Assess Yourself – But Be Yourself
From Career Services - June 29, 2012
Perhaps when you began to think about what you wanted to do “when you grew up” you visited your high school counselor, or your advisor in college. And typically, they may have suggested that you take some sort of assessment to help you determine your interests, skills, or personality type. In fact, on our own SPH “Start Your Job Search” page, Step One is to “assess your own values.” But what does this mean exactly, and why is it important?
As used in career counseling, doing a self-assessment means identifying your own values, skills, strengths, and work criteria to help you determine what type of career makes most sense for YOU. It is important because all too often, people decide on a career path because it was encouraged by their parents, or because they are in competition with their siblings, or even because it will “guarantee” them a good salary. When criteria like these are used in choosing a career path, the only guarantee is that the person will likely end up feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. On the other hand, when you opt to pursue a career that is in alignment with your values, and in which you can capitalize on your strengths and skills, not only are you more likely to feel fulfilled, but you are also more likely be successful.
It is important to realize, however, that assessments are merely a tool in helping you articulate what you probably already know about yourself. All too often, it is tempting for people to see the results of an assessment and think they won’t succeed in their chosen career because the assessment indicates they would be a good “X” when they want to be a “Y”. Or the assessment designates them as having a strength in one particular area, and they assume they will never have the ability to do well in an area where they showed less interest aptitude. The lesson here is to first pay attention to your own instincts about yourself, and then allow assessments to support what you already know and the choices you are making, or to provide another perspective as a way to develop and grow.
Most importantly, know that every one of us have different gifts, strengths, values, and preferences. There are no right or wrong responses or outcomes with assessments. In the words of e.e. cummings, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”