Updated: Feb 26
A question that I get asked a lot (and I mean A LOT) is “can CliftonStrengths help me choose a career?”
The answer is no, but also yes.
CliftonStrengths and Career Counseling
Career coaching, counselling and advising tools are slightly different to the CliftonStrengths tool.
The main difference is in the focus: Career tools focus on the career. They try to determine what career a person should choose based on interests and qualifications, how to manage a career change, and how to reach career goals.
CliftonStrengths on the other hand, can focus on any life area: family, relationships, spiritual, career, business, recreation, fitness & wellness, finances and education.
It asks the questions “where do you want to go with this?” “What challenges do you need to overcome right now?” If those challenges are career-based, then of course we’ll focus on that. If your focus is making friends in a new town, or boosting your wellness, we’ll talk about that instead.
Because CliftonStrengths focuses on how we approach things rather than what we do each day, it’s applications are not limited only to the professional or vocational realms.
With that said, CliftonStrengths can be key to understanding your natural ways of thinking, feeling and acting and communicating that to others when employed, job-seeking, or choosing study.
For career seekers, CliftonStrengths can:
Highlight areas of natural talent that can lead to excellence
If you know what you are best at and why, you can find activities that meet the criteria in many roles and careers. You'll have far more chances of success doing something you are naturally good at, than choosing a career you have to strive to keep up with. Your greatest potential for excellence lives in your talents, not your weakness.
For example, someone who has the talent theme ‘adaptability’ naturally tends to go with the flow and react to events as they occur. They live in the present ‘here and now.’ Do you think they will do best within a rigidly structured environment, or one where their flexibility will allow them to shine?
Of course they’ll do better where their adaptability is needed - in a rigid role it becomes distractibility. Their ability to flex and change directions and focus makes them an incredible asset in emergency services, business startups, customer service, news-casting, any role that requires attention to immediate events.
If you work with the raw talents you already have, you’ll find more success and fulfillment by capitalizing on these, instead of trying to fit yourself into a space you aren’t made for.
Provide a language to describe yourself and your natural way of working
Job Interviews, CV and cover letters and applications for study and internships all expect you to describe yourself and your strengths. The better you can describe yourself the better people will be able to imagine you in that role.
However many people struggle to do this - they don’t think of their natural talents as strengths as they are often so ingrained we don’t even notice them as different. They mistakenly believe that the way they think and operate is standard for everyone, and don’t believe they are anything special.
CliftonStrengths does two things to help with this:
Firstly, it pinpoints your areas of talent, helps you to recognize them as unique contributions, and teaches you how to productively aim these towards your goals.
Secondly, it introduces a language that is universal across cultures, backgrounds and workplaces that can you describe yourself and what you do best to others.
Because the themes are universal, they aren’t limited to one industry or role, but can be applied anywhere.
The theme ‘Harmony,’ helps groups of people work through difficulty to find common ground, understanding and work together. Of course a natural fit for this role is in mediation, but where else could it be applied? Wouldn’t this person bring this theme to use in business meetings, to find consensus? Wouldn’t they apply it as a teacher when two kids are fighting? Or use it in their own personal relationships with friends and family?
There are so many areas you will use your talent themes, which is why it makes it difficult to assign a role to someone based on themes alone.
Create a path for success
When you know what your themes of talent are, they can help you structure a way forward.
Whether it’s pulling on a specific theme to motivate you to take the next step, or creating a strategy for how you will approach and relate to the people involved, knowing the way you operate best will help you get ahead.
For example, someone with the ‘achiever’ theme who is job-seeking might use this internal drive to get things done to make sure they search and apply for jobs each day, network, door-knock, and up-skill to increase their chances. They are productively applying their time and “getting the right things done” which will give them a sense of satisfaction and movement, using their achiever theme to work towards the ultimate goal of finding a job and helping themselves feel good along the way.
Someone with ‘WOO’ might use this ease in social situations to win over interviewers and be a likable candidate. When hiring, employers want someone they can get to know, like and trust. Using WOO can be a first step in the door.
Someone with ‘Communication’ might use this theme to overhaul their CV and online profiles to come across in the best light, use appropriate keywords and rehearse interview questions.
Someone with ‘Belief’ who is choosing a career might research roles, careers and companies that align with their core values. In interviews, they can inject this strong sense of meaning they bring to work to show employers they are committed and invested in what the company does.
Your talents will go everywhere you do, and be present in everything you do. It makes sense to make the most of who you are, what you are best at, and your natural ways of thinking and feeling. Why try and be anyone else?
If you’re looking for a boost to your career game, book a session with me to discover how you can go further personally and professionally, using your unique combination of talents.