By, Dr. Jay Keehn
Associate Dean of Student Success
One of the most impactful resources available to our students and alumni is a career assessment which identifies a priority listing of individuals’ strengths relevant to careers. I have asked our Career Counselor, Stefanie Macias, to provide some information regarding this valuable resource: Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, yet when asked most cannot identify what they are. Some may have an easier time letting you know their weaknesses rather than their strengths. In order to become the best version of ourselves we must increase our understanding of our own natural talents. The thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that come natural to us is the source of our true potential. This does not mean we give up on improving our weaknesses but rather put more focus on our strengths.
Research conducted by The Gallup Organization suggests that the most effective people are those who understand their strengths. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families. The Clifton StrengthFinders is an assessment tool that can help us to gain awareness of our talents and begin turning them into strengths. Strength based development is not just about identifying these strengths, but also helping people learn to apply these strengths in order to accomplish their goals. The assessment itself is organized into 177 sets of paired statements pulling together important clues to the ways in which you most naturally think, feel, and behave as a unique individual. The test takes about 30 minutes to complete and you are given a 20 second time limit to answer each question. The time limit is given because your first intuitive answer is usually the most useful for the test. Your test results are calculated instantaneously and you are given your 5 strengths in order. Additionally, you are given 3 reports: 1) Your Signature Themes, 2) Strengths Insight Report, 3) Strengths Insight and Action-Planning Guide.
There are 34 signature themes available as results within the StrengthFinders Assessment. The odds that someone else will have the same 5 themes in the same order are one in 33 million. With that said, your personal five strengths are almost as unique as your very own fingerprint. The results should be used primarily in a developmental context, as a starting point for self-discovery. More than 8 million people in more than 50 countries have taken StrengthFinders and it is available in 20 different languages. Many work places and education institutions have incorporated StrengthFinders as a way for individuals to tap into their natural strengths, gain personal growth, and perform better.
As a career counselor, the StrenghthFinders assessment has been a useful tool in helping students discover what they do well, building self-esteem, and career planning. One of the most important phases of career planning is understanding who you are and what your interests, skills, strengths, and values are. Without knowing these factors about one self, success and happiness are much more difficult to obtain in your career. StrengthFinders provides an opportunity to this road of self-discovery. My role as the career counselor is to help students gain awareness and appreciation of his or her talents and helping them to invest in developing those talents. The results have also given students a chance to reflect on what types of job responsibilities would tie nicely with their strengths, hence giving them a clearer picture of what kind of jobs they may be interested in and what kind of majors they would like to take on. Furthermore, the results have also served as a resource for students to help answer interview questions and write resumes. The Clifton StrengthFinders assessment is available for free to all Union Institute & University students and alumni. Contact the Career Services office at 1-800-486-3116 x2170 to get started.