How to discover your strengths

If you’ve ever been asked, “What are your strengths?” in a job interview, you’ll know it’s not always an easy question to answer. It can be even more difficult if you’re asking the question of yourself.

If you have been out of the workforce for a while, or you’ve been in the same role or industry for some time, figuring out what you’re good at can be an important step to navigating your way towards a satisfying new job or your dream career.

You only need to browse the self-help and career sections of Amazon or your local bookstore to see that realising our strengths is something a lot of people struggle with. We’ve made it easy for you by collating our top tips so you can start uncovering your talents today.

How to discover your strengths

What were you good at when you were 5, 10 and 15 years old?

Sometimes the clues to our strengths lay in our past. Think about the things you’ve always been good at, or have seemed to come naturally to you over your lifetime. What were the subjects you excelled at in school? What did you want to be when you grew up? What areas got the most ticks on your report card?

Many of us have skills and areas of expertise that we take for granted and succeed at without so much as a second thought. Thinking back on the strengths that emerged in your youth can be a great starting point to discovering what you’re good at now, even if it seems far removed from who you are as an adult.

Listen to your mum (or colleagues, or friends)

Are you often praised for certain skills or talents? What do people tell you you’re good at? It might be your exceptional reporting skills at the office, or the empathetic and supportive advice you give friends. It could even be your uncanny ability to command the attention of an otherwise unruly team (or parents) at your child’s sports club.

Take note of compliments (and actually start believing them), think about your last workplace performance review, and pay attention to the good feedback you receive on the regular.

What excites you?

Look around your workplace and you’ll see that people become more enthusiastic and focused when they’re working on tasks that excite and motivate them. This isn’t coincidence – it’s human nature. When we enjoy doing something we pour more effort into it, which usually leads to cultivating expertise in that area.

This is part of the reason so many people believe in the importance of doing work that inspires you, or that you’re passionate about. It’s not idealistic or unrealistic – it’s about using your excitement and enthusiasm to drive your strengths and build success.

Explore your potential

You’ll never know if you’re good at something until you try it, so start cultivating a curious mindset, and try new things to uncover new talents. Read articles and books about subjects and industries that interest you, and if something really jumps out, take a course in that field to expand your skill-set. You may discover a hidden calling or strength you never knew existed.