Go Put Your Strengths to Work

Whether you are starting out in your career, jumping back into the market after being downsized, or considering changing jobs to something better, it is essential to know what you really want. In the book Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham offers a six-week, six-step plan for mapping your road to a better career. The first step in the system is to inventory the tasks that make you feel strong—give you energy, as well as the ones that make you feel weak—zap your energy over the course of a week. The inventories of tasks are then further refined to yield strength statements and a list of tasks to stop or curtail. Buckingham points out that just because you do something well doesn’t mean that it should go to the top of your strengths list. Using his process you actually determine the items that you are both good at doing and which you have a passion for doing. It will be these passionate strengths that will make your job worth pursuing. Buckingham also acknowledges that we are not always given the liberty to choose what not to do. However, he outlines plans for transitioning away from these activities where possible.

The entire premise of the book is based on the assumption that we will produce better results, develop our professional aptitudes more quickly, and generally feel better about our situation if we focus on our strengths rather than spending all of our time trying to fix our weaknesses. The systematic method for honing personal preferences outlined in the book also takes away much of the stress and pressure normally encountered in career self-assessments. Online tools and videos are also provided through the simplystrengths.com website using a unique ID code printed inside the book cover. These videos can serve as a comfort and inspiration.


I found the book worthwhile and recommended it twice  recently to new graduates who were unsure of where they wanted to go professionally. I am hopeful that you will find the book of use as well.

This article was written by David Harwell, Ph.D., assistant director of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.


One Response to Go Put Your Strengths to Work

  1. Bill Suits says:

    During transitions and at the beginning of a new year is a great time for reading and building your own business plan for the future. David suggests a great book, which is one of three in Buckingham’s series. Clearly understanding your strengths is a key to charting your future.

    Another approach is working on your top 25 accomplishments using the PAR approach. First list the accomplishments in any rambling format. Then think about transferable skills and results other employers might want that are illustrated by your contributions. Then refine them into less than two lines for your resume. Then prioritize them for the job you are seeking.

    Closely review the list for your feelings about these contributions. Which energized you and which dragged you down? What skills do they illustrate? Who would your reference be to back up your accomplishment? Doing this exercise will help you build a more positive awareness of your strengths and what direction you future might go.

    This exercise becomes especially helpful when reviewing with your networking friend and references as you ask them for help. Notice, I said help, not jobs. Your friends really do want to help. Always be thankful for their help and mail them an updated copy of your list and resume incorporating their suggestions. Of course when looking at the next job opportunity, tuning your resume’s skill and accomplishments to the position will increase the probablity of an interview and offer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: