“I’d love to make a career change, but how do I figure out what my real talents and skills are?”
“Ugh, I don’t like what I’m doing at my job now—but what would I would be great at doing?”
“There’s got to be something that’s a better match for me, but what?”
Have you ever sat there and think about those thoughts?
One of the most difficult parts of deciding which career path to pursue is figuring out what you’re great at—other than what you’re doing at your current (unfulfilling) job.
But don’t worry: You are already more amazing than you give yourself credit for. In fact, you have plenty of job-related talents and skills—you just need to uncover them. To get started, ask yourself these three questions.
1. What Do I Love About My Career?
Take out your most recent resume (yes, I know—ugh) and take a serious look at all of the jobs and responsibilities you have had. If you’re just starting out, think about school, volunteer, and extracurricular activities, too.
Now, circle the things that you most liked doing. What, specifically, were your favorite parts about each job?
Once you’ve done that, think about any job tasks that don’t appear on your formal resume, but that you really enjoyed—like mentoring new employees, leading employee orientation, choosing the flower arrangements for the office, or throwing happy hours, for example. Jot those down, too.
All of these activities and tasks that you enjoy are worth examining because they’re likely tied to some of your greatest strengths. Throwing a happy hour could be related to a talent for organization and event planning. Running employee orientation could mean you have a gift for training and communication or for professional development.
Spend some time thinking about what you liked and why—and that’s your first clue to where your career could go next.
2. Where Do I Lose Track of Time?
What hobbies, activities, or tasks occupy your full attention so much so that you are completely engaged in the present moment? You look up at the clock, thinking that no time has passed, and poof! Three hours have gone by.
These could be aspects of your current job (brainstorming names for the next product launch, working with the graphic design team on the artwork for an upcoming ad), or they could be part of your personal life—being with children, blogging, or helping your friend craft a business plan, for example.
Start noticing these moments of time passing, and ask yourself: “What was it that I loved about that activity? What kept me so engaged?” Whatever it was is most likely tied to talent or interest that could easily become a transferable work-related skill—or even your next career.
3. What are My Greatest Strengths?
Finally, take a moment for self-reflection and ask yourself: “What do I think are my greatest strengths?” Be proud—list things that you normally wouldn’t say about yourself and brag a little bit.
And then, if you’re feeling brave (and I hope that you are by now) email three people in your life who you trust and ask them what they find most inspiring about you. It can feel awkward to ask, but tell them that you’re doing some career exploration and value their opinion and feedback. I guarantee you’ll be surprised and intrigued by what you hear in response.
Now, take a look at all this information you’ve put together. What themes or trends do you notice? How does it feel to look at all of those lists, chock full of talents and skills? What have you learned about what you are good at?
Maybe you’ve found that your eye for detail, crazy clean desk, and ability to always make people feel comfortable and motivated means that you’re destined for success in company leadership. Or that your love of fashion, articulate long emails, and witty sense of humor merit exploring the blogging world.
Don’t feel pressured to get the answer exactly right in this moment—instead, allow yourself to just explore possibilities. And take a deep breath of relief! You’ve now armed yourself with a map of your talents and skills, and you can start really thinking about what to do with them next.