You’ve got a sparkling resume, a well-written cover letter, and enough interviewing practice that you feel like you could answer virtually anything that’s thrown your way. So, why aren’t employers interested in what you have you offer? Are you just not qualified enough? Are you not destined for your dream job?

The problem may not have anything to do with your qualifications or abilities; it’s likely that you’re trying to sell the wrong skills. The good news, though? There’s an easy fix.

Management consultant Jim Schreier recently wrote a great piece for Careerealism about the difference between highlighting skills versus showcasing strengths.

The problem many job seekers have is that they want to prove how qualified they are by showing off the numerous skills they have—which might not necessarily be their strengths, or even the tasks they enjoy doing the most. In turn, employers don’t get a full picture of how a particular candidate can go above and beyond a simple job description.

For example, you could have a knack for organizing data quickly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to do that day-in, day-out as your job. Instead, Schreier notes, we all want work that’ll make us feel empowered, like we’re constantly putting our best feet forward. Thus, when you write a cover letter or walk into an interview, you need to be sure to express what your strengths are, rather just naming your skills.

Why? Because you’re most likely looking for the opportunity to show off those strengths, not a place to complete tasks eight hours a day. Makes sense, right?

So, how can you make sure you’re talking about your strengths in a way that’s attractive to potential employers? Schreier recommends completing the sentence: “I feel strong when…”

Here’s what it looks like in action:

  • “I feel strong when I’m delegating tasks efficiently to my team, and we’re getting a project completed together.”
  • “I feel strong when I’m pitching a product that I’m passionate about to potential clients who would benefit greatly from it.”
  • “I feel strong when I’m writing exciting copy that I know will engage audiences and grow a devoted following.”

By giving specifics to potential employers of when you feel best, you allow them to give you an opportunity to do what you love—instead of simply giving you a checklist to complete every day. And who doesn’t get excited when other people are excited?


Photo of light bulbs courtesy of Shutterstock.