Switching careers is a major life change. Before leaping into a new career, it’s important to understand exactly what you hope to gain or change by switching to a different position.
By reflecting on your values, goals, and motives through self-assessment, you can develop the personal awareness needed to make an informed decision for your future. Self-assessment also allows you to audit your characteristics and skills to identify any key areas of growth you want to develop to thrive in your new career. Taking the time to do a thoughtful and thorough self-assessment will help you thoroughly prepare for this life change and set yourself up for success.
What Is a Self-Assessment?
A self-assessment is an activity or exercise for evaluating various personal and professional characteristics. The self-assessment process can include informal reflection and thought exercises or formal assessment tests. Here are some common examples of formal self-assessment tools that you may use when preparing for a career transition:
Personality tests: Personality self-assessments help you discover how you think, feel, and interact with others. They can share valuable information about your values and temperament.
Interest profiles: These assessments identify your interests and passions, then help match those interests with potential career options.
Skills inventories: By reflecting on your skills, you can identify strengths and potential areas for improvement that you can apply to your next career.
Benefits of Self-Assessments for Career Transitions
According to a Harvard Business Review study, most people believe that they’re self-aware, but only 10 to 15% of people actually exhibit self-awareness. Your career is a major part of your day-to-day life, so it’s worthwhile to take the time to develop some extra insight and self-awareness in this area before making a change.
You may want to leave a job for many reasons, such as workplace culture, salary, or career satisfaction. By investing in self-assessment, you can ensure that you’re truly improving your situation and finding a career that you love instead of making a lateral move from one unfulfilling role to another. Here are some of the main benefits of self-assessments when switching careers.
Considering New Perspectives
When starting your career change journey, you may already have an idea of which new career you want to pursue, or you may simply be looking for a change of pace. Regardless of your plans, taking self-assessments can provide you with new ideas and perspectives on your potential job change. They may bring up questions about how well your chosen career path aligns with your skills and long-term goals.
Self-assessment tools may provide you with suggestions for career paths that you hadn’t considered before, allowing you to explore jobs that closely match your vision for the future. Conversely, they can help you develop more confidence in your choice.
Aligning Aptitudes With Passions
Self-assessments provide you with useful data that can help you align your skills with your interests. Even if you already have a general idea of the type of career change you want to make, self-assessment tools can help you hone into specific roles that are a good entry point for your desired career.
For example, you may be interested in the art world and want to switch to a career that focuses on that passion. By taking holistic self-assessments, you can learn about how your existing skills, experience, and strengths intersect with various art careers.
Identifying Skill Gaps
If you’re already fully committed to a certain new career path, self-assessments can highlight gaps in your skillset, helping you understand how to best prepare for the switch and strengthen your job applications. Assessment tools can identify which competencies you should improve before applying to jobs in your desired field. This empowers you to focus on the most relevant professional development courses, certifications, or training programs for your new role.
Highlighting Transferable Skills
When changing careers, your transferable skills are a major asset. Completing skill inventories helps you identify your major strengths and which of those could potentially transfer to your new career. You may discover additional skills that can transfer to other careers you weren’t previously aware of.
Based on this information, you can refine your resume and determine the best way to discuss your professional experience in an interview. When you have a high level of self-awareness regarding your transferable skills, you can guide the conversation in interviews toward the relevance and benefit of those skills.
Understanding Culture Fit
Self-assessments can also help you align your working style with different types of workplace environments, helping you understand what to look for in terms of company culture. By summarizing key information about your personality, core beliefs, and ways of interacting, these assessments can help you identify workplace cultures where you can fully thrive.
Solidifying Your Goals
Self-assessments allow you to reflect on how your career change supports your long-term goals. They encourage you to be thoughtful about your priorities and determine the importance of different personal, professional, and financial goals. These exercises can help you define your core values as a professional, which you can then use to guide your job search and evaluate all potential opportunities. You can use your self-assessment data to create measurable, achievable objectives for making a career change.
Assessing Your Growth
By taking self-assessments before a career change, you create a benchmark that you can use as a point of comparison in the future. If you regularly perform self-assessments after your career change, you can compare the outcomes to track your growth and identify any evolutions in your skills or professional values. This allows you to determine if your interests or goals have changed, helping you tailor your career development to the most authentic version of yourself.
Conducting thorough research before a career transition allows you to be fully prepared for the challenges and opportunities in your new role. Self-assessments help you study and explore your own perspective, which is just as important as gathering information about prospective employers or researching job duties.
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