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By Joe Thouvenel, Assistant Director, IDEA CENTER at GEorge Fox university and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach

One of the most common questions asked in a job interview goes something like this: “What unique strengths would you offer in this position?”

I love that I work for a Strengths-based university. The fact that all incoming undergraduate students take the CliftonStrengths assessment offers them a myriad of opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth during this important season of transition. By discovering their own unique Strengths, students can gain a deeper understanding of themselves, what types of work they might enjoy, and what skills, talents and abilities they can bring to the table in future jobs and internships.

Having an awareness of our Top 5 Strengths is an excellent starting point for assessing and articulating the unique skills and abilities we have to offer a potential employer. And while some Strengths, like ‘Communication,’ would be perfectly acceptable to put on a resume or speak about in a job interview, others such as ‘Woo’ or ‘Input’ may leave an interviewer puzzled.

In these instances there’s a method I use with students known as “Strengths Mapping.” This approach helps the student explore the tangible skills and attributes their Top 5 Strengths exemplify. By utilizing this process, the student is able to extract specific skills-based terms that can be effectively included on a resume or discussed in a job interview.

As an example, my top Strength is ‘Arranger.’ But if I put ‘Arranger’ as a skill on my resume (or mention it in an interview) this word might not make sense to a hiring manager. However, by reviewing the description of ‘Arranger’ in my Strengths Insight Guide, I can begin to identify other terms/synonyms that speak to what my ‘Arranger’ Strength actually means for me.

While mapping this theme, I am reminded that as an ‘Arranger’ I am highly collaborative and have a knack for multi-tasking. Both of these attributes happen to be extremely relevant workplace skills that can help set me apart from other applicants. Therefore, by including these skills-based words on my resume and discussing them in an interview, I can more effectively communicate my unique strengths and what I have to offer to a potential employer.

Too often we take our Strengths at face-value or treat them as simply a label. Unfortunately, this causes us to miss the multi-dimensionality of our top Strengths as well as the various ways they exemplify who we are in how we approach work and relationships. Fortunately, exercises like Strengths Mapping can lead students, or clients, to a deeper understanding of their unique potential and innate abilities, thus setting them apart as they develop a professional brand and network.

Would you like to learn more about utilizing your Strength on resumes and in job interviews? Feel free to message me via LinkedIn.

The Oregon Career Development Association is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable and educational entity.

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