Career Assessment

Career Assessment

When making career choices, a consultation with a psychologist can be of helpful in order to take the right steps in one’s further study and career. It is important to consider the goals behind a child’s further education or choice of secondary school much earlier than during the last primary school year. Detailed and effective career guidance can therefore provide crucial assistance. The tests used in these evaluations are effective tools in decision-making, because they provide an insight into our interests, needs and values, and how these are tied to specific professions or fields of study. Career assessment is a process of determining interests, skills, personality traits and values. A career assessment together with an evaluation focussed on these four areas will most likely allow you to discover the profession which suits you the most. Career assessments are comprised of an interview followed by working with various test batteries. However, these are not tests in the regular sense of the term – most of the methods have no correct or incorrect answers. The test results provide insight on the degree of relevancy of individual areas of professional interest. Based on these results it is them possible to make suggestions for future professional choices. To start with, it is good to consider several questions which point to the most appropriate solution for our situation:

Why do I want a career assessment?

The first thing we should consider is what we are trying to achieve through the career assessment. Career assessments are usually an appropriate method of: Gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves Expanding our awareness of career opportunities Providing support and guidance during our studies

What process should the career assessment support?

At the beginning of the decision-making process young people are often indecisive and have only a vague sense of what they can do and what profession they are most suited to. They are often confused not only by the future choice, but also unsure about their own personal strengths. A career assessment is intended to gradually lead a student to the optimum decision. A visual aid to the theoretical framework is the so-called career diamond (Andersen, 2006), which illustrates the decision-making process:

The career diamond represents a person starting at point “A”. At this stage they are already aware of the fact they will need to choose a profession in the future, or begin evaluating their career options.

The upper end of the diamond shows how our self-awareness and self-knowledge grow and direct us to point “C”, representing a choice or change. The lower part primarily represents our increased awareness of the options, which is then directed towards a specific decision.

The left side of the diamond is the exploring phase. During this exploring phase a person investigates their own self-concept while expanding their awareness of the professional world. The right side of the diamond is the integration phase, during which our self-concept and self-knowledge are connected to newly gained knowledge about careers:

The counsellor’s role:

A career counsellor can support a person in achieving individual steps:

    1. Gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves: Discovering and investigating the traits, preferences, interests, skills and abilities of the person.

    2. Integrating this awareness of the world into our self-concept: Linking various traits, preferences, interests, skills and abilities with specific professions, fields and opportunities.

A person’s professional journey may be understood as a series of interconnected diamonds which we traverse repeatedly.

What do I want a career assessment to help me find out?

During the evaluation of our career choices it is possible to uncover a number of factors which may influence our final decision. These factors are most often our interests, skills, personality traits, values, strengths and abilities.

Interests

Our interests are a primary factor in the area of education, personal and professional development, because they describe the state of positive preoccupation in which a person enjoys working and learning. It has been shown that 25–30% of our output is based purely on our interests. These interests are significant, because they increase both our enjoyment as well as the resulting productivity.

Finding out what a person’s interests are is therefore crucial in choosing a career. If I’m working on something I find interesting, I can often carry out my work with intense concentration, sometimes called “flow” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997; Krapp, 2002; Psychology Today, 1997). Simply put, when we enjoy our work, we feel as if time passes quicker while at the same time, we are more productive.

When people are interested in their given field we can observe:

  • Good feelings about the results of their efforts

  • Better concentration

  • Willingness to learn

Personality traits

Personality traits can be understood as tendencies to certain habitual behaviours, learning, preferences and emotional patterns. Various theoretical approaches are used to deal with different personality traits. For instance, a common approach in psychology is the so-called Big Five personality assessment, which evaluates the primal and culturally universal areas of personality traits which are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (John & Srivastava, 1999). Some theories make use of a larger number of basic traits, but common to all these approaches is the principle that the traits described relate to how people approach different situations and themselves, i.e. what is their decision-making process.

Values

Values tend to be used to describe the things a person appreciates in the workplace or their life in general. We may for instance value work-life balance or helping other people. The best time to discover this is during the process of deepening our own self-awareness. Values are also important in order to evaluate how well we would fit into a certain company or organisation, because we will feel the best in an environment that values the same things as we do.

Strengths

Our strengths are characterised as existing, natural or intuitive behaviours, thought-processes or feelings where we excel and which motivate us. Someone who enjoys sifting through data could for instance have analytical thinking as their strength. Discovering our strengths is a great way to improve our self-awareness and can play a significant role in uniting our self-concept with the possibilities on the job market.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a common term in the field of business or in leadership positions, where it is important to fully develop the following five skills or characteristics: self-awareness (knowledge of the self), self-regulation, empathy, motivation and social awareness. In general terms, emotional intelligence may be described as the ability to understand and regulate our own emotions, to understand and empathise with the emotions of others. The methods used during a career orientation assessment often provide information about the abovementioned aspects of emotional intelligence.

Various kinds of emotional intelligence are of different importance for different professions. Social awareness is for instance a crucial aspect of any successful salesperson or sales representative, but will likely be less important for a software developer.

References:

Andersen, P. (2006). The Career Diamond: A Teaching Tool Illustrating The Process Of Career Counseling. Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/resources/library/VISTAS/vistas06_online-only/Andersen.pdf

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). The masterminds series. Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York, NY, US: Basic Books.

Grant, A. M. (2013). Rethinking the extraverted sales ideal: The ambivert advantage. Psychological Science24(6), 1024-1030.

Guruge, M. (2018). A career counselor’s guide to career assessment. Retrieved from https://awato.org/career-assessment-guide/

John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big-Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (Vol. 2, pp. 102–138). New York: Guilford Press.

Krapp, A. (2002). Structural and dynamic aspects of interest development: Theoretical considerations from an ontogenetic perspective. Learning and Instruction12(4), 383-409.

Psychology Today (1997). Finding Flow: Reviews the book ‘Finding Flow,’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/articles/199707/finding-flo