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  • Writer's pictureFernanda Latorre

Why is it so difficult to identify our Strengths and Weaknesses?

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

It can be challenging for individuals to identify their strengths and weaknesses when searching for a job.

What are the psychological factors that contribute?

1. Self-awareness:

An obvious one. Lack of it implies an unclear understanding of their abilities, skills, and personality traits. Without a solid foundation of self-awareness, individuals may struggle to evaluate their suitability for specific job roles accurately.

2. Bias and perception:

People often have biases and cognitive distortions that affect their perceptions. For example, they may overestimate their abilities in specific areas or underestimate their skills in others. This can lead to an inaccurate self-assessment, making identifying genuine strengths and weaknesses challenging.

3. Social comparison:

A natural tendency among fellow humans. When job searching, individuals may compare their abilities to those of their peers or role models, which can distort their perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses.

4. Emotional factors:

The job search process can be emotionally challenging, and individuals may experience self-doubt, anxiety, and fear of rejection. These emotions can cloud judgment and make it challenging to evaluate strengths and weaknesses objectively. Negative emotions may lead to underestimating strengths or overemphasising weaknesses, further complicating the process.

5. Complexity of skills:

Jobs nowadays often require a combination of various skills and competencies. Identifying and articulating these skills can be significantly challenging when they overlap or are unclear. It may be difficult for individuals to recognise their unique strengths in a crowded job market and to communicate them effectively to potential employers.

6. Limited exposure and experience:

Sometimes, individuals may have limited exposure to different job roles or industries, making it difficult to identify their strengths and weaknesses in specific positions. Without firsthand experience, it can be challenging to gauge how well their skills and abilities align with the demands of a particular job.

7. Cultural and societal influences:

Cultural and societal norms can shape individuals' perceptions of strengths and weaknesses. Certain cultures may emphasise specific skills or qualities as strengths while downplaying others. Societal expectations and stereotypes can also influence individuals' self-perception, making recognising their strengths and weaknesses harder.

8. Fear of judgment and failure:

The fear of being judged by others or of failure can hinder individuals from fully acknowledging their strengths. They may downplay their accomplishments or hesitate to recognise their abilities due to a lack of confidence. This fear can also make it difficult for individuals to confront and address their weaknesses.

9. Shifting job market and evolving skills:

The job market is constantly changing, with new and existing industries evolving. This dynamic environment requires individuals to adapt and acquire new skills. Identifying strengths and weaknesses becomes more challenging when individuals must assess their relevance and competitiveness in a rapidly changing job market.

10. Overemphasis on weaknesses:

Some individuals focus primarily on their shortcomings rather than their strengths. While it is essential to address areas for improvement, fixating solely on weaknesses can undermine confidence and hinder the recognition of valuable skills and abilities. Balancing a realistic assessment of weaknesses with recognising strengths is crucial for a comprehensive self-evaluation.

11. Lack of self-confidence:

Low self-confidence can hinder individuals from accurately recognising their strengths and abilities. They may underestimate their potential or dismiss their achievements, leading to a skewed self-perception. Building self-confidence through self-reflection, gathering positive feedback, and challenging self-limiting beliefs can help individuals assess their strengths more accurately.

What can you do to overcome any of the above?

The following approaches -or assessment sources- can help individuals better understand their strengths and weaknesses, leading to more informed job searches and career choices. Let's dig in on each one of them:

1. Self-reflection:

Take time for self-reflection to better understand your skills, abilities, and experiences. Identify situations where you have excelled and achieved success and areas where you have faced challenges or received feedback for improvement. This reflective process can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses more accurately.

2. Seek feedback from others:

Seek feedback from trusted sources such as mentors, supervisors, colleagues, or friends. Ask them to provide honest assessments of your strengths and weaknesses. Their perspectives can offer valuable insights that you may not have considered on your own. Be open to constructive criticism and use it as an opportunity for growth. Remember that these are opinions only, so consider them, but do not draft conclusions without considering other assessment sources.

3. Self-assessment tools:

Take advantage of self-assessment and personality assessments to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. These tools provide structured frameworks and questionnaires that can prompt self-reflection and insights into your abilities and preferences.

4. Focus on achievements and accomplishments:

Take your academic, work, and LIFE experience and acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments and successes for each event. Please keep a record of your achievements, whether they are academic, professional, or personal. Reflecting on past successes can help you recognise your strengths and build self-confidence. It serves as a reminder of your capabilities and what you can bring to future job opportunities.

5. Embrace a growth mindset and actively seek opportunities:

Adopt a growth mindset, which emphasises that abilities and skills can be developed through effort and dedication. Understand that weaknesses are not permanent limitations but areas where you have the potential to grow and improve. By viewing weaknesses as opportunities for growth, you can approach them with a more positive and proactive mindset. Actively pursue opportunities to develop and improve your skills in areas you consider weaknesses. Take courses, attend workshops, or engage in activities that allow you to gain knowledge and practice in those areas. Investing in your growth can enhance your strengths while addressing weaknesses proactively.

6. Practice self-compassion:

Be kind to yourself throughout the process. Self-compassion is usually underestimated; you can sabotage yourself without practice. Recognise that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it is natural to have areas for improvement. Avoid harsh self-judgment and negative self-talk. Instead, cultivate self-compassion, treating yourself with understanding, patience, and encouragement. This mindset creates a supportive environment for self-reflection and growth.

Visit our website, which has many free resources and interesting readings that will help you and provide you with tools for your job hunting.

You Got This!

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