You can find Damian online at www.dgz-coaching.comAnd on LinkedIn: Damian Zikakis.  Damian joins me via skype from Michigan where he runs DGZ Coaching. Damian shares the background of CliftonStrengths (which used to be called StrengthFinder). The CliftonStrengths assessment uncovers your unique rank order of 34 CliftonStrengths talent themes. Your themes are your talent DNA. They explain the ways you most naturally think, feel and behave. Gallup’s research shows that people who know and use their CliftonStrengths are:   – more engaged at work   – more productive in their roles   – happier and healthierMany colleges and universities have all incoming freshmen take the assessment and provide coaching to help them understand their results. They have found this increases student retention and graduation rates. More and more organizations are using CliftonStrengths with their employees, too, however, it is typically not part of the hiring process. As of last week, over 22 and a half million people have taken the assessment. Step 1 – Complete the CliftonStrengths assessment and read the Insights Report provided by Gallup. There are many resources provided by Gallup including podcasts, videos, blog posts, and books. Additionally, you can hire a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach to help you understand your results. Gallup researchers identified 34 themes of talent and it is helpful to focus on your dominant ones – particularly your Top 5. A cool thing to realize is you aren’t one in a million; you are one in 33 million. Those are the odds of someone else having the same top 5 as you in the same order. Crazy huh?Coaches like me refer to this step as learning to Name your Strengths.  Katie: my top 5 strengths are Relator, Achiever, Learner, Harmony, Futuristic. I have to admit when I first took this assessment a few years ago and got my results, my first reaction was “No, that’s not me. They got me all wrong.” But the more I learned about it the more I came to see that these strengths describe me quite well.  Step 2Claiming your Strengths. What I mean by that is thinking about the things you do in your work that come from your Top 5 Strengths. For example, my number 2 Strength is Learner which means I enjoy the process of learning. I approach work and non-work activities with excitement about the process of learning more about whatever the subject might be. I can’t help it. It is just one of my natural ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. In fact, that is the definition of a Talent – a natural, recurring way of thinking, feeling or behaving. Our Strengths don’t tell us what we do (or what we should do) but rather how we do it. Katie: I love that step 2 is claiming your strengths because I find that women, in particular, aren’t always comfortable talking about their strengths. But this is so important in a job search. If we can’t tell people what we’re good at, then who will? Just saying something that starts with “I am good at…” or “This is a real strength of mine” can be hard for people. Having the data from an assessment like CliftonStrengths can add to your confidence when you say things like that. So you’re not just tooting your own horn, you’re sharing evidence-backed assessment results! Q: Can the CliftonStrengths help me identify a weakness I may have and give me some language to talk about that when I’m asked about my weakness in an interview? A: Absolutely, however, I like to think of them as lesser talents. And this brings up a good point, we can make greater strides in our self-development when we focus our resources on developing our stronger talents into strengths as compared to focusing on fixing weaknesses or trying to develop lesser talents. Let me give you an example that is relevant to the third step. The subject is networking and there is a talent that is great to have if you need to network as part of your job. The talent is WOO which stands for winning others over. For me, WOO is in the middle of the pack. I can network with strangers but it takes energy from me rather than providing energy. So rather than trying to fix that I developed an alternate approach.  Step 3 – and this is where I get the most excited – is Aiming your Strengths. What I mean by that is thinking about the key aspects of a job and how your Strengths allow you to do those things in a particularly effective way that is unique to you. Then decide how to share that with the hiring manager or recruiter. You can highlight them in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile as well as during networking and interviews. Your Strengths are like your superpowers. Once you learn to harness and focus them, you can do even greater things. And the ability to describe your Strengths and how you capitalize on them, both individually and as part of a team, will set you apart from other candidates.  Wrap-up & Recap:

  1. Take the CliftonStrengths assessment and read the Insights Report provided by Gallup. 
  2. Claim Your Strengths
  3. Aim Your Strengths

 You can access the assessment at https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/strengthsfinder.aspx.You can connect with Damian at damian@dgzcoaching.com. His web address is dgzcoaching.com.Damian is also available for keynote speaking engagements and he trains groups on CliftonStrengths. 
Thanks for listening to this episode of “Get A Job…Here’s How!” Now that you know how to talk about your strengths in your job search, go do it! I believe in you.

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