Table of contents

Self-Assessment Before a Career Change
Career Change

Know Yourself, Know Your Career: Pre-Career-Change Self-Assessment

Considering a career change? Before you dive in, self-assessment is crucial. This article guides you through exploring your strengths and finding the perfect fit.

Nelson Marteleira
July 5, 2024

Thinking about a career change? You're not alone. Switching careers is more common than ever in today's competitive job market. A career change can offer new opportunities, challenges, and a chance to align work with personal passions. However, making such a significant shift is not a decision to be taken lightly. This is where self-assessment becomes crucial.

Self-assessment serves as the foundation for making informed career decisions. It involves thoroughly evaluating your strengths, interests, values, and skills. The primary purpose of assessing yourself is to gain clarity. It helps identify what drives you, what you excel at, and what you find fulfilling. 

This clarity is essential for making strategic career moves that are not only satisfying but also sustainable in the long run, ensuring that your new path aligns with who you are and what you truly want.

This article serves as a comprehensive guide to conducting a self-assessment. By following this guide you will be able to identify your strengths, interests, and values, setting the stage for a successful and fulfilling career change. Let's dive in.

Core Components of Self-Assessment

Identifying your skills and strengths

When considering a career change, identifying your skills and strengths is a critical step. 

🛠️ Transferable skills are those abilities and competencies that are applicable across various jobs and industries. These include skills like communication, leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork. 

🛠️ Technical skills, on the other hand, are specific to particular fields or roles, such as coding for software development or accounting for finance.

A few example of transferable skills

Recognizing these skills is essential because they form the foundation of your professional capabilities. Transferable skills make you adaptable and versatile, while technical skills ensure you meet the specific requirements of your desired new role.

Here are some effective resources and exercises to help identify your strengths and accomplishments:

1. Skill Inventory

  • Create a comprehensive list of all the tasks you’ve performed in your previous roles;
  • Categorize these tasks into transferable and technical skills;
  • Reflect on which skills you enjoyed using the most and which yielded the best results.

2. SWOT Analysis

  • Conduct a personal SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats);
  • Identify your internal strengths and weaknesses;
  • Consider external opportunities that align with your strengths and how your weaknesses might impact your career change.

3. Feedback from Peers

  • Seek feedback from colleagues, mentors, and supervisors about your strengths and accomplishments;
  • Use this feedback to gain an objective view of your abilities and how others perceive your contributions.

Exploring your interests and passions

Aligning your career with your passions and interests is crucial for long-term motivation and job satisfaction. When your work resonates with what you love, it becomes more than just a job: it becomes a source of fulfillment and energy. Pursuing a career that aligns with your interests ensures that you remain engaged, driven, and resilient in the face of challenges.

As research by Gallup shows: employees who work in roles that align with their strengths and interests are 6 times more likely to be engaged at work: 

“People who focus on their strengths every day are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs, more productive and more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life."
When interests and skills align you feel passion for your job

Exercises to identify intrinsic motivators and preferred work environment

1. Passion Inventory:

  • List activities or topics that you are passionate about, both professionally and personally;
  • Reflect on why these activities matter to you and how they make you feel;
  • Consider how these passions can be integrated into a career path.

2. Ideal Workday Visualization:

  • Imagine your ideal workday from start to finish. What tasks are you performing? Who are you working with? Where are you working?
  • Write down the specifics of this ideal workday to uncover your preferred work environment and job characteristics.

3. Motivational Drivers:

  • Reflect on what motivates you the most: recognition, financial rewards, personal growth, making a difference, or creative freedom;
  • Rank these drivers in order of importance to determine what factors will keep you motivated in a new career.

4. Interest Mapping:

  • Create a mind map of your interests, branching out from broad categories (e.g., technology, education, healthcare) to specific niches (e.g., AI development, teaching, nursing);
  • Identify common themes and potential career paths that align with multiple interests.

Simon Sinek, author of "Start With Why," emphasizes, "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion." This highlights the difference in motivation levels when pursuing a career aligned with one's interests.

Aligning with your values

Identifying your core values is a vital component of self-assessment, especially when considering a career change. Core values represent your fundamental beliefs and guiding principles. They influence your decisions, behavior, and satisfaction in life and work. 

Finding a career that reflects your ethical principles ensures alignment between your professional life and personal integrity, leading to greater fulfillment and consistency in your actions.

Core values represent your fundamental beliefs and guiding principles

In fact, a report by Deloitte found that executives believe that a strong sense of purpose and values contribute to overall business success:

“Employees who truly experience purpose in their daily work show higher levels of motivation and trust towards their employer”.

This underscores the significance of aligning personal values with professional roles, as it not only enhances individual satisfaction but also drives organizational success.

Examples of work values and their influence on Career Choices

1. Creativity:

  • Careers in arts, design, marketing, and innovation sectors thrive on creativity. If you value creativity, consider roles that allow for artistic expression, problem-solving, and out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Example: A graphic designer or a marketing strategist benefits from environments where innovative ideas are encouraged and valued.

2. Collaboration:

  • If you value collaboration, seek careers that emphasize teamwork, communication, and collective effort. Roles in project management, human resources, and education often require strong collaborative skills.
  • Example: A project manager in a tech company works closely with cross-functional teams to achieve project goals, ensuring everyone’s contributions are valued and integrated.

3. Innovation:

  • Careers that prioritize innovation often involve research and development, technology, and entrepreneurial ventures. If you value innovation, look for roles that encourage continuous improvement and creative solutions.
  • Example: A software developer or an entrepreneur thrives in settings that push the boundaries of conventional thinking and embrace new technologies.

4. Helping Others:

  • If you are driven by a desire to help others, careers in healthcare, social work, counseling, and non-profit organizations might be a good fit. These roles focus on making a positive impact on individuals and communities.
  • Example: A social worker or a nurse plays a crucial role in improving the well-being of others, providing support and care to those in need.

5. Stability:

  • For those who value stability, careers in government, finance, and large corporations may offer the security and predictability they seek. These roles often come with clear structures, steady income, and long-term prospects.
  • Example: An accountant or a government employee enjoys a stable work environment with well-defined responsibilities and expectations.

6. Autonomy:

  • If autonomy is important to you, consider careers that offer independence and self-direction, such as freelancing, consulting, or remote work. These roles provide the flexibility to manage your schedule and work environment.
  • Example: A freelance writer or a consultant has the freedom to choose projects, set their own hours, and work from anywhere.

As Peter Drucker, a renowned management consultant, said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Aligning your career with your core values is about doing the right things for your personal and professional growth.

Considering your lifestyle preferences

Lifestyle preferences play a significant role in career decisions, impacting overall satisfaction and well-being. Factors such as work-life balance, desired income, and location are crucial to consider when evaluating potential career paths. These preferences influence not only your professional life but also your personal happiness and quality of life.

🤸 Work-Life Balance

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is essential for reducing stress and preventing burnout. Careers that offer flexible hours, remote work options, or generous leave policies can contribute to a better balance between professional responsibilities and personal life.

Example: Careers in tech companies often provide flexible work schedules, allowing employees to balance work with personal commitments effectively.

💰 Desired Income:

Financial stability and desired income levels are important considerations. Understanding your financial needs and goals helps in choosing a career that meets these requirements, ensuring that you can maintain your preferred lifestyle.

Example: High-income careers in finance, law, or medicine might be suitable for those who prioritize financial growth and stability.

🌍 Location:

The location of your job can significantly impact your lifestyle. Consider whether you prefer working in a bustling city, a quiet suburb, or even remotely. The cost of living, commuting time, and proximity to family and friends are also vital factors.

Example: Remote work options have expanded significantly, allowing professionals to live in their preferred locations without being tied to a specific office.

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is essential for reducing stress and preventing burnout

Assessing your priorities and desired work-life balance

To make informed career decisions, it is essential to assess your priorities and desired work-life balance. Here are some prompts and exercises to help you evaluate these factors:

  1. Priority List:
    • Create a list of your top priorities in life, such as family, health, hobbies, financial stability, or career growth;
    • Rank these priorities to understand what matters most to you and how your career choices can support these aspects.
  2. Lifestyle Audit:
    • Conduct a lifestyle audit by reflecting on your current daily routine and how it aligns with your ideal lifestyle;
    • Identify areas where you feel satisfied and areas where you want to make changes, such as reducing work hours or increasing leisure time.
  3. Income Needs Analysis:t
    • Calculate your current and projected financial needs, including expenses, savings, and long-term goals;
    • Use this analysis to determine the minimum income required to support your desired lifestyle and how different career options meet these needs.
  4. Geographic Preferences:
    • Reflect on your preferred living environment. Do you thrive in an urban setting with cultural amenities, or do you prefer the tranquility of rural areas?
    • Consider the impact of your job location on your lifestyle, including commute times, housing costs, and access to recreational activities.
  5. Work Environment Preferences:
    • Think about the type of work environment that suits you best. Do you prefer a collaborative office setting, a dynamic and fast-paced workplace, or the independence of remote work?
    • Assess how different career options align with these preferences.

Conducting a Self-Assessment

Conducting a thorough self-assessment involves several steps to help you understand your strengths, interests, values, and lifestyle preferences. This process will guide you toward making informed and fulfilling career decisions.

🎭 Self-Assessment Tools and Personality Tests

Online self-assessment tools and personality tests are great starting points for understanding your professional profile. While these tools shouldn't be seen as definitive answers, they can provide valuable insights.

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This widely-used personality test helps identify your personality type, strengths, and preferences.
  • StrengthsFinder: This tool highlights your top strengths and how you can leverage them in your career.
  • SkillScan: A comprehensive tool that assesses your transferable skills.
  • Holland Code (RIASEC): This test categorizes you into six career interest areas, guiding you toward compatible career paths.

✍ Journaling and Exercises

Journaling is an effective method for self-reflection. It allows you to delve deeper into your thoughts and experiences, helping you gain clarity about your career aspirations. Here are some detailed journaling prompts and exercises to help you with self-reflection:

Journaling Prompts:

  • "What activities make me lose track of time because I enjoy them so much?"
  • "What are my proudest professional achievements and why?"
  • "What kind of work environment makes me feel energized and productive?"
  • "What values are most important to me in my professional life?"
  • "What are my top five strengths and how have I demonstrated them in my career?"

Exercises:

  • Weekly Reflection: Dedicate time each week to reflect on your professional experiences, noting what you enjoyed and what you found challenging.
  • Vision Board: Create a vision board that represents your ideal career and lifestyle. Include images, quotes, and words that inspire you and align with your goals.
  • Career Timeline: Map out a timeline of your career, noting significant milestones, achievements, and moments of satisfaction. Identify patterns and recurring themes.

How to create a career vision board

👨‍💼Informational Interviews with Professionals in Target Career Fields

Informational interviews are an invaluable way to gain firsthand insights into potential career paths. They provide an opportunity to learn about the realities of a profession, network with industry insiders, and get advice on transitioning into a new field.

Follow these steps to conduct informational interviews:

  1. Identify Contacts: Use LinkedIn, professional associations, and personal networks to find professionals in your target career field.
  2. Request an Interview: Reach out via email or LinkedIn, expressing your interest in learning more about their career path and experiences.
  3. Prepare Questions: Develop a list of questions to ask during the interview, focusing on their career journey, job responsibilities, industry trends, and advice for newcomers.
  4. Conduct the Interview: Approach the interview with curiosity and professionalism. Take notes and ask follow-up questions.
  5. Follow-up: Send a thank-you note expressing appreciation for their time and insights. Maintain the connection for future networking opportunities.

Best questions to ask in informal interviews

Leveraging Your Self-Assessment for Career Planning

After conducting a thorough self-assessment, the next step is to leverage your findings to identify potential career paths that align with your strengths, interests, and values. This alignment ensures that your career choices are not only fulfilling but also sustainable in the long term.

3 steps to leverage your findings and identify potential career paths

1. Identify Career Paths That Align with Your Strengths

  • Analyze Your Skills: Look at the list of transferable and technical skills you've identified. Research careers that require these skills.some text
    • Example: If you have strong analytical and problem-solving skills, careers in data analysis, engineering, or finance might be suitable.
  • Match Strengths to Roles: Consider roles that play to your strengths. For example, if you excel in leadership, look for management or executive positions.

2. Align Career Paths with Your Interests

  • Passion Projects: Reflect on your passion inventory and think about how these interests can translate into a career.some text
    • Example: If you are passionate about environmental conservation, consider careers in environmental science, policy, or non-profit organizations dedicated to sustainability.
  • Interest Areas: Use the interest mapping exercise to identify industries and roles that align with multiple interests, ensuring a broader range of satisfying career options.

3. Ensure Career Paths Reflect Your Values

  • Values Assessment: Refer to your core values and ensure that potential careers align with these principles.some text
    • Example: If you value helping others, careers in healthcare, social work, or education might be a good fit.
  • Work Environment: Consider work environments that match your values, such as companies known for innovation, collaboration, or work-life balance.


Career Research and Exploration

Career research and exploration involve delving deeper into potential career paths to understand their requirements, opportunities, and challenges. This process includes:

  • Researching Job Descriptions: Look at job postings to understand the skills, qualifications, and responsibilities of roles that interest you;
  • Exploring Industry Trends: Stay informed about trends and developments in your target industries to identify growing fields and emerging opportunities;
  • Networking: Connect with professionals in your desired field to gain insights and advice.
Career exploration is a continuous process that can help you find potential career paths

Using Your Self-Assessment as a Roadmap

Your self-assessment results serve as a personalized roadmap for further exploration and decision-making. Here’s how to use this roadmap effectively:

  • Set Clear Goals: Based on your self-assessment, set specific career goals that align with your strengths, interests, and values;
  • Create an Action Plan: Develop a step-by-step plan to achieve these goals. This could include gaining new skills, seeking mentorship, or transitioning into a new role gradually;
  • Stay Flexible: Be open to adjusting your plans as you gather more information and experience. Career planning is an ongoing process, and flexibility ensures you can adapt to new opportunities.

Embarking on a career change is a significant journey. Your self-assessment is the first step, providing you with clarity and direction. Use it as a foundation for deeper research, exploration, and ultimately, making well-informed career decisions that lead to professional and personal satisfaction.

Conclusion

Self-assessment is a crucial step in navigating a successful career change. By understanding your strengths, interests, values, and lifestyle preferences, you can make informed decisions that lead to a fulfilling and sustainable career path

Embrace the journey of self-discovery and career exploration. Use self-assessment as a guide to uncover new opportunities and as a roadmap, guiding you through the complexities of career transitions with confidence and purpose. Remember, a fulfilling career is within reach when you align your work with who you truly are.

Embark on this journey with optimism and determination. Your ideal career path is out there, waiting to be discovered.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nelson Marteleira

Nelson is the co-founder NoCode Institute. He is an experienced NoCode specialist and developer with a solid portfolio. Nelson helps bring ideas to reality.

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