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Question – How do I learn my strengths and weakness in a field?

Wondering how to determine which specific parts of an industry you’re best in? Our career coach gives some advice on how to work out where you fit in a workplace.

Question: When you have little professional experience, how can you figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are in a particular sector?

It’s a great question and a really important one for people who are just starting out.

Here are some ideas.

Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses overall

Think laterally!

Your strengths and weaknesses don’t only show up at work. Think about things you do outside of work such as sports, hobbies and volunteering. Think about the times during your education when it was most similar to work – that’ll be projects and group work.

What did you enjoy, when were you at your best? What didn’t you like?

Don’t do this in a superficial way, go deep. If, say, you establish that you enjoy team sports and therefore you think teamwork is a strength: what parts of teamwork do you enjoy the most, or do best at? Is it leading or following? Is it bringing people together, keeping the team on track, resolving conflicts? Are you better or worse when the team is doing well or doing badly?

This kind of reflection will give you pointers to where your strengths are AND help you start to articulate your value to employers in a way that makes you stand out from other candidates.

Ask friends and colleagues!

It can be hard to know ourselves. So ask friends, teammates, family members and colleagues what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. It can be a bit embarrassing, but frame it authentically, something like “I’m thinking about my career, and to help me choose the right path, I’m spending some time talking to people who know me and asking them to share what they think I’m good at, when they observe that I’m at my best, and also what I could do better”.

If you can have that conversation with a dozen people, it might be the most productive thing you ever do for your career development.


Figuring out which sectors suit you

Talk to people.

Once you have developed an idea of what you have to offer, talk to practitioners in the sectors and functions that interest you. Get them to share what they do and what their challenges are.

Through this ‘conversational research’, you’ll develop a picture of whether you would be a good fit for that role or not.

Once more, don’t skimp on this valuable research. Different people will have different opinions about the same job, so gather lots of data points, be curious in your questioning, and take time to reflect on the similarities and differences in the answers you get.

The more information you can gather, the richer your understanding of the options, the better your decision making will be


Internships, short-term work experience, volunteering, freelancing, and part-time work are all great ways to try out a job without committing to it. It’s the best way to get a feel for how your strengths and weaknesses apply in a particular sector or function.

You might feel like you don’t have time for these work-based-experiments. But ask yourself this – what price would you pay for information that means you can make good decisions right at the start of your career to set you up for success?