February 9, 2010
Written by Cory Chandler
StrengthsQuest is a tool for students, faculty and staff to learn what their strengths are and use them to succeed in their careers at Texas Tech and in their future beyond the university.
Face it, you are not Kobe Bryant.
No matter how much you love basketball. No matter how many Lakers jerseys you own. No matter how many times you’ve dreamed of dribbling up the L.A. hardcourt on a slash to the Staples paint, it just isn’t going to happen.
You are too slow. You are too short. And you are not nearly as cool in the clutch.
You could sweat it out for years in the gym. Throw free throws until your arms go numb. And you will still never be Kobe Bryant, but that’s OK. Really.
The truth is, there are some jobs that you are just not suited for. This is one of them. And it’s good that you know this, because once you realize you are not Kobe Bryant, you can quit trying to be Kobe Bryant. You can begin playing to your own strengths. Which is the beauty of StrengthsQuest, an assessment tool developed by the Gallup Organization to help identify a person’s natural talents.
Introduced through Texas Tech University Career Services in 2004, the program assesses and ranks the strengths of participants and can be used to gauge potential career fields for students or as a job development tool for faculty and staff.
“When you take the assessment, you’ll get an output of five strengths,” said Jay Killough, an associate director with University Career Services. “From there, what we do with that information depends on what the student needs at the time.”
This is where the Kobe Bryant issue comes in.
The idea that someone may not be particularly suited for a job is a hard reality for many to grasp – especially in America where kids are raised on an ambition-fattening diet of parental affirmation. After all, what child hasn't been assured by well-intentioned parents that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up?
Basketball star? Definitely. Astronaut? Sure. President? Why not?
But the truth is, some people are outgoing and some aren’t. Some are naturally organized, some are disorganized. And while an introvert could perform a job that requires a lot of personal interaction, StrengthsQuest encourages people to question whether such a position would be a natural fit.
“If you realize you like to solve problems, then you might look at StrengthsQuest and say, ‘Hm, I’m analytical. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but I really don’t like to be around people all day,” said Jan Childress, associate vice president for student affairs & external relations.
Perhaps those traits would be better suited to a different field.
“If you have taken StrengthsQuest, then you know that you have certain skills that make you stronger in certain situations,” Childress said.
The assessment ranks 34 personality traits that range from positivity to competiveness and provides test takers with the five they demonstrate most strongly. StrengthsQuest advisors then use the assessment to help participants meet their personal needs.
So, with a freshmen student, they might use the information to develop effective study habits or navigate the ever-treacherous waters of roommate relations. Seniors, on the other hand, might get advice on career issues. For faculty and staff, who already have jobs, it could provide a tool for professional development … or just serve as an icebreaker.
“A lot of the times, faculty will work together but they won’t necessarily communicate much together, even though they work in the same department. This 'strengths language' gives them an avenue to get to know each other better on a personal level,” Killough said.
And that is an added benefit, Childress said. The program provides a common language that people can use to relate their strengths to others.
“When an employer asks, ‘what are your strengths? How are you going to be successful in the future?,’ the strengths language can give them some clues on how to answer that question successfully.”
Say you’re in a job interview. Suit’s on, tie’s knotted, potential boss is across the table. Everything’s going well, too, when suddenly he asks you, “What are your strengths?”
You pause. You cough and shuffle papers to buy yourself some time while the wheels spin inside your head.
Strengths? You’re pretty organized. You work well with others … you think. He presses.
“What makes you the best candidate for this position?”
You stammer through an answer, but when the door shuts behind you after the interview, you wish you’d had some succinct way to answer the question.
“If you know that you’re good at working with people, but you don’t really know why you’re good at working with people, StregthsQuest will give you the language to tell people why you’re good at those things,” Childress said.
Kendall Rompf took the StrengthsQuest assessment as a freshmen. Her strengths are input, futuristic, significance, restorative and achiever.
"Knowing my strengths has helped me throughout my career at Texas Tech. It's allowed me to work better with my professors and group members for classes. Also, they have taught me how to study better and how to prepare for job interviews."
StrengthsQuest gives students and educators the opportunity to develop strengths by building on their greatest talents -- the way in which they most naturally think, feel, and behave as unique individuals.
StrengthsQuest is offered free of charge for all students, faculty and staff by University Career Services.