When you are trying to choose a career, there are two things you should do that will help you make a better, and well-informed, decision. First, you have to learn about yourself. Then, you have to explore careers that might be a good fit based on what you have learned. These are Steps One and Two of the Career Planning Process. If you go online, you will be able to find a wealth of information about any career that comes to mind, but learning about yourself will take a lot more effort. You will have to do what is known as a self-assessment.
What is a self-assessment? Is it a test of some sort? A self-assessment is not a test. It does not have the desired outcome, for example, right or wrong answers that would demonstrate the mastery of a subject. It is a way to learn about yourself by gathering data that includes information about your work-related values, interests, personality type, and aptitudes. Your goal will be to find occupations that are suitable based on the results. Of course, there are other factors that you will have to weigh when making a final decision, but that will happen during the next step of the process—career exploration.
Why You Should Do a Formal Self Assessment
How much do you know about yourself? If you are like most people, you probably have to give a lot of thought to this question before you can answer it. You might know what your hobbies are and that you are (or aren't) a people person. You probably couldn't explain, with ease, what work-related values are important to you and, while you may know some things that you are good at, you may not have a complete list of all your aptitudes. Even if you could provide a rundown of every one of your characteristics, there's a good chance you don't know how to use that information to help you find a career that is a good fit.
Utilizing a variety of self-assessment tools will help you put together all the pieces of the puzzle.
Anatomy of a Self Assessment
A self-assessment, to be effective, must take into account an individual's work-related values, interests, personality type, and aptitudes. All of these characteristics make up who you are, so ignoring any of them won't give you an accurate answer. Let's take a look at each one.
- Work-Related Values: Your values are the ideas and beliefs that are important to you. Your work-related values can include autonomy, prestige, security, interpersonal relationships, helping others, flexible work schedule, outdoor work, leisure time, and high salary. If you take these things into account when choosing a career, you have a better chance of achieving job satisfaction.
- Interests: Your likes and dislikes regarding various activities make up your interests. E.K. Strong and other psychologists discovered many years ago that people who share similar interests also enjoy the same type of work. Based on this theory he developed what is now called the Strong Interest Inventory, an assessment many career development experts use to assist their clients with career planning. Examples of interests include reading, running, golfing, and knitting.
- Personality Type: Your personality type is made up of your social traits, motivational drives, needs, and attitudes. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, developed a theory of personality that is widely used in career planning and is the basis for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a highly popular personality inventory. Knowing what your type is can help you choose an occupation because particular personality types are better suited to certain careers, as well as work environments, than are others.
- Aptitude: Aptitude refers to an individual's natural talent, learned the ability, or capacity to acquire a skill. Examples include math, science, visual art, music, verbal or written communication, reading comprehension, logic and reasoning, manual dexterity, mechanics, or spatial relations. You may have multiple aptitudes. It is important to keep in mind that having an aptitude for something, doesn't mean you will necessarily like doing it. Or you may enjoy doing it, but not for work. That is something to keep in mind when you choose a career.