Self evaluation for career choices

Published: 28th April 2010
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If you are considering a career change the The big question is what career is the right one for you?

Before choosing your new career you need to think about yourself. Many people who are unhappy in their current careers don't really know what they want and what they can really do.

So, let's start off by looking at you...

What values are most important to you?

Your personal values are hugely important. They drive your behaviours and also have a massive influence on how you feel.

Take a piece of paper and write down those things that are important to you in any career (don't worry at this time about what that career might be).

Some examples to consider are:

Is a high salary important to you?

Is it important to you that you work with other people a lot?

Is it important that your work makes a contribution to society?

Is prestige important to you?

Is it important to you to have autonomy, or do you prefer to be told what you have to do?

Is it important for you to have flexibility in your working hours?

Is it important for you to have variety in what you do?

Be honest with yourself. There are no right or wrong answers, only those that are true for you.

If you really understand your values it will help you to make the best career choice possible, and to live a happy and successful life.

The next question is, what are your interests?

Do you have a hobby or hobbies?

Do you like to read books and if so what kind?

What types of TV and film do you enjoy?

What have all of these got to do with your career choices?

When considering your future career it's important to take your interests into account. Consider this. If you can follow your interests every day, and get paid for it, how great would going to work be? In fact would it feel like work at all?

Make a list of your interests. Score them according to how important they are to you and how much you enjoy each one. Keep the scoring simple, say a scale of 1-3 with 3 being the most important and enjoyable.

"But my most important and enjoyable interest is making home made jewellery for family and friends (or making home made pottery, or whatever it may be) and no one is going to employ me to do that."

Don't be too sure about that. There may be organisations out there that would be interested in employing you if your skills are high. Even if you can't find an employer there's always the possibility of going into business for yourself.

Many people dismiss this as an option because the thought of running their own business, and not having the 'security' of a regular pay day is just too scary. It doesn't have to be and it's even possible to start your own business alongside your current job in order to have the time to build it up before you rely on income from it.

OK. Now lets consider the final part of this. What skills do you have?

Your skills are an important part of who you are as well. If you have been working for a number of years you will likely have developed an impressive portfolio of skills that can be an asset to many organisations. The chances are you don't know what all of your skills are yourself so now is the time to really delve into what your skill set actually is.

Make up a table (use a spreadsheet or a piece of paper) with 4 columns. Head the columns JOB ROLE / ACTIVITY, SKILL, LEVEL and ENJOYMENT.

Now start of by thinking about your current job. What are the things that you do every day, every week, every month? In the first column write down the job role and the activity.

For example, if your current job is managing a customer call centre and one of the activities is dealing with customers who are unhappy with the service they have received from your team then you would record Call Centre Manager [job role] and Dealing with customer complaints [Activity]

Now consider the skills that you use to handle that activity. In the customer call centre role above some example skills could be

Conflict management


Financial management

Staff performance management

and so on.

Keep on going. Add as many skills to each activity as you can think of.

Then think back to previous jobs, go though the same process.

Then think about your personal life, what activities do you get involved in, what skills do you utilise.

Take plenty of time over this exercise. When you can't think of anything else to add put it down for a few hours, or even days, and then come back to it and see what else you can add.

OK. You should now have a list of skills that you use, or have used, in your career or in your personal life.

So, what about the other 2 columns?

In the level column score how good you are at that skill. Keep it fairly simple. A scale of 1-3 is probably enough. A score of 1 would be highly skilled, 2 would be moderately skilled and 3 would be needs development.

Be honest with yourself but be careful if being too critical. Most people undervalue their own skills.

And now for the final step in this process.

In the final column score the level to which you enjoy using these skills. Again keep it simple. A scale of 1-3 where score of 1 would be most enjoyable, 2 would be moderately enjoyable and 3 would be a necessary evil :-)

Now pull all of this together. You know what your values are, what's important to you. You have your interests listed and you have your skills documented included a skill level and how much you enjoy them.Now you have all of the information you need to start researching potential careers.

Good luck, and keep all of this work because it will come in really useful when you come to write a great CV.

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