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  • Bite-Sized Scenario Training™ Finding Your

    Unique Strengths

    Bite-Sized Training™

  • This e-book is published by Mind Tools Ltd.

    Copyright © Mind Tools Ltd, 2007-2016. All rights reserved.

    Version 3.1.

    This e-book is protected by international copyright law. You may use it only if you are authorized by your organization to use Mind Tools Connect™. If you have any queries, please contact us at

    “Mind Tools” is a registered trademark (US 4,566,696, EU 012473377) of Mind Tools Ltd.

    Cover image © iStockphoto/JimmyAnderson.

    Finding Your Unique Strengths Bite-Sized Training

  • iiiFinding Your Unique Strengths Bite-Sized Training™ | Mind Tools

    1. Introduction 1

    2. Understanding Uniqueness 2

    3. Determining the Competencies That People Value 3

    4. Ranking Your Abilities 6

    5. Your USP 11

    6. Building and Marketing Your USP 14

    7. Key Learning Points 16


  • 1Finding Your Unique Strengths Bite-Sized Training™ | Mind Tools

    1. Introduction

    In this Bite-Sized Training session, we focus on helping you make the most of who you are – both at work and in your personal life. We’ll explore how you can use Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Analysis to do this. It’s a tool commonly used by businesses to determine how to market their products and services, and to discover how they can set themselves apart from their competition.

    Individuals can also use USP Analysis. You can use it to analyze your strengths, so that you can make best use of them and develop them for the future. By completing this exercise, you can discover what makes your skills uniquely valuable, and reap the rewards as a result.

    However, the reality is that many other people will have similar strengths to yours. For example, it’s not uncommon to find effective communicators, who work extremely hard, or who are strategic thinkers. You may also find that some people with similar skills and abilities do these things better than you!

    To be the very best at anything takes focus, determination, sacrifice, and natural aptitude. But even if you are “the best” in one area, it doesn’t mean that you should necessarily put all of your “eggs in one skill-type basket.”

    What is much better, and easier, is to be the most effective person you know, across a number of disciplines that your customers or employers really value. This is what USP Analysis focuses on: how to make yourself stand out in a sea of common traits and factors. It isn’t just one of your strengths, skills, talents, or abilities that makes you unique; it’s how, and where, you use and combine them that makes the difference. How you package your strengths, and how you tailor them to the opportunities that you seek, is the whole point behind a personal USP Analysis.

    This Bite-Sized Training™ session focuses on how to conduct a personal USP Analysis. In one hour, you’ll learn how to:

    • Determine what your employers and/or customers value the most in you. • Understand what your strengths are, compared with other people’s. • Identify how you can improve your career prospects by building on the

    skills that matter.

    This session on USP Analysis will give you the tools that you need to assess your strengths intelligently across multiple dimensions. The exercises will also help you come up with a marketable USP that you can use to pursue the career of your dreams.

  • 2Finding Your Unique Strengths Bite-Sized Training™ | Mind Tools

    2. Understanding Uniqueness

    Think about the last time you bought something expensive, such as a car or an item of jewelry.Did you go into the first showroom or store that you saw and buy the cheapest product you could find? Or did you think carefully about what you wanted, research the market, choose the product that best suited your needs, and then try to get the best price?

    Some people do buy things based on cost alone, but they may then have a product which isn’t completely appropriate. However, many others look for a product that best fits what they want. And while it’s usually difficult for businesses to make a profit solely by setting the lowest prices, it tends to be much easier to offer a higher-quality, higher-priced product if it uniquely meets someone’s needs. This is why being unique is such a highly valued attribute.

    For most businesses, their uniqueness comes from their core competencies. The people who defined this relationship most effectively, C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel, argued in their 1990 Harvard Business Review paper, “The Core Competence of the Corporation,” that core competencies are some of the most important sources of uniqueness. These are essential selling points that represent what a company does uniquely well, and that no one else can copy quickly enough to have an impact.

    A core competence must be:

    • Highly relevant to the purchaser. • Difficult to imitate. • Widely applicable across a number of markets.

    When you apply the concept of core competence to individuals – say in a recruitment process – it’s the person who best suits a role who gets hired. And it’s the person whose skills benefit an organization the most who can command the highest rewards package.

    When you look at your own competencies using the three criteria above, you can see that it’s quite hard to define personal core competencies. This is why we need to look at them as a package. So, for us to be uniquely valuable, we need to define a set of competencies that we can use to make the most of our life, and our career.

  • 1.



    3Finding Your Unique Strengths Bite-Sized Training™ | Mind Tools

    3. Determining the Competencies That People Value

    The first step in USP Analysis is to determine the skills and competencies that decision makers value. In our case, this person is likely to be a hiring manager, recruitment consultant, or HR professional during the recruitment period, a line manager who’s deciding on promotions, or a client looking to hire you for a key role.

    These “customers” are the gatekeepers to the opportunities that we want to pursue. They highly value certain skills, knowledge and abilities, which we can gain if we work in a certain field or industry, or if we return to education and retrain.

    However, before we can look at the skills, knowledge and abilities that really matter, our first step is to decide what we want to achieve. In other words, what opportunities are attractive to us?

    Action: Find some examples of opportunities that you are really excited about, and that you believe are achievable.

    Choose your top three opportunities, and make sure that your current position is one of them. We suggest this because your current job can be used as a benchmark against which you can evaluate other options, and you don’t want to make the mistake of always believing that “the grass is greener on the other side.” Write these opportunities down below.

  • 4Finding Your Unique Strengths Bite-Sized Training™ | Mind Tools

    Brainstorm Valuable Characteristics Your personal USP is your unique selling point – the package of skills and talents that you have and others don’t. You won’t know what sort of package to bring, or to develop, unless you understand what makes people successful in the roles that you desire. You also need to consider what your “customers” want.

    Look at successful people who currently work in your desired position or field, and consider these questions:

    • What skills and personal qualities do they possess? • What skills and education do they value? • What skills set apart the people who excel in this field? • What skill set does their organization value? (If you have a particular

    employer in mind, try to find out what competencies the hiring managers look for.)

    First, you must identify the most valuable characteristics that you need to develop to take advantage of each opportunity. As this is an important step in the process, spend a good amount of time on this – after all, if you analyze yourself based on factors that the employer, or industry, doesn’t value, then you will waste your time. For example, if no one cares that you can write well, don’t include it as a valuable characteristic.

    Note: For now, record your best guess of what makes a valuable characteristic, given the amount of knowledge that you have, or the research that you’ve done on your opportunity. After this training session, get more specific information on your opportunity from direct sources. For example, talk to people who already work in the job, department or company that you are interested in, look at organizational websites, and so on.

    Action: Use the brainstorming template on the next page to record the most valuable characteristics for your opportunities.

    Start with the first opportunity, and then move on through the USP Analysis. When you have more time, you can come back and do the same for the other two opportunities.

  • Opportunity #1

    Likely Valued Characteristics

    Opportunity #2

    Likely Valued Characteristics

    Opportunity #3

    Likely Valued Characteristics