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Donna Schilder

Professional Certified Coach

Leadership, Career, & Business Coach

(562) 434-7822 -

Donna Schilder

VIA Survey of Character Strengths

“As coaches, the authors have found the Strengths Survey to be quietly radical. Many clients have never had their strengths assessed and find that just reading the survey results helps them label or understand themselves in new ways.” Carol Kaufmman, Ph.D. Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry.

The VIA Survey of Character Strengths (created by Martin Seligman) will help you identify your values. Martin Seligman, in his book Authentic Happiness, states that he has found in his research that if a person uses their Signature Strengths in their work they will find it more meaningful and will, therefore, be happier.

To take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths:

    1. You will need to register and create a User ID to take the inventory. There is no cost to take the Inventory.
    2. Once you register, click on show questionnaire under VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
    3. The VIA Survey of Character Strengths will be the first item on the list. Contact your Career Coach if you have any problems getting in.
    4. Once you fill out the survey, it will return your top 5 Strengths (known as your Signature Strengths).
      • Click on the Show All 24 Strengths button at the bottom of the page, to show how you rated all of the strengths in order of preference.
    5. Copy the page by highlighting it and clicking on Copy, then paste your results into a Word document, save the file, and e-mail it to your Career Coach.
    6. It should take about 30-40 minutes to complete the survey.


Click here to start taking the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.

NOTE: If you need to get out of the inventory and get back into it, your answers to that point will be saved and you can return to the survey by clicking here.

Character Strengths


In Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman identifies twenty-four character strengths that fall into six categories. He calls these strengths Values in Action (VIA).  They are:

Wisdom and Knowledge:

Curiosity & Interest in the World
• Love of learning
• Judgment, Critical Thinking & Open-mindedness
• Creativity, Ingenuity & Originality
• Social intelligence
• Perspective Wisdom


• Bravery & Valor
• Perseverance (Industry, Diligence & Perseverance)
• Honesty, Authenticity & Genuineness (Integrity)

Humanity and Love:

• Kindness & Generosity
Capacity to Love & Be Loved


• Citizenship, Teamwork & Loyalty
• Fairness
• Leadership


• Self-control & Self-regulation
• Caution, Prudence & Discretion
• Modesty & Humility


• Appreciation of beauty
Hope, Optimism & Future-Mindedness
• Spirituality, Sense of Purpose & Faith
• Forgiveness & Mercy
• Humor & Playfulness
Zest, Enthusiasm & Energy


Finding Work that is Meaningful – Using Your Signature Strengths


Your top 5 strengths on your VIA Survey of Character Strengths are your Signature Strengths.  It is important to validate the results of the survey.  Ask yourself:

  • Do the top 5 strengths listed in your results seem like they are your authentically you?
  • When you utilize these strengths do you experience a sense of flow (time passing without awareness that it has passed, being completely engrossed in an activity)?
    • If the strengths listed in your top 5 does not seem like it induces a sense of flow or does not seem to represent you, take a look at number 6 and 7 to see if one of them aligns more closely with you.


Once you have validated your Signature Strengths (top 5 strengths), they will become part of your Career Criteria that will support you in selecting your career or job.

You and your Coach can also use your Signature Strengths to brainstorm Career Possibilities.  Look at each of your Signature Strengths and brainstorm a list of careers you believe would utilize that strength.  Then determine if you want to add it to your Career Possibilities List.

Below is a link to a list of Career, Jobs & Activities that use each of the character strengths.  Look for each of your Signature Strengths in the list and see if there are any jobs or careers you would like to add to your Career Possibilities List or if they help you think of other possibilities.  You can also note hobbies to explore that will utilize your Signature Strengths

Examples of Career, Jobs & Activities that Utilize Signature Strengths


Increasing Your Happiness


The results of the VIA Survey of Character Strengths can help you increase your happiness by helping you find new ways to use your Signature Strengths (your top five strengths) in your current work or hobbies. Using your Signature Strengths in your work and personal life will increase your sense of meaning and purpose.

Increasing happiness is not just an end in itself; it also correlates with, and may even help create greater:

• Competence
• Resilience
• Access to personal as well as social resources
• Physical health
• Deeper connection to society
• A sense of personal mission

In addition to helping you increase your happiness through increased use of your Signature Strengths, the VIA Survey of Character Strengths can help you increase your happiness because it can help you increase your use of certain strengths that are more closely associated with happiness.

Of the 24 character strengths, the five that are most strongly correlated to happiness are:

  • Gratitude
  • Curiosity & Interest in the World
  • Zest, Enthusiasm & Energy
  • Hope, Optimism & Future-Mindedness
  • Capacity to Love and be Loved


You can increase your happiness by increasing your use of and alignment with these 5 strengths. (This is an inventory that changes over time, it is not static.)

You can increase these by being aware and setting the intention to use them more and by doing actiivities and exercises that increase them. Martin Seligman has created many exercises that he has proven increase gratitude and optimism. Here two links to exercises to increase happiness and your use of your Signature Strengths:



Also, Martin Seligman writes about increasing happiness and increasing your use of your Signature Strengths in his books: Authentic Happiness and Learned Optimism.

For other articles on the VIA Character Strengths click here.


VIA Strengths Inventory Questions to Increase Sense of Purpose & Happiness


  • How can you utilize your Signature Strengths more in your work, avocations, and/or volunteer work?
  • How can you utilize your Signature Strengths more in your hobbies and home life?
  • How do you currently utilize your Signatures Strengths?
  • How could you use them even more?
  • If you are exploring careers, which jobs and/or business seem to utilize your Signature Strengths?