Exploring your strengths after losing your job

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When you lose your job, your first reaction may be to try to find the exact same job somewhere else. But first, pause for a moment.

Your desire to find the same job is totally natural, but it may not be a good strategy. Maybe that job isn’t as in-demand as it once was, or maybe it doesn’t allow you to use your skills to their full capacity.

Regardless of what the economic viability of your former career looks like, you’re at a crossroads and have the opportunity to consider a new path. Before you default to the same one you were on before, take time to think about who you are, what type of work you value, and what else might be a good fit for you.

Here are some exercises to help you do that:

The Peak Exercise

1. Think about peak work experiences in your life. The experiences can come from any work you’ve done—paid or unpaid, professional or from high school or college activities. A “peak” work experience is a time when you are fully engaged, when every cell in your body is alive and involved with the tasks at hand. Identify three peak work experiences and list each on a separate sheet of paper.

2. Write a paragraph about each experience describing what you were doing. Include the following:

  • What were the core activities you were doing?

  • What people were with you? How did you interact with them?

  • How did you feel during this experience? Did your emotions change?

  • What were your surroundings?

  • Was there an outcome? How did that resonate with you?

3. Review your paragraphs. Answer the following questions:

  • Are there common themes or features to your experiences?

  • Were you working alone or in groups?

  • Were you working with conceptual ideas or concrete materials?

  • List aspects that are the same and those that are different across experiences.

4. Discuss your experiences and your findings with a coach or friend to apply learning to your job search.

Path to Achievements Exercise

1. Think back on your life and make a list of the top five accomplishments you most enjoyed doing. This is about the process of achieving, rather than the achievement itself.

2. List the accomplishments and describe them. Some questions that might help are:

  • Why was I successful at accomplishing these achievements?

  • What made me uniquely able to succeed?

  • Why did I enjoy these accomplishments?

  • What skills did I bring to the experiences that were pure me?

  • Why was I able to accomplish this the way that I did?

3. Review each accomplishment and compile a list of all the skills you brought to these achievements.


If the exercises above led you back to the same career path, great. Now it’s time to determine how in-demand that job is. But if they didn’t, don’t be afraid to start exploring what else is out there.

Kate McLaughlinCareer