What are you great at?

What are you great at?

I asked it dozens of times over the last four months to prospective job candidates. Not a typical interview question, yes. Still, I was surprised that I received only one thoughful answer. Most candidates were stumped and recited phrases from the job description; verbatim. Others told me what they thought I wanted to hear. A few, had no idea.

The struggling economy is creating fewer quality jobs; that is a fact. So, the job market is hyper-competitive for choice positions. I had a great one to fill and I figured I would be able to get top talent. I eventually hired what looks to be a tremendous person. Time will tell. Still, this is not about him. It is about the nameless herd who wanted my new job, but could not get passed “go.”

We want to like our jobs. We want to be fullfilled with our work in the world. Yet, all too often, we hate it. We find ourselves running away from a _______________ (insert job, company, relationship etc.) instead of moving towards one. In the sprint, we do not stop and think where we are going; we just want to get away from the present or past as fast as possible. So we hit “repeat” and end up back where we started. Once the excitement and “new car smell” of the position goes away, the emptiness creeps back in; we get bored, stagnant, unhappy and feel lost.

Why? …because we seek our work to provide fulfillment or happiness that it is incapable of delivering.

Now, if you think being great is about following your “passion.” You are wrong. Self-help career books, blogs and other online peddlers of “tips and tricks” for getting what you want are full of bullsh*t. The truth; only a lucky few pursue their passion AND make a good living at it. The reality is that doing what we love is not the goal. Doing what we are great at is what we all should aspire to achieve. The old adage about catering to your strengths holds true.

Your work in the world should be about the value you bring and how you can make an immediate and positive impact. Nothing else matters. We are all great at something. The question is can you make a living doing it? There is no wrong answer. If you can, wonderful. If you can’t, no worries. It does not matter. You are not your job and it is not you. Recruiters and hiring managers know that. They want to know what you are great at. Candidates who can clearly tell and show them what they are great at…and more importantlt how that relates to the job, get it.

When do you know you are great at something in work?

When it becomes automatic for you; it is that thing you do that comes easy. The speed of the game slows and you see the whole field right in front of you. You are “wired that way” and you cannot help yourself. It skews your perspective because you can do it, see it, fix it, change it, play it etc. with ease while others around you struggle to get the basics. If you can figure that “thing” out, everything else will be easy.

What if you are great at something that you cannot make a living at?

Then it may be your passion instead and is that something that keeps you sane, happy and “charges your batteries.” Your work in the world becomes secondary to your passion or greatness. Plenty of people pursue their passion while working a day-job to pay the bills. Either way, knowing what you are great at makes you stand out from the crowd; you are taller, stronger and more confident.

So, what does this have to do with getting a job? Easy. Figure out what you are great at and draw upon it for your work in the world. If you are great at relationship building or helping others, pursue roles that leverage your strengths. The probability of you being great in those jobs is high and your professional satisfaction will be higher. More importantly, once you figure it out, you can network and show others and link it to the job you want. If you can see why the position you want needs someone like you and are able to communicate that, you will tower above all the others wanting the same role.

So, what are you great at?

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