To continue on with the subject of proactive career development, let’s focus on the first step of the Illinois Career Development Association’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development introduced in my last blog.
Step 1. Assess your interests, personality type, transferable skills and values.
This step is, indeed, both the best place to begin and return to any time there is a major change in your life, especially any time you find yourself at another career decision-making fork in the road. The following types of assessments can help you gather the most current and complete information about YOU and help you to make the “best fit” career choices throughout your lifetime.
Is your first reaction to the thought of taking an interest assessment something like, ‘Oh, I took one of those back in high school and it told me I’d be a good ___, and I didn’t want to do that so …’ or ‘I know what I’m interested in so I don’t need to take an interest test”? If so, consider this. Are you aware that being interested in certain subject matter may be a world apart from being interested in the doing of the tasks that go along with the actual work done in that field in which you are interested? I’ve worked with many people over many years who thought they would like a certain field because they were, once upon a time, interested in studying the corresponding subject matter, only to find that they did NOT actually enjoy the DOING of the work that their degree prepared them for. Sad, isn’t it? So, to minimize the likelihood of that happening to you, please DO consider taking an interest assessment with the idea of exploring the potential for your enjoying the DOING of a particular type of work as much if not more so than assessing the subject matter in which you might be interested.
Personality assessments can identify career options that are suited to someone who thinks, solves problems, communicates, and makes decisions in the same way as you. So when you take this type of assessment it is really important that you’re answering the questions as your best and most natural self, being true to who you are. You’ll want to reference positive situations from your own life experiences where you felt fulfilled and energized. If you maintain this mindset while taking a personality assessment the chances are you’ll get better results for identifying the types of work to which you might be well suited.
Generic and transferable skills
Hopefully you are always learning new things. Taking stock of what you can do AND enjoy doing at any given point in your life ought to be an ongoing process. The sum total of your best skills and competencies WILL hopefully grow throughout your lifework experience. And, you may even find that how you prioritize which skills you want to add and/or develop may change at any time depending on your experiences. So, where you need to identify and assess your current skills for your resume or job applications, you really ought to re-evaluate them regularly for your ongoing career development even in your current position. Otherwise how are you going to know if or when it’s time to consider looking within your current work situation or even elsewhere for places to either learn new skills you’d like to acquire or apply new skills you’ve been developing.
Surely, your values are subjective and are likely to change as you meet new people and have new experiences. Know that what you think and feel about yourself, the world and your place in it IS important. YOUR thoughts and feelings ARE valid and will likely have a major impact on the degree of satisfaction and ‘fit’ between you and the work you do and the environment in which you do it. So, check in with yourself from time to time to see how your values may have changed. In fact, your work experiences over the years may have changed how you look at things and that change in perspective can result in a change in your values which WILL, in turn, impact your lifework decisions going forward.
Well, there you have it, a major list of things to assess now and throughout your lifetime. So, after all this, the big POINT here IS, before making any major decisions, KNOW THYSELF!!! And, happy assessing!!