Play to your strengths when looking for work

In his Wall Street Journal bestseller Strengths Finder 2.0, author Tom Rath reveals that, according to the Gallup organization, across all areas, the majority of people don’t have the opportunity to focus on what they do best. More than 10 million people have been surveyed on this specific topic, and approximately seven million are falling short.

The author goes on to note that when you are not able to use your strengths at work, chances are that you:

• Dread going to work

• Have more negative than positive interactions with your coworkers

• Treat your customers poorly

• Tell your friends what a miserable company you work for

• Achieve less on a daily basis

• Have fewer creative and positive moments

So why aren’t more people seeking jobs that are in line with their strengths? The main reason for this disconnect is that most people are either unaware of, or unable to describe, their own strengths.

The author outlines 34 themes that represent an attempt to categorize talents. Individuals can take an online assessment to determine their talents. The assessment is timed and aimed to capture authentic, top-of-mind responses. Your authentic, natural responses are less likely to change over time. Check Internet sources to learn more about online testing.

Why play to your strengths? There are many reasons why, but most important is that playing to your strengths helps you to have a targeted job search. Your are more apt to obtain and succeed in a job that is a great fit for you versus working in a role for which you are not equipped.

I recently advised a client who is dealing with an unengaged staff member. After meeting with the employee, it was determined that not only had the employee outgrown the role, but she was not utilizing her strengths in her day-to-day job functions. This made her miserable and frustrated daily.

Eight hours a day, 40 hours a week is a significant amount of time to invest in a job you hate. Take time to identify what you are really good at and consider your strengths as you look for job opportunities. You will be glad you did!


Look for regular “Ready for Work” columns on finding, keeping and succeeding in meaningful work. Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to