Written by Materahub – Photo by Brooke Cagle

Workplace strengths are often defined in terms of competencies like teamwork, problem-solving, or leadership, but self-knowledge should not be overlooked. Self-knowledge is a powerful tool that can help you apply your greatest strengths to various aspects of your job, from excelling in your area of expertise to being a strong team collaborator and effective leader.

If you’re looking to advance your career, assessing and leveraging your strengths is one of the most critical things you can do. If you’re doing work that doesn’t tap into your greatest strengths, your performance and motivation will suffer along with your career. In contrast, when you’re aligned with your talents and interests, you gain a wellspring of confidence and expertise, and you do great work with a sense of purpose. Everyone around you benefits, as well.

Assessing and Applying Your Strengths

Here are 5 tips to help you assess and apply your personal strengths at work.

  1. Listen to what others say you’re good at

What skills do people compliment you on? Others quite likely see strengths in you that you haven’t noticed. For example, if you often receive positive feedback on your listening skills, creativity, or command of details, pay attention. Ask a friend or colleague to spend a few minutes reflecting on what she thinks are your greatest strengths. Then, ask yourself if the perceptions is true.

  1. Know what you love

If you were granted a wish to do anything you wanted for the rest of your working life, what would you choose? This might be an overwhelming proposal, but go for it—dream big! Look at the things you like to do in and out of work. If you love to write but don’t get a chance to do much at work, explore writing opportunities in your current position like an internal blog or newsletter for your department. If you’re an extroverted developer who loves to talk about your product, look for technical sales opportunities. Knowing where your gifts and passions lie is essential in creating a career map that plays to your greatest strengths.

  1. Find your flow state

Contemplate an ordinary workday. What types of tasks do you most like diving into? Do you prefer team scrums or writing technical specs with no interruptions? What are you doing at your desk when the hours seem to melt away?

If the hours you spend reviewing new tools for your team fly by, ask for vendor selection project work.

  1. Know your relationship style

Knowing what kind of relationships bring out the best in you and what kind are the most difficult for you will help you navigate professional waters. If one of your main strengths is executing drama-free negotiation, ask for opportunities to serve on purchasing committees or to facilitate informal mediations between team members who don’t see eye to eye.

  1. Maximize your specialties

Many job candidates rely on generalizations to find employment, such as being a “people person” or an “organizational wizard.” These are great attributes, but you’ll stand out more if you give specifics. Tell employers you are a “wizard at conference planning” or you can “build out project schedules and make accurate estimations like nobody’s business.” Maximizing your specialty not only helps your career but also makes you more valuable to your team and organization.