Mining for Strengths – Questions to Build Self-esteem and Motivation

BBMD Consulting

By Richard Hamilton.

Unemployment can have a profoundly adverse impact on our client’s self-esteem and motivation. Clients come to us with some feeling of failure, fully focused on their short comings rather than their strengths; we need to move that self-doubt out of the way.  By exploring our client’s interests and related successes, we can help reconstruct self-esteem and activate motivation.

You may be thinking, “Who has the time to explore our client’s lives, uncovering hidden interests and mining for strengths?”.  Our instinct is to move to action, resume writing, job search strategies and interview techniques, but research has shown that by moving too quickly, we slow ourselves down.  Mark Miller has 30 years of experience as a career counselling practitioner, and is a former editor of the Journal of Employment Counseling. Mark writes, “I have found myself deliberately slowing down the career counselling process by spending more time on client exploration. Quite fortuitously, I discovered by slowing down, important career decisions are reached much quicker.”

What can you do?

We know that engaging the client’s motivation and building resolve to sustain their motivation is vital to finding and keeping a job. By asking a few simple but important questions, a skilled counsellor will draw out and highlight the attributes that under pin the client’s strengths and past success, talking them into meaning with the client.

What are her interests? For example, the client who was a marathon runner, this is a sport that requires determination, dedication and commitment, attributes that will serve her well in any occupation and is valued by employers. Or the client who plays an instrument, what does this say about your client? The counsellor could follow this line of questions…”You said you play guitar. A lot of people would like to play an instrument but few succeed.  Would you agree it takes a lot of focus and discipline to be successful?”  Following a similar line of questions will effectively move your client beyond their short comings and self-doubt, revealing their strengths and rebuilding their self-esteem and motivation.   Here are few more questions to help you uncover your client’s hidden strengths.

 Questions to reveal personal strengths:

  1. Interests/hobbies. What does this say about the person?
  2. What is something she is most proud of?
  3. Who passed on values to him?
  4. When was a time in his life when he had to succeed against a problem like unemployment?

Questions to reveal vocational strengths:

  1. When was the last time he was employed?
  2. How did she find that job?
  3. How long employed?
  4. How did he retain the job?
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