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Part I
What is Self-Assessment?
Self assessment is the first step of the career planning process. It is about gathering information about yourself in order to make an informed career decision. A comprehensive self assessment should include the following:
Interest inventories are the most frequently, of all the instruments, used in career planning. When you complete an interest inventory you are asked to answer a series of questions about the things you enjoy doing. Early research revealed that people in the same career (and satisfied in that career) had similar interests. 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 have become the modern day interest inventory.
Values inventories focus on what the individual feels are the most important aspects of work. Every person has a values set that needs to be reflected in a job for work to be fulfilling and rewarding. 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.
Many personality inventories used in career planning are based on a theory by psychologist Carl Jung. Career counselors often use results from tests based on Jungian Personality Theory to help clients choose careers. Career counselors contend that people of a particular personality type are better suited to certain careers. An example would be that an introvert would not do well in a career that required public speaking. However, personality alone shouldn't be used to predict whether you would succeed in a particular career. A personality inventory should be used in conjunction with other inventories, such as those that look at interests, values, and skills.
The most widely used definition of skills is based on Sidney Fine's research performed to support the development of the U.S. Department of Labor's "Dictionary of Occupational Titles. According to Fine, a skill is defined as the ability to perform an activity proficiently. The skill can be acquired through education, through work experience and job training, or it can be the result of an ability that you have had for years. Simply stated, skills can be learned, or they can be the result of natural abilities and talents, or having a special "know how" of "knack" for doing certain tasks. When deciding what field to enter, you need to determine the skills you possess. You should look at what you're good at, as well as, what you enjoy doing.
Types of Self-Assessments
Broadly speaking, self-assessments are classified as one of two general types. They are either Self-Driven or require Professional Interpretation.
An assessment is classified as self-driven if it does not require a licensed trained professional to interpret the results for you. All of the assessments in MCP fall into this category. However, you should never assume, that everything will be perfectly clear to you. If you have any questions about the results of a self-driven assessment, you should contact a licensed career counselor. Most counselors working in schools fall into this category. If a trained professional is not available to you - click here to learn more about what counselors do, and how to contact one.
Professional Interpretation:
An assessment of this nature requires a person licensed or trained in the particular tool so you can understand what the data is saying. Examples of instruments that fall into this category would be the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII).
One Additional Note
When going through the self assessment process it's important to take into account other things that may affect your career choice. For example, you should consider your ability to pay for education or training needed, the type of environment where you want to live, how much leisure time you want, etc. You should also remember that self assessment is the first step in the process, not the last. After completing this phase, the next step is to begin exploring the options you have before you. With your self assessment results in mind, you need to evaluate a variety of occupations to see if there's a match. Just because your self assessment indicates that a particular occupation matches your interests, skills, personality, or values, it doesn't mean it should be your choice. Similarly, just because your self assessment doesn't indicate that a particular occupation is appropriate, doesn't mean you should discount it entirely. You just need to do some more research.
Part II - Exploring Your Options
Part III - Creating A Plan
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