Sunday, September 18, 2011

Additional Blog

Hi!  As I've been busy with work lately, I've had trouble coming up with inspiration for "employment" type posts.  In the event of some recent happenings, I have started a second blog.  Check it out at:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

StrengthsFinder 2.0- Preparing for the Interview

Let's ponder workplace skills, shall we?  My boss is great at anticipating when we need doughnuts,  my coworker, Kim, is great at organizing material and making documents look appealing...and then I found this one that describes me:

Only kidding!  :)  

We all have skills- numchuck skills, bowfighting skills, computer skills.  We're also pretty aware of the ones we don't have.  For instance, I'm very good at grammar and can write carefully crafted, semantically sound and uplifting emails.  I am not, however, particularly gifted with coming up with answers to questions on the fly (I'm a much better when I can plan or research them first).

Read About Your Strengths!

Whether you're preparing to develop yourself at your current job, find a new job or just plain like to read self-improvement books, I have a book to recommend!  In lieu of skills, it discusses broadly: strengths, the abilities behind the skills. 

Strengthsfinder 2.0 is the second edition of the popular book by Tom Rath designed to help people discover and work on their strengths.  Upgraded from the first edition, 2.0 includes a one time assessment designed to measure your self-perceptions, preferences for tasks and human interaction style. It identifies your strengths and gives you different ways to use each one in a current job or in your life in general. Per a review of the author, Jennifer Robison pointed out in her article,"No amount of training will help you excel in your areas of weakness. You can't do anything you want to do -- or be anything you want to be -- because you're just not going to be good at everything." And so true.  If you try to be good at everything at work, you're going to lose yourself, go crazy, and do one of two things: be a big stress ball or withdraw completely because the task is so daunting--- all of which will make you burn out.

Early on, Tom mentions that something that is easy for you and that makes you feel good and successful is a strength.  So if organizing things makes you feel empowered and accomplished, it is a strength!  While most people spend an agonizing amount of time fixing their shortcomings, a better use of time is to use it to get to know what you're best at and use it in your workplace.  

Included in the purchase of the book is an online code that is used to take an online test.  These results determine your top 5 strengths.  For instance, mine were: Learner, Teacher- good at teaching; Intellection-  likes ideas and thinking about concepts; Rsponsibility (gets everything done and feels ultra-accountable) and Activator-  likes to act on new ideas.

Once you get the results of your top 5, Part II is devoted to helping you understand your 5 in depth (and learn about the other ones you didn't score as highly in).  This is organized well-  first a description, second, what people sound like who have this strength from many different careers, third, ideas for action and my favorite: working with others who have the strength (a section for employers or managers, I imagine)

Some of the other themes:

What I Liked About It:

It just makes sense!  Why spin your wheels!? People who have a natural talent at something can also add to that talent by building skill upon natural talent.  In contrast, if you don't have a natural talent at something, trying to add skills, while adventurous and a great experience by other means, is just frustrating and creates feelings of worthlessness in other areas of your life.  More than likely, you'll keep getting frustrated until you quit until the damage is done.  For example: I am great at being creative, but I have a really hard time organizing-  my process is messy, but I get the job done.  The more I try to be an organizer, the more I make a mess of things!

When I was unemployed and was applying for jobs, I read this book and elaborated on strengths at my interview when I responded to questions.  The interviewers eyes lit up as I briefly highlighted a few since this was now being used as a tool for their employees to develop their current employees "on the job".  I didn't get the job I applied for, I did have a lot of great connections after the interviews and really believe that this book helped pave the way.  And within two interviews after reading the book, I landed a job! While my new job probably was the result of getting a lot better at interviewing over a few months, the book gave me the confidence to speak about what I was good at- and I could back it up with information from the book. In my opinion, it's an effective tool for prepping for interviews!

What I Thought Needed Improvement:
I would have loved to seem more of were : lists of tasks or ideas on developing or using each strength.  For example, typically, what tasks bring a person with this strength fulfillment if they have "Responsibility" strength?  What things will make me feel productive if I do them if I am an activator?  Voicing my opinion in meetings, inventing things?  

Whether you're unemployed and very much anticipating your return into the workforce or already employed and looking for a job change or promotion, this book really makes you think.

A high recommendation!
4 and a Half Professional Penguins!


Without having read the book, what do you think your strengths are based on the titles?  (Then get the book, take the test and see!)
Based on what you read, would you read the book?