I have had the privilege of mentoring hundreds of people over the years.  I always ask them two questions:  What do you like to do?  What are your strengths?  Most have a good idea of what they like to do, but you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t understand their own strengths.

One of the secrets of success is making the most of your strengths.  First, though, you have to determine what your strengths are – and that may not be obvious, especially if you’re just starting out or looking to make a career change.

Your strengths develop from a variety of sources:  natural ability and aptitude, formal education, job experience, internships, research, hobbies, volunteer involvement, and so on.  You may not realize the depth of your knowledge or expertise, and that can seriously limit your job search or career path.

If you are in college, by all means take advantage of some of the aptitude and career placement tests to determine your strengths, weaknesses and hidden talents.  If you are not in school, you can find tests online or at your local library.  Industrial psychologists are also most helpful in identifying areas that you should consider pursuing – or avoiding.

A recent article in Classroom to Cubicle, an online magazine for college students and recent graduates, cites a list of the 10 most sought-after skills assembled by Quintessential Careers:

  1. Communication Skills (listening, verbal, and written)
  2. Analytical Skills/Research Skills
  3. Computer/Technical Literacy
  4. Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities
  5. Interpersonal Abilities
  6. Leadership/Management Skills
  7. Teamwork
  8. Planning/Organizing
  9. Problem Solving
  10. Multicultural Awareness

And you thought that all that mattered was your college major or your last job!

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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