In comparison to the time you invest in crafting your resume, employers spend only a fraction of that time reviewing it. For your resume to make it to the list of “to consider” candidates, you need to provide clear evidence that you possess the right strengths and experience for the advertised position. In this post, we’ll look at ways to incorporate your strengths in your resume. The suggestions here also apply when writing your cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
1. Uncover your strengths
I’m stating the obvious: before you can write about your strengths, you need to know and understand them.
Though we know ourselves best, we are–usually–not highly adept at identifying our strengths. There are many reasons for that, one of them being the “fallacy of ease”(Jones, 2018)–the perception that things we do well and that are easy for us are no-big-deal and/or come easily to everyone. Not so!
Luckily for us, there are several ways you can discover your strengths. Two of these are:
Review a list of strengths and reflect on which apply to you
Find a list of strengths from the internet (e.g., 92 strengths listed here) and take some time to consider which ones capture your strengths. If you’re not sure, ask other people, such as co-workers, former bosses, friends, and family to select from the list and provide an example of how you demonstrate that strength.
Take an online assessment
I’m a fan of the CliftonStrengths Assessment for discovering your strengths. Upon completing this online, paid assessment, you will receive two reports. These provide insight into your unique strengths and language you can use in your resume, cover letter, interview, and LinkedIn profile.
2. Consider how your strengths align with the position requirements
Once you have a good sense of your strengths, you’ll want to determine how these map onto the position description. One way to do that is to take the advertised job position, pull out the statements that describe the specific job requirements, and list your relevant strengths and previous experience.
To make the above concrete, let’s look at an example. Let’s say you were applying for a position as a research assistant and one of the duties performed is “Assisting with shipping and receiving and the distribution of shipments to the laboratories in the building”. If these strengths were true of you, you would list your relevant strengths as: detail-oriented, can be counted on to complete tasks, efficient and systematic. Next, you would consider any tasks you’ve done in the past that have required you to use strengths/skills/qualities that apply to the duty listed in the position.
This information can be compiled in a master document that you can add to over time and use for different applications.
3. Craft statements that demonstrate how your strengths align with the position you’re seeking
Once you determine that you want a particular position and that you’re a good fit, you want to thoughtfully articulate how your strengths would help you perform and thrive in that role.
In doing so, keep the position requirements top of mind and make it easy for your prospective employer to see how you’re an excellent candidate for that particular role.
As you craft statements that highlight the ways your strengths show up, it is helpful to be specific about the unique ways you contribute. For example, instead of using a generic statement such as “I am a good team player,” –which doesn’t describe the teamwork skills you have or approaches you take–you can highlight that you are an exceptionally reliable person who is trusted by co-workers to complete tasks on time. Or, you might indicate that your collaboration skills include seeking out the opinions of others in projects and helping people reach consensus. In doing so, you translate your strengths into qualities and skills the prospective employer is seeking.
It is highly recommended that you have at least a second set of eyes on this very important document before you send. Ask a friend, a co-worker or join our Speed Networking session on October 16, 2019, and have your resume reviewed by 6 industry professionals.
Isabeau Iqbal, BSc’93, MA’04, PhD’12 helps people discover, appreciate, and apply their strengths so they can enjoy a (more) fulfilling career.
She offers individualized support to professionals who are feeling stuck by helping them get clear on what they want and then take action. Isabeau also facilitates StrengthsFinder workshops for teams who want to explore their strengths and enhance their performance.
Isabeau is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and works part-time as an educational consultant at the UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology.