You know you are an incredibly skilled employee. But how are those skills serving your career? Do you know? What value are they bringing to each project you take on? Or each company you work for? Sometimes this is difficult to really understand or communicate. But it’s an important part of how you get from where you are to where you want to go.
Taking the time to find your strengths and focus on perfecting the skills that’ll help you be your best is an important first step. There are several high-quality strengths finder tests you can take to help identify your skills, but it’s likely you are already aware of the strengths that are at the heart of your career. Sometimes it is the ability to identify and lean on those most useful strengths and skills that will allow you to go from A to Z. Here are several things to keep in mind as you take a hard look at what makes you good at what you do, and how you can leverage those skills to become great.
Take a Hard Look at Your Soft Skills
Often, professionals get overly invested in their technical skills, or hard skills. But it’s the soft skills that will make a difference in your career. Soft skills aren’t generally ones you can learn from a class or training session, which makes them much more difficult to train into a new recruit. Either someone is organized, or they are not. Either a new hire has a way with people, or they don’t. Both skills can be learned, but it takes time and a certain ingrained aptitude for that kind of work to be successful.
Soft skills can be anything from a strong sense of self-awareness, to being optimistic, being resilient, having patience, being a good listener, or being a good coach. Think critically about what soft skills you bring to any project or team. What makes you different from your past coworkers, and how have those skills helped you and your team succeed? Those skills may be what make you most valuable to employers because the right combination of soft skills and hard skills can really drive success in the long term.
Analyze your Biggest Wins
If you know generally what your best soft and hard skills are, you can dig even deeper by looking at your biggest wins and what made them possible. What makes you feel energized in your work? What successes have you felt that you can stake your career on? What risks did you feel confident taking instead of fearful? By looking at and dissecting your biggest wins to understand your specific contributions, you’ll be better prepared to recreate those wins and leverage those specific skill combinations to set yourself and your career apart.
Take some time to do this exercise. Think of the times when you did a really great job on a challenging work project, or an accomplishment where you really felt like you earned the positive attention you got. What did you bring to the table in these instances? Ask yourself what exactly were you doing and what skills you employed to help achieve your result. Those are the skills that will also bring you future success.
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