Self assessment is the first step of the career planning process. During a self assessment you gather information about yourself in order to make an informed career decision. A self assessment should include a look at the following: values, interests, personality, and skills.
- Values: the things that are important to you, like achievement, status, and autonomy
- Interests: what you enjoy doing, i.e. playing golf, taking long walks, hanging out with friends
- Personality: a person's individual traits, motivational drives, needs, and attitudes
- Skills: the activities you are good at, such as writing, computer programming, teaching
Many people choose to hire a career counselor who will administer a variety of self assessment inventories. What follows is a discussion of the different types of tools you may encounter, as well as some other things to consider when pursuing a career change.
Value InventoriesYour values are possibly the most important thing to consider when you're choosing an occupation. If you don't take your values into account when planning your career, there's a good chance you'll dislike your work and therefore not succeed in it. For example, someone who needs to have autonomy in his work would not be happy in a job where every action is decided by someone else.
There are two types of values: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic values are related to the work itself and what it contributes to society. Extrinsic values include external features, such as physical setting and earning potential. Value inventories will ask you to answer questions like the following:
- Is a high salary important to you?
- Is it important for your work to involve interacting with people?
- Is it important for your work to make a contribution to society?
- Is having a prestigious job important for you?
During a self assessment, a career counselor may administer one of the following value inventories: Minnesota Importance Questionnaire (MIQ), Survey of Interpersonal Values (SIV), or Temperament and Values Inventory (TVI). If you want to get a feel for what you'll be asked, take a look at the Work-Related Values Assessment, which is a printable list of work related values, with a definition of each one.
Interest InventoriesInterest inventories are also frequently used in career planning. When you complete an interest inventory you are asked to answer a series of questions regarding your (surprise) interests. E.K. Strong, Jr. pioneered the development of interest inventories. He found, through data he gathered about people's likes and dislikes of a variety of activities, objects, and types of persons, that people in the same career (and satisfied in that career) had similar interests. Dr. John Holland and others provided a system of matching interests with one or more of six types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. He then matched these types with occupations. The results of your interest inventory are compared against the results of this study to see where you fit in — are your interests similar to those of a police officer or to those of an accountant?
A very popular interest inventory is the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), formerly known as the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory. The SII is administered by a career development professional, who also scores it, and interprets the results.