By Sharon Fleshman
Whether you are exploring careers, conducting a job search, or contemplating a career change, self-assessment can energize the process. Begin by reflecting on your previous jobs, projects and activities. Don’t limit yourself to the experiences which seem most related to your immediate career goals. Try to move beyond occupations and job titles. Take a look at your resume or CV and go line by line. Identify where you made the most impact and what gave you the greatest sense of fulfillment.
Next, you’ll want to pinpoint skills that emerge from these experiences. Chances are that these skills can transfer to a variety of career options. For example, research skills could be applied to meaningful work in any number of areas such as academia, program evaluation for a non-profit, or marketing research for a corporation.
In addition to skills, think about what you valued in past experiences in which you found meaning and success. Identifying your work values will help you to consider the work environment which is the best fit for you. In other words, you could perform the same job in two different settings but find that you thrive much more in one setting than the other. What about your interests? Perhaps they would provide clues as to what’s next on your career path. It may be that you decide to try out some career options by way of internships, volunteer work, or short-term projects to tease out all of this information. There’s nothing quite like hands-on experience to provide a fresh perspective.
Finally, you will need to consider the current priorities in your life and how they relate to your job search. Are you willing to relocate or do personal commitments limit your geographical options? How do your immediate financial needs affect your choices?
You will find that self-assessment not only helps you identify potential career paths, but prepares you for next steps in the job search. Your networking meetings will be more focused and fruitful because you have done your homework. Your resumes, cover letters, and interviews will be more compelling because you have taken a thorough inventory of what energizes you, what matters to you, and what you have to offer.
In addition to our Career Discovery webpages, there are a number of tools and inventories that can help you facilitate the self-assessment process. As always, Career Services advisors are available to provide guidance as well. Enjoy your summer!