Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

The Secret to Loving Your Next Job: Play to Your Strengths

people in a meeting
Rob Lewine/Getty Images

You’ve been in your sales position for a few years now, and are eager to take on more responsibilities, earn more money and advance your career. You’re great at organizing your pipeline and you never fail to follow up on a lead. You even have great idea about how your company can source new clients.

But, if you are being honest with yourself, you hate the rejection that comes with sales. You know that your job consists of getting told ‘no’ many times a day, but you can’t quite get over the feeling ‘no’ has on your productivity and overall well-being.

So you feel stuck.

Many a manager would tell you to focus on overcoming your fear of rejection- take a class, read a book or just work harder at it. The problem is that even if any of those techniques did work, you might still find yourself unhappy at your job and unable to get to the next level.

On the other hand, if your manager were using a strengths-based approach, she might suggest you for a role in sales ops, where you can flourish without the fear.

That approach, it turns out, can lead to a big increase in engagement. Gallup recently asked a range of employees what’s important to them when deciding whether to take a new job. The single most important factor? A desire to utilize their strengths at work, which even beat out increased income and job stability.

Think about it like this: taking another sales gig might be the easiest route to a new job, but how far would you go in that role? Probably not very far. But if you found a new job where you could be your best self and bring all your top talents to the table, you’d have a lot more room to grow and develop as a professional—and a much better chance to rise through the ranks. A role where you can use your strengths isn’t just a “nice to have.” It is a necessary investment in your future.

When you’re looking for a bigger and better job, take some time to hone in on your strengths. This will not only help you find another job—it’ll help you find your calling.

Understanding Your Strengths

Obviously, before you can make the most of your strengths, you have to identify them.

When we talk about “strengths,” we’re not only talking about specific skills, like how to write a contract or read a profit and loss report. Those skills and knowledge matter, but even more important is understanding your natural hardwiring and inherent talents, such as adaptability, empathy or responsibility.

Not sure what yours are? You’re not alone—often, our strengths come so naturally to us, we don’t easily recognize them—so Gallup offers a great online tool to help you identify what makes you unique.

Once you’re aware your strengths, take a step back and think long and hard about your career. Before deciding where to send your resume, ask yourself: “Will I be able to do what I do best?” If the answer is no, think very carefully before applying. Even if a role offers advancement or a higher salary, the key to long-term fulfillment is finding the ideal fit with your strengths.

We are at our best when we use our natural gifts rather than trying to overcome weakness-- the success you are after is more likely when you embrace who you are and apply it to what you do.

Figured out your strengths? Now go check out open jobs at Gallup!

Real Talk About Weakness

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can completely ignore the areas in which you’re not as strong. But rather than focusing on trying to improve in those areas, instead switch to managing them.
Start with these two strategies:

  • Find a Strategic Partner: A weakness for you is likely to be a strength for someone else. So why not join forces? Just remember: The best strategic partnerships go both ways, so be sure to give as much as you get.
  • Create Systems. When it comes to the areas you know you struggle with, simple systems can help you succeed. Being “responsible” isn’t one of my strengths, which means I’m prone to forgetting about deadlines and having to scramble at the last minute to get things done. To manage this weakness, I keep a ton of reminders in my life—email reminders, calendar reminders, alarms on my phone, sticky notes, and more. That way, I’m less likely to miss something important. You might be surprised how often a simple note or prompt helps me accomplish my goals.

Do What You Do Best

Acknowledge your weaknesses, learn to manage them, and on your next job search evaluate the role through a new lens: Does the job play to your strengths? Does the company recognize and celebrate strengths-based growth? If both of those boxes are checked, you’re on the path to becoming a happier, more productive and fulfilled employee and person.