I recently wrote on Career Assessments and Career Happiness. In it I explained that the trouble with many of these assessments are that there is no personal involvement or inner process that involve an individual seeking guidance in the results other than checking yes or no to a question – or another limited response.
I recently had an “aha” moment with a client who was in the process of identifying the top skills she feels compelled to use in her ideal career. The first skill she identified as being the most important in the work she is “using creativity.”
During this conversation, she mentioned that she had taken a number of assessments that all came up with careers like military, police officer, government worker, etc. She quickly dismissed this information, and was offered no guidance or exploration whatsoever as to why these areas kept coming up for her. She could not feel the connection between her own desires for a job she loved and these types of careers. I decided to explore this a bit with her. Why indeed did these careers keep coming up?
When we talked about what creativity meant to her, she said that it meant that she could independently create what and how she chose to do her work. Our conversations then turned to how jobs such as police officer, positions in the military and government are fairly structured and have procedures that are clear and that others are others are expected to follow. With that insight, she stated that she really enjoys writing policies and procedures for organizations and prefers a fair amount of structure in her work. However, she noted that she was reluctant to “own” this very useful skill, because it seemed she was concerned more about what others would think it “mundane.” It is possible that there are few of us who would thoroughly enjoy using this skill in our work, but the good news is that she is indeed one of them! Of course, I pointed out that there is NEVER anything mundane about using skills we love to use in our work – it can virtually make the time fly by so fast we lose track of everything.
In fact, how cool would it be to follow the procedures and policies written by someone who saw the process as creative, fulfilling, fun and important. As my client pointed out, this material is often written by people who truly don’t enjoy this type of activity. But when I think of the people, employees and those they serve who would benefit from policies and procedures written by someone who gets a kick out of writing them, the chances are there will be less resistance and even perhaps more joy in following them.
To summarize, the career assessment that my client took (or series of assessments) to help her identify the best career direction was finally useful when she was able to look beyond the job titles and see the patterns that lead her to identify writing policies and procedures as the number two skill she would have to have in her next career. Up to this point she dismissed the results of career assessments that had been taken quite a while ago. Therefore, if assessments are not utilized as talking points and instead are taken at face value, the results can be disastrous.
Keep in mind also that she is now fully engaged in an introspective process, and this information is becoming an important piece of the puzzle that is now allowing her to free up self-critical thoughts and build confidence in moving forward.
The tools that many of us choose to use to assist in developing a career direction are just that – tools. However, if these tools are not used in conjunction with a full on interactive process and fully explored, the information can be easily dismissed or could even create barriers to understanding ones most important next steps toward career happiness.