With a few minutes to spare in the local library the other day, I absent-mindedly flicked through the books designed to help readers land a job. There were plenty. How to write the perfect resume. How to sail through interviews. How to write a killer cover letter. You know the kind of thing.
Amusingly there were even a few that promised to help you ‘succeed’ in psychometric tests, which when you stop to think about it seems almost as daft as offering to help you pass a blood test.
Of course, most books that aim to boost your interview chances are almost certain to propose model answers to tricky questions, including that old chestnut: ‘You’ve given us a great idea of your strengths – but what weaknesses do you have?’
Now, ‘Getting sleepy and being pretty unproductive after lunch’ is probably not a great answer. Nor is ‘I try make a point of taking home a pack of pens from the stationery room once a week’.
Instead, following the advice of books like these is generally about creating a kind of fake weakness out of something that most would regard as a strength: ‘I think at times I may take too much care to avoid making mistakes’ or ‘Some might consider that I worry over-much about getting to work on time in the mornings’.
They’re not really weaknesses, are they? Most employers would probably view them as strengths actually. Strengths, thinly disguised as weaknesses.
The thing is, if you’re applying for a job or trying to woo the man/woman of your dreams, surely it makes sense to place your strengths to the fore? Telling them what you’re good at, rather than dwelling on your shortcomings, seems a better strategy for success.
You probably take this principle for granted, but I wonder if you always show as much sense when it comes to talking to someone else? You. Especially you on a less-bright day.
If you’re anything like me, when you’re struggling through a rough patch you’ll be more inclined to focus on your weaknesses, and this really isn’t helpful.
You have your own unique strengths and talents, and a low mood day is in fact the perfect opportunity to remind yourself of them. Perhaps people view you as thoughtful and considerate? Maybe you’re decisive in a crisis? Or it could be that you have the uncanny knack of being able to soldier on regardless, even when the chips are down.
The next time things seem gloomy, it might help to imagine selling yourself to yourself, reminding yourself in the process that you’re far from worthless.