In a difficult economic climate, many individuals are being forced to either switch industries or careers completely. They may not be happy about it, but feel they have no choice.
Others are considering a career reinvention because they are burned out in their current role, or because they have a desire to find more meaningful and fulfilling work.
In either case, career reinvention is a complicated process (meaning it takes time) and requires a serious commitment to self-assessment before you can determine a strategy to execute.
In this article, I’ll discuss the concept of self-assessment and why it is so important, as well as some questions for you to ponder as you begin this process.
What is Self-Assessment? Why is it so Important?
Many people have never taken the time to evaluate their skills, values, interests, and other parameters that are important to their life and work. Often, they have gone from college to work, taking on role after role, and never assessing what makes them happy. It is only when they find themselves miserable, frustrated, and unhappy that they begin to question everything. It is at this moment that career self-exploration is so important. Before you can change careers, you have to go back to the basics ‘ knowing who you are, and mapping out a strategy for a transition.
This is where self-exploration comes in; it is an activity in which you step back from your busy schedule and delve inside to better understand yourself. It is usually one of the first steps (and in my mind, the most important one) in career reinvention. It is a process by which you gather information, such as skills, strengths, interests, personal brand, communication style, to make a more informed career decision.
Why is Assessment Important?
When you slow down and look inside, you begin to get in touch with a part of yourself that cannot be tapped during the busy lives we lead. A period of self-reflection can:
- Help you learn more about yourself — explore your interests, skills and strengths, career and life values, career motivators, behavioral and communication style — so that you can make better career decisions.
- Help you brainstorm options for a new career or work situation that will be better suited to you.
- Help you understand how you behave in certain situations, and how your behavior can enhance or help derail your success.
- Enhance your self-esteem as you begin to explore and see your unique skills and contributions.
- Help you understand what differentiates you from others so you can more effectively market your career brand.
What are the Parameters to Assess?
During the self-assessment phase, you may want to consider evaluating all or some of the following:
- Behavioral style
- Personal brand
- Entrepreneurial propensity
- Leadership profile
- Work-life balance
Here are the parameters that are ideal to start with:
Understanding your values is probably the most important of the assessment parameters. Why? Because values touch the core of who we are, why we work, and what we hope to get out of our work. A mismatch between your values and those of the organization for which you work mostly likely will lead to career dissatisfaction. A poor fit in values may be the reason you are considering career reinvention.
Here are two questions to ponder:
- What is important to you in your life and career? Achievement? Work-life balance? High salary? Giving back to the community? Time for hobbies? Try to rank order the list to see which values come out on top.
- What motivates you and is important to you?
Interests and Passions
Finding what you are interested in and passionate about will most likely will lead to enjoyment. Reflect on your past and the things you have enjoyed? What activities do you currently love?
- Do you enjoy working with people, data, or things?
- Are you more of a thinker or do you prefer creative expression?
- Do you like to build organizations? More of a doer or individual contributor?
- Do any particular industries attract you?
Skills are important to identifying the right work function — the tasks at which you can succeed and be the happiest.
It is important to make a distinction between the skills you are good at and those you are good at and enjoy. The latter, called “motivated skills,” typically lead to career satisfaction and should be central to your focus in career transition.
Here are some skills questions to think about:
- In your past roles, what have you enjoyed the most?
- Which skills did you like the least?
- Which activities, when you do them, stress you out or depress you?
- Do you prefer to use a few skill areas and be a specialist in one career option?
- Do you like to use a broad variety of skills and be more of a generalist?
- What strengths do you bring to the workplace?
Final Thoughts on Career Reinvention
I hope this article helps you better understand the complexity or career reinvention and highlights some useful data for launching your own transition.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
This article is part of Job Action Day.
Randi Bussin, CCMC, CPBS, MBA, is a Career Reinvention Strategist and holds the Reach Certified Personal Brand and Online Identity designations. The founder of Aspire!, she partners with successful individuals, helping them find more meaningful work while reigniting the passion that has dimmed professionally. She guides them to a renewed sense of direction, an actionable career reinvention, and a personal branding plan. Reinvention can be a new career, a role more aligned to values, an entrepreneurial pursuit based upon a passion, or a retirement game plan. Randi has changed careers twice, working in high tech, higher education, and is a serial entrepreneur. Learn more. She has an MBA from INSEAD and an MA from Tufts University.
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