Advancing Through Strengths

One question which is common in coaching sessions with team members looking to progress within the company is whether StrengthsFinder can help them select their ideal profession.  While your top 5 strengths will not identify whether you should be a Marketing Coordinator or a Financial Analyst, they do provide you with filters to help you identify if the next role you are considering will be a good fit.   

Here are a few steps you might consider to advance your career using strengths;  

Step One:  Claim your Strengths  
Naming - or knowing - your top 5 is easy.  "Claiming" your strengths is something different.  To claim your strengths is to know the value they bring to your company, your customers and to your own well-being.  One way to do this is to review your Strengths Insight Report in the Gallup Strengths Center (  This report is written knowing your entire roster of strengths (all 34).  Highlight sentences in each paragraph which resonate with you.  Think about recent occurrences when you demonstrated these strengths and catch yourself in the moment (this week) using them to add value in your job .  
Step Two: Consider Your Options 
Let me start by reminding you that the best candidates for upward mobility within any company are those who are delivering above average performance in their current position.  Instead of obsessing about career growth, you should find ways to increase your passion and add tangible value in your current job.  Option one is to stay put and continue to "craft" your current job around your strengths.  Some of the most fulfilling career advancement springs from people who have applied their strengths to their existing role and achieved excellence (and happiness) at the intersection of passion and productivity.  Your mastery and exceptional performance will lead to promotional opportunities within your home department.  If you have exhausted job-crafting or advancement has stalled, you should seek the advise of others within your organization whose career progression has been broader than yours. These people will know the core responsibilities of many jobs within the organization and will have familiarity with departmental "sub-cultures" as well.  Share the best of you with them (what you do best) and ask their opinion as to where you might add value.  If your Human Resources department offers career planning services, take advantage of it.  

Step Three: Narrow Your Focus
When speaking with others within your company about different roles and departments, try to identify the natural next step for you based upon your current position.  As an example, for many of the entry-level hourly positions within my organization, the next clear professional step is to become a Coordinator within a field in which the individual's talents, skills and knowledge would be best suited.  In some cases, you might consider a lateral move in order to get into a position or place which will be the best fit for your strengths.  Once you have narrowed down the most likely title of your next job, see if your organization would allow you to shadow these positions or at least speak with current job occupants.  Find out about their career journey and detail what qualifications are necessary for that responsibility.  If possible, schedule a brief meeting with a potential hiring manager from the desired area and express your interest in a future role while determining if the position is a right-fit for your strengths.  Note, you typically must be performing at a high level for leaders to recommend you for an internal promotion or job shadow.  Optimize your contributions in your current job by leveraging your strengths. Most people who are promoted from within have gained a positive reputation by becoming the expert "go-to" in their role and are naturally ready to expand their horizons.  

Step Four:  Make a Plan 
Once you have narrowed your focus on the types of roles which would be the best fit for you, work on a plan.  Through your research on ideal internal positions, list any qualifications which you might be lacking or which you need to strengthen.  Work with your current leadership to identify ways to become involved in special projects to gain required experience and enroll in educational courses to build your knowledge base.  Print out the current internal job postings with your targeted title and compare your talents, knowledge and skills to what the position requires.  Think about how you might apply your StrengthsFinder Talent Themes to each of the listed responsibilities.  If you do not have a natural yearning to invest in these new skills or if you don't think you will enjoy the process of learning them, it is a sign that the path you are considering may not be the best fit.  Be realistic and set a goal (timing) as to how long it might take for you to acquire the required experience before you begin applying.  

Step Five: Go For It!
You have a full understanding of your unique strengths and your next likely internal position.  You have determined that you have the talents, skills and knowledge required to land that job.  You have spoken to your leader and earned their advocacy based upon your current job performance.  You have found an internal job posting that appears to be a great match based upon your potential to apply your unique strengths in the role. You've done some advance research on the position and department and you know it is a great fit.  You should follow the process for applying for the position and ask that your leadership be your champion.  I suggest you list your Top 5 Talent Themes on your resume with one sentence descriptors that relate to the job your are aspiring towards.  If you are fortunate enough to meet with the hiring manager, you can expand upon how your unique strengths could be applied in the new position to add value.  

If you make it through the process and do not get selected for the new job, reach out to the hiring manager for tips and insights on what skills, knowledge and experience you can improve upon to become a top candidate in the future.  

Best of luck in your career progression!

I am currently serving 20 years to life as the Sr. Director of Destination Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort.  I'm an optimistic pace-setter fascinated by tomorrow.  In any situation, you can count on me to think outside the box and find the best way forward.  I prefer white-water rapids over data lakes and include Ideation, Futuristic and Positivity amongst my signature talents.    Find me on Twitter @dpddonovan and Instagram @strengthszone  



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