From the Basement

April 24, 2010

Strengths, Weaknesses, & Job Hunting

Filed under: Choices,Uncategorized,Writing — jeannablue @ 7:59 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have an interview on Monday for a job I’m really excited about, and so I was surprised to find myself worrying about it in the middle of Wal-Mart’s dairy section this morning. I wasn’t worrying about the job or even the interview, per se. Rather, I found myself dreading the inevitable questions: what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?

Part of the reason for the dread is that I’ve been re-evaluating what I consider a strength and a weakness. I recently read through the latest book by Marcus Buckingham, Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently. (Before you laugh, please note that the book was a Christmas gift from my mom, who is the queen of buying business and self-help books, so to her, Marcus Buckingham is the best thing since sliced bread.) While most of the book was predictable (apparently my Strong Life Pattern is “Creator” – golly gee!), Buckingham really gave me pause for thought in how he addressed strengths and weaknesses.

Simply put, he says that a weakness is not something you’re bad at. A weakness is something that makes you feel weak.

I’m sure a lot of us have things we’re good at that we really, really loath doing. In my case, it’s organizing on a large scale (like the end-of-year carnival at school or the business fashion show or the BioBlitz for the environmental non-profit I interned with). However, for some reason, people seem to think that I want to do this. To my discredit, I usually agree to, because I don’t trust other people to do the job. (Memo to self: learn to delegate.) But the thought of doing that sort of thing on a regular basis makes me cringe inside.

Most recently, I was cringing over the fact that one of my profs (who I love dearly) seemed to think that I was tailor-made for this program assistant position that opened up at the college. I’m graduating and not going to grad school, so she thought I’d be perfect for this. “But you’re so good at!” she has insisted over and over. I caved and asked HR for a detailed list of job responsibilities. It shouldn’t have surprised me that even reading through the list made me feel sick.

Basically, the thought of doing it every day for the next year filled me with a sense of dread and terror.

That job has now (thankfully) been filled by someone else, and sometime – if it comes up – I will tell my professor, please don’t pressure me to do something that I hate doing. Thank you, Marcus Buckingham, for giving me the courage to admit that something I’m good at is actually my biggest weakness.

On the flip side, our strengths are things we may or may not be good at but that make us feel strong – that energize us, boost us, encourage us. For me, writing is one of my greatest strengths. I have to tell you, today was an awesome writing day. This morning, I got chapter three and most of chapter four written in the latest story I’m working on. And you know what? I felt so strong. So good. So productive. So on target. Filled with purpose.

What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? And how on earth do we translate those into jobs? I’m trying to figure this out – to balance what I’m willing to do with what I want to do, my dream jobs with the ones that are just so-so. All I can do is pray for honesty and direction, and that the Lord is going to put me in a place where some strength will shine through.



  1. Awesome comments on weakness, today. I’ve never thought about it that way and this was really eye-opening! Thank you!

    Comment by Aaron — April 24, 2010 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  2. That is such an interesting view on weakness. I’ve never heard it either…makes me wonder what my weaknesses actually are!

    Comment by Kirsten — April 25, 2010 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

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