gallup affirms that if you are lucky enough to be able to do so, you will be six times as likely to feel engaged in your job. However, sometimes we don’t know what our real strengths are or how to properly use them in the workplace to our best advantage. The following tips can help you properly channel your strengths in your career.

Identify your strengths. A strength is a combination of talent, knowledge, and skills. For example, achiever, learner, and responsibility are all examples of strengths. One easy way to identify your strengths is to use the SIGN model from the book Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham. The model is this: Success (having a natural talent for something, feeling effective when you use this strength), Instinct (you actively look forward to using this strength), Growth (when you use this strength you feel focused and want to learn more), and Needs (when you have finished using your strength, you feel fulfilled and authentic). This is important whether you already have a job, as a way to identify and leverage your strengths for greater fulfillment, or if you are currently searching for a job, as a way to explain your strengths to employers.

Action Tip: Identify your top five strengths using the SIGN model. Write them down and describe them as best as you can, even if it’s not perfect. Ask a trusted friend or family member for feedback. They may see another strength you haven’t identified.

Play to your strengths. The book Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham also talks about four ways to put your strengths to work. 1. Identify how a specific strength helps you in your current role. 2. Identify missed opportunities to use a strength. 3. Learn new skills or techniques to better your strength. 4. Build your current role around your strengths. This will help you see your weaknesses in a new light, because instead of being frustrated while trying to eliminate your weaknesses, you will focus on your strengths. 

Action Tip: Once you have identified your top strengths, ask yourself how often you use them every day. Write down what actions you can take this month to use your strengths more fully, and commit to them. Ask yourself what you can do weekly to keep your strengths in mind. This could be something simple, such as writing them on a sticky note and leaving it on your desk 

Find a mentor. Search for someone who successfully uses their strengths in the workplace. Keep in mind that according to the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, 1 in 33 million people share the same top five strengths in the same order, but preferably this person will have at least one strength in common with you. This could be someone in your social circle, in your job industry, or someone you can reach out to network with. Talk to them about how they are able to channel their strengths to get some ideas.

Action Tip: Make a list of three people you could speak to as mentors. Have them read your notes about your top five strengths and discuss with them how you are currently using your strengths and how you could use them more effectively. 

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Guest Blogger Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her team's career coaching services. Set up a Complimentary Career Strategy Session with Hallie Crawford to get advice on your career goals. *Mention you saw us on Talent Zoo and receive a free bonus if you purchase a product or sign up for coaching.* http://www.HallieCrawford.com
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