The Clifton Strengths Starter Is The Best $20 Investment Young Professionals Need To Make

The Clifton Strengths Starter Is The Best $20 Investment Young Professionals Need To Make

It is like having an interview response cheat sheet.
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As young, upcoming professionals, many of us have years of interviews, networking, elevator speeches, resumes, and cover letters ahead of us. Without years worth of experience to reflect back on, it can be hard to know how to sell yourself.

One of the most valuable tools I have found to know exactly how to sell myself has been the Clifton Strengths Starter delivered through Gallup Strengths Center.

This is basically a more sophisticated version of a personality test and it can be an amazing tool to help me and other young professionals know what they have to offer.

For $19.99, you get:

  • Your Signature Themes Report: "This report presents your top five so you can identify your dominant talents and start leading a strengths-based life."
  • Strengths Insight Report: "This guide offers an in-depth analysis of your top five. Unique to your specific combination of strengths, this report describes who you are in astonishing detail and provides you with a comprehensive understanding of yourself, your strengths and what makes you stand out."
  • Strengths Insight and Action-Planning Guide: "This guide provides an in-depth analysis of each of your top five, personalized based on your unique strengths profile. It also includes 10 action items for each to help you think about how to start building and applying your strengths every day."
  • Other tools and resources. "You can dive deeper into strengths-based development with your complimentary electronic copy of StrengthsFinder 2.0 and other supporting materials."

Many companies employ these kinds of test to foster development and to focus in on how team members can better work together and contribute. However, I have used my strengths and the other tools provided through this package to better illustrate my strengths, how I work independently and in a team, and how I can add value to a company during interviews and other application processes.

My top 5 strengths are:

1. Strategic

2. Analytical

3. Learner

4. Relator

5. Arranger

From this, I can communicate to potential employers that I am good at finding the most efficient and effective plan and have the skills to know exactly how each of the team members fit into that plan and how to best execute.

These are things that I wouldn't have thought to string together or to name as my greatest strengths without taking the test and it gave me a credible and recognizable source to back up these claims alongside my personal examples.

Through reading the reports, you are able to find ways in which your strengths play a role in your working relationships and your own personal working style. They provide you with words that could be used to describe yourself, situations you work well in, and how you best work in the grand scheme of things.

I review these documents before every interview, writing any cover letter, or even updating my resume. Reading the reports reminds me what I am good at and what I should be communicating.

For less than $20, the Clifton Starter is a great investment that gives yourself an edge in your job hunt!



Cover Image Credit: @legalleeblonde

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8 Things You Need To Know About Selling On Redbubble

Everyone buys their stickers from Redbubble, but have you ever wanted to be the one making them?
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As someone who loves to fool around in Photoshop and Illustrator, I saw Redbubble as a chance to flex my skills as a graphic designer. The massive popularity of them provided me with an opportunity to make a little money on the side doing something I not only enjoyed but could do when the mood struck me. It seemed like a win-win, but there were a few things I wish I knew before I started making stickers.

1. Don't expect to be rolling in dough.

It took a month and maybe 10 different designs before I sold any of my stickers. I joined in October of 2017, and I have sold about 20 stickers.

2. Redbubble stickers are expensive for a reason.

At this point, I have sold about 20 stickers which may seem like a lot, until you find out how much I make per sticker. The artist sets how much they make after Redbubble’s share, so artists can set it as low as 0% profit (which means the sticker sells for $2.29).

3. Buying 10 and getting 50% off is great when you're the one buying the stickers...

...but it sucks when you’re the one selling them. I make an average of 20% per sticker, so when you buy my $2.75 sticker for $1.38, I only make 23¢.

4. Make things you would buy.

If there’s something you want to buy, but it doesn’t exist, make it. Keep in mind as well that if you wouldn't buy it, odds are that not too many other people would.

5. Try to offer variations.

You might make a design in blue and love it, but consider offering it in different colors. Someone might love the design but hate the color.

6. Make your designs as versatile as possible.

Redbubble is primarily known for its stickers, but your designs can be put on anything from a poster to a wall clock. Take advantage of that because more expensive items mean you make more for the same design when they sell.

7. Keywords are KEY.

You want your designs to be as visible as possible, so take advantage of all the tools they give you. Try to tag your design with anything that might relate to it; you want it to pop up in as many tags as possible.

8. Do your research.

If you are interested in making something, search one of the keywords and see how many results there are for it. Sometimes there is a need, and you can fill it.

I have enjoyed my time on Redbubble nonetheless, and I recommend it to anyone who likes to design or draw. It’s certainly not a good way to get rich quick, but I enjoy it. Every time someone purchases one of my stickers, I feel this rush of pride in knowing someone liked something that I designed. That's a big reason why I continue to put designs on Redbubble.



Cover Image Credit: Meagan McDowell

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11 Financial Tips For College Grads Who Don't Know Where To Start

Most people learn how to navigate their finances as they go, at the cost of making several mistakes and starting good habits later than they should've. Don't be like most people!

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Adulting is hard, especially when it comes to money. If you're like me and you took a personal finance class in high school or college, you probably don't remember much because the information wasn't relevant to you at the time. Well, now you're almost done with college and you're ready to be welcomed into the real world as a freshly-minted adult. Suddenly you realize that class was probably one of the most important classes you ever could've taken.

Here are 11 tips to start making money moves today.

1. Start building your credit

It may not seem important now, but it's a good idea to start building your credit early. In three to five years or so, when you're ready to apply for a car or home loan, you're going to want to be approved to get the best interest rates, and that means having a credit score of at least 760. See tips two and three for more on how to increase your credit score.

2. Open a credit card if you don't have one already

One huge factor in your credit score is how long your oldest credit card account has been open, so you want to make sure to start early. A first card many people get is called a "secured" credit card, which basically acts like a debit card so the bank knows you won't go all "Shopaholic" and max it out. Make sure to pay every single one of your monthly payments on time and in full. No excuses, no exceptions.

3. Make all of your student loan payments on time and in full

JUST DO IT.

4. Embrace the concept of paying yourself first

Paying yourself first is a concept that many millionaires, even billionaires, swear by. Decide how much of your income you want to save. Then set up a portion of your paycheck to deposit directly into your savings before you can even think about it. The rest can go to your checking account for spending on bills, food, rent, and other expenses.

5. Build a three- to six-month emergency fund

Did you know that 33% of Americans would struggle to pay $1,000 in an emergency? This is a serious issue. You don't want to ever experience living "paycheck to paycheck," let alone have a minor crisis throw your life upside down. That's why you're going to build this emergency fund before you do anything else with your money. Think of this fund as something that you can't touch until you absolutely need it. If and when that time comes, you'll know, and you'll be so grateful that you were smart and were prepared.

6. Open a Roth IRA

There are so many things to be said about Roth IRAs and why you should get one as a new college graduate. In short, IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account. A Roth IRA is unique because any money you put into it is taxed now, so you won't have to pay taxes on it when you're retired and ready to use it. The main benefit: you also won't have to pay any taxes on the money you earn in the account. In addition, because you're young, you get to take advantage of the power of compound interest for a long time before you retire. This could potentially earn you hundreds of thousands of dollars. The best time to open a Roth IRA was yesterday. So go do it now!

7. Contribute as much as possible to your 401k

A 401k is basically an investment bank account that you can't use until you retire, and it will be taxed once you start using it (so it is not taxed now). Many employers offer 401k matching, and they open one up for you when you start your first job. If your employer offers 100% matching up to 6% of your salary, that means that if you can afford to put 6% of your income into your 401k, your employer will also contribute the exact same amount. Listen to me: this is free money. I like free money. You like free money. Take it.

8. Open a high-yield savings account

This is 2019. Don't keep your money in cash or in a regular savings account, where it'll depreciate 2-3% in value every single year it sits there. Get yourself a high-yield savings account, in which interest rates are anywhere between 2.0 and 2.25%, and watch your money make money while you sleep.

9. Start tracking your spending

Since it has become much easier to make quick and painless purchases these days, you should definitely be aware of your spending. I personally like to use a free app, like Mint, that does all the work for you because it puts all of your financial accounts (ie. savings and checking accounts, investments, loans, assets, etc.) into one place.

10. Create a monthly budget for each of your spending categories

These include food, housing, transportation, entertainment, subscriptions, health and wellness, and maybe more. You should know the things you always buy on a monthly basis and how much they typically cost. Comparing your budget to what you really spent after a month will show you exactly where your weaknesses are. Try to stay at or under your budget for each category every month unless there's an unusual event, like a vacation or a car repair.

11. Learn the basics of investing

Compared to the other tips on this list, this is one you can put on the back-burner for a bit. However, that doesn't make it any less important. It's critical for everyone who is financially independent to understand the basics of stocks, bonds, Exchange-Traded Funds, Mutual Funds, REITs, and more that you can use to diversify your portfolio, including in your new Roth IRA and 401k!

What are you waiting for? Up your financial game!

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