Job Application Advice: When Your "Weaknesses" Turn Into Assets

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Job Application Advice: Skills and Well-Being Development Techniques for HR Managers

In an economic context in which the demand for performance and competitiveness is constantly put forward, recruiters may be tempted to seek the "perfect" candidate. This person may simultaneously have to display cutting-edge know-how and excellent personal skills, be creative and spontaneous as well as methodically rigorous, dispose of both a strong autonomy and great teamwork skills, etc. As a consequence, candidates may feel the need to show a perfect image of themselves in which no weakness is apparent. This, however, increases the pressure of the interview and makes the assessment’s results unreliable.

And yet, we know for a fact that we all have both strengths and weaknesses. Thinking that certain people would only display strengths while avoiding any imperfection reflects a an Hollywoodian imagery that tends to idealize the merits of beautiful (and often surgically-enhanced) individuals.

It is thus necessary to become aware of the fact that some weaknesses can actually be considered as assets depending on the professional context. It is even possible to say that each job has requirements both in terms of strong skills and of skills that should remain at an average or low level.

The first reason for this is that the presence of weak job skills may actually be necessary for the well-being of both employees and their superiors. Let’s take the example of a highly technical job that requires the employee to work alone for a good part of the day; a person who displays very strong social skills would certainly feel quite unhappy in that position, while someone with less taste for social interactions might feel perfectly at ease there. Similarly, an Advisor to the CEO who disposes of strong competencies, yet displays limited ambitions, will certainly prove a real blessing to his/her boss.

A second reason is that strong competencies that are not put to use in a given position can represent a significant source of stress for the concerned employees, although this consideration is often left out of the equation. Imagine a person who disposes of a strong sense of initiative, yet whose position requires him/her to complete very repetitive tasks; this individual is clearly at risk of undergoing a significant stress due to the lack of room to maneuver!

Finally, we should stress that the presence of certain limitations may sometimes be required in order to ease the integration of a newcomer into the organization (guidelines), or to foster complementarity within a team.

In the course of a recruitment or selection process (guidelines), the candidate who displays the strongest and most diversified competencies may thus not necessarily represent the best fit for a given position. It is thus important that candidates present themselves with as much authenticity as possible and that recruiters avoid setting higher standards than necessary!

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