Harnessing your superpowers
When we think about career direction or start applying for new roles, we tend to spend time researching dream companies and jobs or checking out LinkedIn influencers in the space. Too often, we fall down by not turning that curiosity inwards and getting to know our unique skills and traits so that we can genuinely articulate who we are as a professional. There’s a deep confidence that comes with really owning who you are, and it can transform skills into superpowers. Not having a clear picture of our superpowers can often lead to wrong turns in our career journey, and even taking on roles that are ultimately a bad fit.
While not gospel, personality tests have provided me with a great framework to understand my behaviors, articulate my skills and be mindful of how I interact with others. I asked Millie Douglas, Senior Careers Consultant at Victoria University of Wellington, for her thoughts on their value in our professional lives;
“Personality test reports can provide an objective and authoritative lens, through which to gain insights into what makes you tick (and what doesn’t) and how this has been reflected in your work, and life. A result can give you the encouragement to begin understanding and celebrating your best and most authentic self and as a result, make you a better employee and work colleague. Employers value self-awareness and the capacity to understand, explain and be accountable for thinking and action.”
Felicia Day, author of Embrace Your Weird, called knowing yourself ‘life’s eternal homework” Never was a truer word spoken! I promise this homework can be fun, and I want to give you some starting points to begin exploring. The journey is never over, so add your own discoveries into the mix (and share them in the comments)!
Myers-Briggs Personality Type – what’s your personality DNA?
The O.G. Your Myers- Briggs personality type is a great starting point to get to know yourself. It seeks to help you understand four essential traits:
- Whether you are outwardly or inwardly focused (Introversion or Extroversion)
- How you take in information (Sensing or Intuition)
- How you make decisions (Thinking or Feeling)
- How you like to live your outer life (Judging or Perceiving)
As well as holding a mirror up to yourself, this framework can help you understand how others behave and communicate. 16 personalities offer a free test based on Myers-Briggs and also have a great community of online content. You can pay $29 for a ‘premium profile’ that goes into more depth, the sections on work allow you to dig into how you can collaborate with each type. A shorter (and less accurate) free version is BuzzQuiz. While not as precise as the 16 personalities test it is quick and easy, making it great for team activities or working with young people.
Clifton Strengths – what makes you unique?
Clifton Strengths help you identify your unique talent by pinpointing your top five strengths in order. You take a 30-minute online assessment aimed at teasing your strengths out of your natural patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. I like that this method focuses on what we are naturally best at. Strengths come from four categories; strategic thinking, relationship building, influencing and executing – and your unique combination is described as your ‘talent DNA.’
Four Tendencies – what motivates you?
Created by happiness guru Gretchen Rubin, the four tendencies quiz aims to answer the question “How do I respond to expectations.” In essence, this framework is about what motivates us and why. It digs into whether internal or external forces spur us into action, and explains why we find some tasks impossible to complete. The four tendencies are:
- Upholders – those who want to know what should be done
- Questioners – those who want justifications
- Obligers – those who need accountability
- Rebels – those who want freedom to do things their own way.
You can take the Four Tendencies Quiz here for free, and Gretchen also has a book on the subject that digs into how you can better collaborate with others and motivate yourself to tackle tricky tasks (and people).
Apply your discoveries to job hunting and career
There are so many ways these self-discoveries can boost your career, here are just a few tips from me to get you started:
- Add your Myers-Briggs personality type and top five Clifton Strengths to your CV and LinkedIn, a great way to show self-awareness and self-select out of roles that aren’t a fit.
- Use the ‘weaknesses’ section of your 16 personalities profile to prepare for that inevitable ‘what are your weaknesses’ question in an interview – or if they are wise recruiters, the ‘what are your strengths’ question you’ll be armed with the right knowledge
- When looking at a job description, compare your Clifton Strengths to the skills they are looking for and reflect on the tasks you’d be doing day to day.
- Reflect on your four tendencies type and consider what type of team environment might suit you. Do you need a lot of freedom? Accountability to others? What kind of management style would motivate you? Seek the answers to these in the interview.
- If your current team hasn’t already done it – take the tests and share your results. I guarantee you will have more empathy for each other and collaborate more harmoniously.
As Gretchen Rubin would say – onwards!
Rhiannon Robinson is an ENFJ personality type, an Obliger and her top Clifton Strength is Developer