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9. A different kind of career assessment for adults January 14, 2010

Posted by Lisa in All, Assessments.
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I mentioned yesterday that I fell into Career Assessment Hell.  But, I *did* find one site from a laundry list of Career Assessments that didn’t send me into fits.  Instead of talking of “transferable skills” and the like, it starts from the beginning (hmmmm, would that be the Moody Blues version or ELP?  Nevermind – songs stuck in my head).

This assessment makes no assumptions about what you’ve already done, but focuses on what you might like to do and be good at doing.

Very refreshing.

What you ponder about. There’s about 15 different exercises that focus on Interests, Abilities, Needs and Wants, What you want from a co-worker, What you want from a boss, etc.  Then they explore occupations based on your choices and start to corral them down into a short list to explore.

It also focuses on potential challenges and pitfalls for these occupational areas and asks how you will get more information to assess them.  It’s very open-ended, and allows you to ponder and muse as little or as much as you’d like.

While the questions were “easy,” I found it *very* challenging to avoid selecting items that were engineering-related.  To select what I LIKE rather than WHAT I’VE BEEN GOOD AT.

This is a Big Deal – considering a change in career can be scary, but this tool was disconnected enough from the other Assessments that it was easier to hear my “inside voice.”

… but then something caught my eye.  As I downloaded perhaps the 10th exercise, I noticed the page said, “download the … blank sheet for students.”  Students?  After a quick look, I realized this was an entire assessment program for kids in high school!  That’s why there’s no assumptions and baggage and stress associated with the exercises!  Ta da!   (See theACRN Career Decision-Making Tool.)

At first I felt duped, but you know what?  I think this is a great exercise – again, because it encourages you to shed your preconceived ideas about your wants and needs.

So to the results – Here is my Summary of Interests, Abilities, Wants and Needs.  All feels about right.

Here is my Evaluation Matrix. The “occupations” were selected from a separate matrix based on “Interests.” A ‘y’ in each cell means you feel the occupation meets your Interests/Abilities/Needs. Again, in trying to answer the questions honestly (and maybe I’m biased away from engineering right now after my last job), writing and creative arts ranked at the top. Although all within a few points of one another.

As I looked at the results, I noticed two things.

1) Speaking and mentoring didn’t show up.  I realize that was “lost” in the funneling because Artistic and Investigative ranked higher than Social (the corresponding “Interest” category for speaking and mentoring) because most of the other “Social” examples weren’t me.

2) My creative side *has* to be a part of my life and career.

Well, duh!

While I’m *really good* at pure engineering, it just doesn’t feel *full enough* for me anymore.  *shrugs*  More like forcing myself into a box if I have to sit and code in a cube all day long. But I DO like coding, just not all the time.

But but but!

Clearly, my career path involves some type of creativity around the engineering and science, rather than the pure execution of engineering activities. I’m dreaming about new and creative uses for technology, creating technology training programs, writing technical or non-technical works, and (and since professor is listed there and inside here) speaking about these topics to others.

So did I need this exercise to tell me something I already knew?  Well, yes.  Because sometimes your gut has a hard time telling your head what’s what.  And for the analytical engineers within us, sometimes a good 2×4 upside the head is what’s required to get the point across.

Compass Point – Suspend your assumptions and listen to your gut.  Your gut may end up being full of crap (sorry …) but the rest of you deserves to explore the ideas you’re hiding from yourself.

9 down, 351 to go.

Here is my Evaluation Matrix. The “occupations” were selected from a separate matrix based on “Interests.”  A ‘y’ in each cell is if you feel the occupation needs your Interests/Abilities/Needs.  Again, in trying to answer the questions honestly (and maybe I’m biased away from engineering right now after my last job), writing and creative arts ranked at the top.  Although all within a few points of one another.
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