Remember, strengths are not the same as things you like to do. I like to sing karaoke. I’ll let my friend Randy’s face clue you in to whether or not it is a strength of mine.

It doesn’t always happen that you love doing the things you’re good at doing, but if you’re currently floundering a bit when it comes to choosing a career path, doing a strength inventory can be helpful. Grab a pen and paper or open up a new document on your computer right now - let’s do this!

  1. When you were a child, what were your best subjects in school? List the subjects where you got As and Bs in elementary school, junior high, and high school.
  2. What hobbies do you enjoy in your free time? Specifically, what are you good at doing when it comes to these hobbies? (For example, if you collect action figures, are you good at haggling with dealers? Are you good at finding figures you want online? Are you good at organizing your collection?)
  3. What do people ask you for help doing? Does your co-worker ask you for your pie recipe? Does your cousin constantly ask you for car advice? Does your mom like to shop with you because you give great fashion advice?
  4. What types of books and articles to you read most often? (i.e., what subjects matters have you researched, even amateurishly)
  5. What did you study in college, if you attended? In what courses unrelated to your major did you excel?

Take a look at your list. Are you seeing any patterns emerging? For example, maybe you used to get all As in math, people commonly ask for help with organization, and you liked taking philosophy classes in college, even though you were an accounting major. Those things all seem to point toward the fact that you’re good at problem-solving.

Or another example - maybe you’re extremely detail-orientated when it comes to building models, you enjoy reading about classic art, and your favorite college courses as a computer sciences major were those including design elements. Those things all seem to point toward the fact that you’re good at things related to graphics.

If you’re list doesn’t have a clear theme - don’t worry. Over the next several days or even weeks you can add to your list as you think of things that belong on it. Doing a strength inventory can point you in directions that you wouldn’t normally go. Type some of your strengths into the keyword search functions of job sites just to see what comes up. It’s a great way to expand your search and find jobs that you’d be awesome at doing!

Like what you read here? Stay connected with the After Graduation community and receive a free copy of Career Oomph!, a weekly newsletter to help you stay motivated to find that perfect job:

  1. Judy Helfand (Reply) on Saturday 4, 2010

    Hi Alli,
    This is really helpful advice. Taking inventory also helps you know what you are running low on…like in any business or any household or relationship.

    BTW…did you mean to misspell “strength” in your title?


    • Allison (Reply) on Saturday 4, 2010

      Thanks for stopping by, Judy! I fixed the misspelling. :)

  2. Judy Helfand (Reply) on Saturday 4, 2010

    Sorry…I should have tweeted my question or maybe emailed it. Here’s the thing: so often people will put odd words in a title to grab other’s attention. You know what I mean? On the other hand, sometimes we get so driven by the blog topic our eyes play tricks on us.

    Anyway, I wanted you to know that taking inventory is critical so that we know where we have been and where we are going.


              General Career
              Job Hunting
              Tips and Tricks
              Site News

    Escaping the 9 to 5 Maren Kate's site is all about leaving the rat race to own your own business. She talks a lot about gaining freedom from the traditional work atmosphere and using virtual workers to achieve your entrepreneurship goals.

    Kommein An important part of job-hunting in most industries is social networking. Deb Ng's site is my favorite resource for learning more about using Twitter, Facebook, and other sites for more than telling people what you had for lunch and sharing party pictures.

    JobMonkey If you're at a loss when it comes to knowing what you want to do in life, JobMonkey is a great site to learn about career options. Their guides cover everything from truck driving to banking. They also have info about the training you'll need to work in these fields.

    Brass Tack Thinking At Brass Tack Thinking, Amber and Tamsen walk you through the process of making things happen, from developing your personal philosophy and brainstorming ideas to implementing those ideas to see real results in your life.

    Lifebeat Lifebeat is a weekly podcast from Nathan Hangen with music by Oleg Mokhov. Every Tuesday, you can listen to some energizing music along with motivational conversation and debate/discussion about concepts applicable to entrepreneurs and employees alike.

    You can find reviews I've done in the past at the following places; I'm always interested in doing more, so if you have something you'd like me to review, feel free to contact me.

    Higher Education This book by by Kenneth Jedding is about the feeling of failure you might feel as you're struggling to find the right path after graduation.

    Billing Boss If you're a freelancer or entrepreneur, Billing Boss is a tool you can consider to meet your invoicing needs. There are both pros and cons to the Billing Boss system.

    How to Write a German CV This ebook is specific to those job-hunting in Germany, but gives you a lot to consider for the non-US job application process in general.

    As you may know, I'm also involved in BlogWorld Expo, which is held annually. I've done some travel-related reviews which you can see here:
              -Border Grill