Recognizing Your Strengths

Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, August 2021

One of the keys to successful employment is to recognize your strengths. This helps you to choose a job that emphasizes what you do well. It is also necessary to communicate your abilities on a resume and during a job interview.

There are several types of strengths that are valuable in the workplace:

▪ Talents, which are natural abilities such as writing, drawing, listening, researching, analyzing and teaching

▪ Skills, which are competencies that are learned and developed over time, for example accounting, computer programming, medical coding and auto repair

▪ Personal characteristics such as honesty, persistence, intelligence, patience, creativity and loyalty

▪ Education, which can be a college degree, certification or apprenticeship, as well as continuing education through seminars, workshops, conferences and self-study

Additionally, there are strengths associated with how individuals on the autism spectrum process information. These are generally recognized as:

▪ Sustained concentration

▪ Strong long-term memory

▪ Attention to detail

▪ Pattern recognition

▪ Logic and analysis

One way to identify your talents is to think back to your childhood and the activities that came easily. Were you drawn to mathematics, science, or music? Did you excel at drawing, writing, working with your hands, or sports?

Skills can either be “hard” or “soft.” Hard skills refer to technical proficiencies, such as writing computer code, whereas soft skill relate to interpersonal communication. Many skills are transferable, meaning that they are used in a variety of different jobs. Examples include writing, organizing, listening, and problem solving.

Personal characteristics are frequently overlooked, even though they are very important in the workplace. Honesty is valued no matter what the job but is especially important for an employee who handles cash. Patience is a must-have trait for a person who tests software.

Although every job utilizes a variety of abilities, some will be more critical than others. My clients are usually concerned when they see communication as a required job skill, since this is not an area of strength. However, the type and amount of conversing that is required depends on the particular position. Programmers must interact with other members of the work team. But the exchanges are mostly factual. This is quite different than a customer service specialist who interacts with upset customers.

The key is to find an occupation that emphasizes your strengths while minimizing your areas of challenge. Kathryn was fluent in four languages. She explored working as a tour guide, teacher, tutor, and study abroad coordinator. She discovered that these careers involved significant social interaction. However, the job of translator involved working with text, and required little interpersonal communication.

Finally, strengths can (and should) be developed throughout your working life. This can happen through on-the-job experience, formal education, volunteer work or finding a mentor.

Copyright 2021, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching