Identifying your strengths and weaknesses

We take a look at how you can take stock of your strong and not-so-strong skills sets. Alex Miller writes

Perhaps the best method of identifying your strengths and weaknesses is to seek the advice of others.

If possible, look to have regular catch-ups and appraisals with your managers and senior figures within your company who may be able to give you advice that you haven’t even considered yet.

In these scenarios it is important to be honest with yourself and not to be shy when talking about what you perceive as your strengths. You should also not get caught up in comparing yourself to your colleagues. They will have been hired for their particular strengths and personalities while you will have been hired for yours and – really – their skill sets bear no relation to how good you are at your role.

Development opportunities

Joss Collins, a specialist financial services recruiter at Venn Group, says: ‘I would even suggest you forget considering your weaknesses as weaknesses and instead think of them as development opportunities. It is highly unlikely that you will be cursed for life in one particular area and, with the right training and coaching, you should be able to turn these into strengths.

‘If you are considering identifying your strengths and weaknesses because you are looking to expand your skills or seek a new role, you should focus on upcoming developments in the sector.

‘After all, it is not particularly effective to build skills that are already required as these are likely to have changed by the time you become an expert. Look to build competencies that are ahead of the curve, on up and coming technology for example, and you are more likely to find that your skills will be recognised and in demand.’

Listen and learn

In order to identify key strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to engage, listen and learn. As a result, you will feel more confident and knowledgeable as an employee.

Lorraine Twist, operating director at Michael Page Finance, says: ‘Ensure you record all your achievements and mistakes as every project or task is an opportunity to learn and develop, both professionally and personally. It’s also a good idea to conduct regular catch up meetings with your senior director/manager to ask for feedback and identify areas of improvement.’

We all have strengths and weaknesses, but by effectively recognising areas in which we naturally excel, and others where we are not so strong, professionals stand the best chance of developing their own skills in order to further their careers.

Antony Mason, senior consultant at Capita Professional Recruitment, says: ‘Ensure that you clearly understand what is expected of you and how you can deliver it. Clear lines of communication upwards are important. It is important to have a structured approach to your own career, agreeing SMART objectives, which, if achieved, lead to planned outcomes such as promotion or a salary increase.’


Another way to identify your strengths or weaknesses is to review your appraisal documents, as these could contain praise for your strengths and areas for improvement too.

Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, adds: ‘It is important to take time to think this through with a SWOT analysis in order to identify what you perceive as your strengths and weaknesses.

‘Your greatest strengths may be attributes that you take for granted or features of your technical skills or personality that you are not even aware of.’

"Ensure you record all your achievements and mistakes as every project or task is an opportunity to learn and develop, both professionally and personally"

Lorraine Twist - Michael Page Finance