Tools & Resources
The Value of Self-Assessments
Andy Chan, MBA '88
"Self-assessment" can be a misleading word. It implies that I can "assess" or evaluate myself and with this information, I can determine the best career path for me. By using an assessment of some kind, the process is supposed to be easy and straightforward. However, it's just not that easy.
Positive Things About Assessments
- They provide appropriate terminology and a proven framework for how to think about the factors that drive career fit. For example, in CareerLeader, an assessment program for MBAs and business people, the general framework is that Business Core Interests, Work Reward Values, and Motivation Skills are the three factors that drive work fulfillment and satisfaction. Once you understand the framework, your decision-making can be more structured and thoughtful based on proven career development theory.
- They provide you rich data and information about yourself. With this information, you confirm what you know about yourself and sometimes you are given new information that is worthy of reflection and consideration.
- They offer new ideas and options for careers and occupations that you may not have considered. You may or may not like the options offered. But when you're searching for a job that will bring you satisfaction, it's good to know that there's not just one perfect job for you.
Problems with Assessments
- Some are not valid. Some can be fun and interesting, but do not have any basis in scientific research or validation. Be careful in basing your career on something that's plain wrong.
- Some do not provide anything more than an "answer." It's not very helpful to you when it feels like you are putting information into a black box and you have no idea how the results were generated. Understanding "why" a job is a good fit for you is more important than knowing "what" job is a good fit for you.
- Even though self-assessments are designed to be done by yourself, it's most beneficial to review your results with a trained counselor who can help you understand your results and incorporate your real-life experiences into the analysis.
Words of Advice
- Don't expect a self-assessment to give you an answer to the question, "What job should I take to find maximum job satisfaction and success?" An assessment provides good options for you to consider and learn more about. The combination of the information from the assessment, your research and informational interviewing, and your personal evaluation of the career options will lead you to the work that best fits you.
- Be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Sometimes an assessment will recommend a career that you have already experienced and you have no intention to pursue again. Don't then dismiss the entire assessment. There is still valuable information worth your consideration. I feel that the greatest value of the assessment is in the parts, not the sum of the parts.
- Save the assessment results. Perhaps you didn't like the assessment or the results. Whatever your thoughts today, you might have a different perspective tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. And these results may have more meaning then. Save your investment. The big payoff just may be a little way down the road.
I personally think that valid self-assessments are quite valuable. Take the time to understand what the assessment will really provide you and if it is valid. Try to review the results with a trained counselor to get the full value of the time you invested to complete the assessment.
The real value of a good self-assessment lies in your gaining self-knowledge, which is the foundation for strategic career management. Self-knowledge will enable you to make optimal choices throughout your career: about a new job and company, changing careers, about projects and roles, as well as the people and teams you work with.
To develop greater self-knowledge, take a look at the Self-Reflection Questionnaire. By answering and considering those questions (especially with a career counselor, executive coach, or someone with an objective perspective), you will have a starting point for what kind of work and environments best fit you and will bring you the most fulfillment and satisfaction.
Self-Assessments Worth Checking Out
- CareerLeader - Used by top business schools and corporations. Includes rich and deep information about a wide range of business careers. $75 for 60-day subscription. http://www.careerleader.com
- Strong Interest Inventory - Measures your level of interest in occupational areas, activities, academic subjects, and work environments and compares them with those of working professionals in a wide variety of occupations. Price varies: approximately $65-$80, includes phone counseling session. http://www.careers-by-design.com/strong_interest_inventory.asp or http://www.discoveryourpersonality.com/aboutstrong.html
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) - Widely used and accepted personality test. Great for understanding how to relate with others. Not as applicable to career fit, but it can provide information regarding work environments and careers that are a better fit or ones that may be challenging for you. Approximately $70-$80, includes phone counseling session. http://www.careers-by-design.com/mbti.asp or http://www.discoveryourpersonality.com/MBTI.html