Why I like CliftonStrengths (StrengthsFinder) for Career Decisions

So much of my work as a career coach is asking good questions and encouraging reflection. I believe you have what you need inside you but sometimes you need some help getting it out into the world. One way to do this is to use an assessment as a tool to give you language for what’s going on inside. One of my all time favorites is CliftonStrengths and I’ll share my reasons why here.

I like good questions.

This assessment, CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) comes out of the question

“What would happen if we studied what was right with people versus what’s wrong with people?”

~ Don Clifton, “Father of Strengths-Based Psychology

This positive approach to defining success helps me own my uniqueness and encourage others to own theirs. There is enough measures in the world that come out of a deficit way of thinking – improve this or fix that and you’ll find success (lose weight or buy this).

My strengths fit for me

My top 5 are: Connectedness | WOO | Individualization | Positivity | Communication

I have only taken the top 5 and not all 34 which they now suggest. I believe the roots of this assessment encourage exploration in just the top 5 and really own them before exploring further. Perhaps my top 10 would be helpful, but I am still finding ways to leverage my top 5 so until then…

I regularly call upon my top 5 when making decisions around my own career. Perhaps you can see the value of a career coach having connectedness – I help people find the patterns in their own stories and see the connections intuitively. I also teach about networking and am helping others find each other as often as I can. As a career counselor, I feed the individualization strength when I get to be one-on-one with others and respect each person’s story as their own. I have never liked the tendency to say “oh here’s another nursing major” so I do X, Y, Z.

I’m literally a fan of my own strengths. This is my laptop currently.

I got these here

CliftonStrengths gives light bulb moments

The stats around this assessment are encouraging for anyone who avoids tests that “put them in a box.” I think this assessment frees you from any box and allows you to be more of yourself. Don Clifton began his research by studying successful people and noticing what they had in common. After decades of research the 34 themes emerged and I always share 2 stats that reflect just how unique we are as humans.

The likelihood of you having the same top 5 as someone else is roughly one in 275,000. 

If you wanted to find someone with the same top five themes in the same order as you, the odds are one in 33.4 million.

So regularly as I share this assessment with others, there are lightbulb moments. People see themselves in the descriptions of themes and it helps them explain “oh that’s why I do what I do.” It also helps them realize that things which come easily to them might not be so easy for others and that is part of their value they can bring in any job or career path.

This is a well researched assessment

The folks at Gallup say “Your CliftonStrengths themes are your talent DNA. They explain the ways you most naturally think, feel and behave. Their research shows that people who know and use their CliftonStrengths are:

  • more engaged at work
  • more productive in their roles
  • happier and healthier”

With over 23 million people having taken the CliftonStrengths assessment – they have quite the sample size analyze for reliability and validity scores. The CliftonStrengths has been found congruent with the Big 5 Personality Factors as well as the 16 Personality Factor.

You too can nerd out on stats by checking out the Technical Report.

CliftonStrengths gives language to share in a job search.

Once a client claims their uniqueness via Strengths, they have an arsenal to use in their job search materials.

It becomes easier to read a job posting with discernment.

You’re able to create a filter with which to view opportunities and companies. For example, I would look for job postings that include a priority on presentations because I can utilize my WOO (winning others over), communication and positivity as I educate and speak.

It gets you out of writer’s block.

You need a cover letter? Consider each of your strengths and how they developed, how they’ve been used in previous jobs and how they relate to parts of a job posting – all this can frame your cover letter content and get you moving toward a good draft. It doesn’t always make sense to use the actual theme (like self-assurance or command) but providing concrete examples for why you are the way you are and how this relates to their future employee makes an excellent case in an cover letter.

It helps answer “tell me about yourself.”

In an interview the first question posed by most interviewers is some iteration of the above. You can fall back to your strengths when addressing this question. By the way, you should practice this response ahead of time and decide what you want to emphasize in an interview about yourself. Nobody else is in that room advocating for you. If you don’t say it, it won’t be said. Often explaining something in light of your strengths can ground you and avoid sounding boastful.

It can enhance your personal brand.

Your brand is what people associate with you. If your CliftonStrengths results resonate with you, they can be a way for others to understand you more quickly. Case in point: I put my top 5 in my email signature and in my LinkedIn about section. This way, before I’m ever applying to something, I’ve given a new contact an idea of what they might get when they meet me.

So as you can see, I’m a true believer when it comes to CliftonStrengths. Have you taken it? How many do we have in common? Shoot me an email and let me know.

If you haven’t taken it and I got your attention, here’s all the books that come with a code. Note: I’m not an affiliate or a certified Gallup coach. I am however, very familiar with the assessment, available to provide one-on-one and group workshops about it. If this is of interest, contact me.

This assessment is part of the conversation I have with my clients around meaningful work. It’s important to understand yourself and how you work best so you can make confident career decisions. Need help? Check out my FREE guide to defining your meaningful work.

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