Play to your strengths and get the job you want

Job Search

Finding a job that works for you can feel like an impossible task.  Here’s how to hit the jackpot by figuring out where you excel

When it comes to picking a career, people often look to the subject they studied last – “I studied x, so I could do job y or job z” – or the skills they’ve acquired along the way. While neither of those is a bad indicator, focusing exclusively on them could mean you’re limiting yourself unnecessarily. One great way to get some more perspective on the matter is to focus instead on your strengths.

Our strengths are the things that we’re naturally good at and enjoy doing. In a work environment, your strengths might include creativity, communication, planning or problem-solving. These can also make up your skill set, but it’s worth remembering that skills, unlike strengths, aren’t necessarily the things you gain satisfaction from.

So, how can focusing on your strengths help to put you on the right career path? Well, it’s quite easy really: when we do things we enjoy, we’re more likely to excel. By looking for jobs that allow you to play to your strengths, you’re more likely to find a position in which you can feel truly fulfilled.

Learning from history

Of course, the first step is to get a clear idea of what your strengths are, and there are several ways to do this. One is to look back at your past experiences and achievements to pick out those moments when you felt motivated and satisfied and everything seemed to click into place. What were you doing at the time?

Also, reflect on what you do differently from others (in a positive way) and ask for some feedback on this from people close to you. Start by thinking about moments when you’ve received praise for something you did. Lastly, try taking a strengths test. There are many tests available for free online – just make sure you answer honestly!

Once you have identified your strengths, it’s simply a matter of identifying careers that fit them. It’s important to note that this isn’t about finding direct matches for your particular set of strengths, but rather about using your strengths as a guide for thinking about the types of roles that may suit you. So, for example, if your strengths are communication and empathy, roles in customer service may be right for you, but so might a career in HR or marketing.

Doing your homework

The key here is to combine what you’ve learned about your personal strengths with what you already know about your career goals. So, as you go about compiling a careers shortlist, consider things like your instinctive preferences, values and interests.

To find out which roles fit your strengths, you’ll need to do some digging. A simple search for “creative roles” or “jobs which require adaptability” can be a good starting point. Take the time to read different job descriptions and note down any that pique your interest. You could also have a chat with the National Careers Service to find out more about potential careers you’re interested in.

Knowing your strengths is about getting to know yourself, what you’re good at and what makes you feel fulfilled and happy. Armed with that knowledge, you’re sure to find a job that really allows you to thrive.

To find out more about the different career options the automotive industry has to offer, head to the IMI’s AutoCity careers portal

Joanna Hollingdale MIMI is the IMI’s Careers and Student Membership Manager

This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership. Time to find out more about becoming a member of the most influential community in UK automotive…?