Soaring on Your Strengths
by Robin Ryan

Penguin, 192 pages, $10.78

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Everyone from recent college grads to rookie career seekers will appreciate Soaring on Your Strengths, an up-to-the minute, bleeding edge guide to navigating the quick-shifting waters of the modern day workplace. Ryan’s 20 plus years as a career counselor have served her well toward helping career seekers and employed professionals sculpt what she calls Brand You. True client stories and her personal reflections combine with detailed steps to reveal how to communicate your career identity to the world.

“Most people haven’t given much thought to how they are perceived at work,” writes Ryan. The fact that a recent survey cited that 70% of the workforce is comprised of disengaged workers is good news for those willing to put in something extra. According to the author, differentiating yourself is a job in itself that requires self-assessment, feedback from friends and colleagues and being creative with your core competencies.

The section on mind maps alludes to author Tony Buzan’s charts which enable people to see their strengths through illustrations. These easy-to-do tools clearly articulate a career seeker’s achievements and active strengths. Soaring on Your Strengths divides marketing yourself into four distinct chronological categories:

  1. The Early Brand You
  2. The Mid-Career Brand You
  3. The Executive Career Brand You
  4. The Reinvented Career Brand You

Each of these categories has specific branding strategies that address different situations. For example, there is advice for the Been-There-Forever Employee, The Laid Off Worker and Military to Civilian scenarios. Especially insightful is the chapter “The Boss and You” with supervisors sharing tips on what they look for most in their employees. Among the findings--bosses want employees who show initiative to get ahead and they expect workers who are proactive and ask for what they need.  

Communicating your skills is essential for job seekers at all levels whether they are looking to get in the door or get promoted. Soaring on Your Strengths addresses the internal as well as external steps like attire and grooming you can take to make yourself more marketable. Often, professionals feel that the existing strengths they have are valuable, but they neglect to develop them. Those looking to authentically brand themselves and truly excel will find a treasure trove of information in this book.

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