In the last article of our How To Stand Out series, life coach Bibi Caspari talked about how considering your passions can help separate any job seeker from the competition. Though passions are powerful, Caspari also finds that defining your strengths in order to articulate them to your potential employer is another way to help a job seeker stand out.
“Everybody has strengths,” said Caspari.
Caspari works with a lot of at-risk individuals, both youth and adult. She’s found they typically feel they don’t have a whole lot to offer a company because they’ve been in jail or prison. They don’t think they can get hired, which sets them up for failure.
“A lot of people don’t see their own strengths,” said Caspari. “Whether you’ve done time or not, getting a fresh perspective from a life or career coach can help you notice things about yourself you never thought could be strengths in the workplace.”
But how does one even begin to define strengths or how to stand out? One of Caspari’s courses, “Looking at Strengths,” helps answer this question by asking five questions that help individuals pinpoint what they are good at.
The questions include:
What kind of activities do I like to do? What makes me happy? What are my talents and skills? What are my accomplishments? What are my best qualities?
In Caspari’s experience with this activity, the hardest question to answer for most people is, “What are your accomplishments?” She recalls a time when she was working with an at-risk kid who was having a hard time finding any accomplishments in his life. His aspiration was to be a professional soccer player, and he participated in soccer teams, but felt that wasn’t considered an accomplishment because it was something that was easy for him to do.
“It really broke my heart because here’s a kid who, very obviously, was beaten up by life,” said Caspari. “We don’t allow ourselves to see our wins or successes.”
She went on to say that a good way to get to know our strengths is by having an accomplishment story ready for an interview. “In our accomplishment stories we might think of one of our accomplishments that brings a number of our skills together and share it in a way that is a short story that brings those strengths to life,” said Caspari.
Saying things like, “I’m an organizer,” “I’m a team player,” “I’m adaptable,” and so on doesn’t tell employers what your strengths are. If you bring up a specific instance where your strengths really shined, telling that story will definitely help you stand out from the other people who tell employers the same old list with generic words that don’t really tell employers who you are.
“Depending on who you are, you want to highlight yourself in different ways,” said Caspari.
As a leader of a non-profit organization that teaches life skills, Caspari never considered how organized she really was. “I worked alone a lot,” she said, “and I had no one to compare myself to, but I’m really organized and because it comes so naturally to me I don’t even see it at times.”
It’s important to ask ourselves what our strengths are because the more we get to know ourselves, the easier it will be to show other employers who we are and what makes us stand out from other candidates.
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