Given the dynamic nature of today’s working world, where options seem endless, and possibilities for careers exist that never did before, feeling uncertain about where you want your career to go is only natural. When trying to sort through these feelings, Dr. Jessica Londei-Shortall, Organizational Psychologist at Optimum Talent says there are generally 3 steps towards gaining clarity with your career. These three steps include understanding yourself, understanding the job market, and finding the fit between the two. Let’s dig deeper into each of these three areas to help you build clarity!
Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” While this might seem obvious, knowing yourself and your intrinsic motivators, is often overlooked when people consider what careers might suit them. Rather than depending on what pays well, or what jobs social norms dictate as acceptable, it’s important to rely on your self-awareness to help guide your career choices. Here are a few notable assessments you can take to help you gain better insights into your own natural preferences
DISC: The DISC is a personality assessment that measures you across 4 different scales: Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. The premise being that once you have the ability to recognize your own behavioral styles, you can learn how to emulate behaviors that may be less natural to you in order to succeed in different environments. This test can be taken online, without the interpretation or support from a professional.
Clifton Strengths (Formally known as Strengthsfinder): Rather than focusing on your blind spots, StrengthsFinder helps you recognize your unique talent across 34 themes. The premise being that once you understand what makes you special, you’ll be able to make better choices, build better relationships, and improve each day. The assessment comes with a book which you can read to help you gain further insights into your results. There are different variations of this test which range in cost.
16 Personalities: This test, based on the widely known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, gives you a personality “code” (ex: ENFJ) based on 16 different personality profiles. This assessment examines you across 5 sections, including your Mind, Energy, Nature, Tactics, and Identity. It looks at each factor as a two-sided continuum. Once you complete the online assessment, it walks you through strengths and weaknesses, romantic relationships, friendships, parenthood, career paths, and workplace habits. This is a free and easy tool you can use to help gather some quick insights into your personality and behaviors.
These kinds of tests give you insights into where your natural preferences may lie. When you are able to identify your greatest strengths, you can apply them to a role that aligns with those strengths, and create a working experience that is more positive and overall a greater fit, says Dr. Londei-Shortall.
Knowing the job market
Understanding the job market is the next step in putting this new knowledge to use! To expand your knowledge of the market, consider the following two tools:
Glassdoor: Glassdoor provides you with a suite of tools to keep a strong pulse on the job market. From blogs about which companies are hiring for which roles, economic and job trend reports, and reviews on salaries and companies, they’ve created a professional community for you to lean on. Try Know Your Worth the personal salary calculator to receive a custom salary estimate based on your title, company, location and experience. Discover your current worth in the job market, find out if you are being paid fairly, and explore ways to increase your pay.
Informational interviews: These are interviews where you simply meet with individuals whose profession interests you. They give you a chance to learn more about their career trajectory, industry, organization, and what their roles entail.
Having a handle on what jobs exist, where certain markets are most dominant, and what kinds of careers are high in demand will give you the power you need to create yourself a plan of action.
Finding the fit between the two
If you have not taken the time to do steps 1 and 2, steps 3 might present itself with a larger challenge, says Dr. Londei-Shortall, so be sure to do your due diligence when it comes to research and self-reflection. The following tests can give you an idea of what areas of work you could consider. Of course, they should be taken with a grain of salt and should be viewed as a jumping point/ discussion starter for your research!
My Plan: This test assesses your interests across six core work values: Achievement, relationships, recognition, independence, working conditions, and support. It then lets you explore 700+ different careers and demonstrates how your values would stack up in relation to the needs of those jobs. It is free to use and explore.
O*Net Interest Planner: This assessment firsts asks you a series of questions, and then suggests a list of areas for you to consider based on how much education and training you are willing to undertake. It is free, and supported by the U.S. government.
As with all things in life, experience brings us closer to greater self-awareness and personal insights. If you are still feeling lost or confused, remember that Rome was not built in a day, and you have your whole life to sort out your career and try new things on for size. If plan A did not seem to fit, and plan B and C are not looking great either, remember, you’ve still got the entire alphabet to get it right!
Stacy Pollack is a Learning Specialist with an MA in Educational Technology. She is passionate about building leadership programs that engage and contribute to the success of her organization. She loves to share her perspective on workplace development, career building, and networking for success. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at www.stacypollack.com