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
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.