Knowing yourself: Self-assessment
Need more information? - If you feel you need greater clarification to identify areas of interest consider taking the Strong Interest Inventory (SII). Contact Career Services to obtain additional information.
Knowing and understanding what's important to you about life/work will help you to choose an occupation and a work environment that matches your values. In reality, you probably participate in work, volunteering and life activities for a number of reasons and it's good to identify those reasons and understand their importance. In exploring this you may discover which career values are most important to you.
Most people are happy doing things that allow them to live according to their values. Values can also be defined as the key motivators that drive or define our actions and can vary greatly among individuals.
When picturing your future career think about the importance of values such as job security, salary, helping people, flexibility, creativity, variety, work hours, independence, achievement, status, ethics, social interaction, work environment, leadership/management, etc. Though salary is an important consideration you will want to ensure your career path is in line with your strongest values since it most often determines job satisfaction. And as the saying goes, "when you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life." Prioritizing, not only identifying your values, can help you to compare or evaluate occupations later.
Strategies for identifying your career values:
- Consider all jobs and volunteer experiences you've had and think about what you have enjoyed and didn't enjoy about each. For example, did you enjoy the freedom given to you in a past job? Did you have an opportunity to use your creative skills and develop new ideas? Do you want these opportunities in your career?
- Talk to others about what they value in work. Parents, guardians and friends can be helpful: ask them what they like about their jobs. Do you have similar feelings or do your values differ? Document what you learn about yourself.
- If you are still having difficulty identifying your values use one of the following tools to evaluate your Career Values. These tools may provide a starting point to begin a discussion with someone close to you, or meet with a Career Consultant at Career Services to further explore the meaning of your results.
When considering your career it is important to explore your interests. What are things you really get excited about and why? What are your likes and dislikes? What subjects do you enjoy? What conversations do you find yourself getting involved in? What types of events do you like to attend? Answers to these questions will help to give you a clearer sense of direction regarding potential occupations that relate to your interests. One place to start is to use your interests to generate possible career options. For example, use Google to search for "careers with____________" - You fill in the blank (e.g., "Careers with animals).
One common framework or exploring career interests is the Holland Code.
John Holland, an American psychologist, developed a theory that can be used to identify and clarify your interests as well as to help you identify career options. Holland identified six occupational themes that he labeled: Realistic (Doers), Investigative (Thinkers), Artistic (Creators), Social (Helpers), Enterprising (Persuaders) and Conventional (Organizers). People have differing interest in each of these six themes. Some people have primary interest in only one theme while other people’s interests are spread out across four or more themes. There are all kinds of patterns of interests. Identifying your pattern can help you identify career options that make sense for you.
On-line assessment tools that will help you link your interests to the world of work: (External Resources)
Alternatively, or in addition, you may wish to complete an estimate of your Holland Code by trying an Identifying Your Interests checklist activity, and/or by exploring your hundreds of occupational titles in a Cross Out Careers activity.
Need more information? - If you feel you need greater clarification to identify areas of interest consider taking the Strong Interest Inventory (SII). Contact Career Services to obtain additional information on this assessment tool.
Career Imagery Activity
Career imagery activities are usually done by having someone read instructions while you relax, close your eyes and focus on the task. Some of you may want to get someone in your life to do this with you or you can simply read the following instructions and think about them one-by-one or in their entirety at the end. Try to not picture a specific type of work (i.e., job title) as you do this.
- You will be working to picture things in your mind. Let your mind wander and try not to go through this too quickly.
- Closing your eyes as you imagine your future may help you in developing ideas.
- Start by taking a few minutes to focus by closing your eyes and taking some deep breathes. Get yourself comfortable.
- Go 10 years into your future. You are just waking up and it is Monday morning. What are your surroundings? Are you in bed alone or with someone? What does your room look like? How does it compare to your space right now?
- You get out of bed and get ready for work. Do you have to shower for work? What kind of clothes do you put on (a suit, casual clothes, maybe even jeans)? You go into the kitchen to grab breakfast. Are you in a hurry? What are you eating?
- Are you travelling to work or do you do work at home? If you’re working away from home, how are you getting there? Are you taking the bus, a subway, a bicycle or a car? Are you walking? If driving, what type of vehicle are you taking? If you’re working at home, where in the house/home are you working?
- You’re at your workplace. What does it look like? What are the surroundings? Are you indoors or outdoors? Are there other people around? If so, are they co-workers, clientele or both? If you are outdoors, what does the area look like? Is it crowded? If you are indoors, what kind of structure are you in? Are you in a shop or a store or business? Do you have an office? A cubicle? Is the building large? Small?
- You begin to do your work. What are you doing? Are you working with people, machines, ideas, computers? Are you planning something, organizing things, fixing something, putting something together? Are you writing, talking to people, sitting in meetings, leading a team, reading?
- It’s time for lunch. Did you bring something for lunch? Do you need to go out and get something to eat? Are you eating by yourself or with other people? Are you rushing through your meal to get back to work or are you leisurely taking your time?
- You’re back at work. Are you doing anything different from the first half of the day? Do you have any additional activities that are part of your job?
- Now your work day is over. Do you take work home? Can you leave your work “behind?” Are your days pretty much the same? How much do they change from day to day?
- Did you learn anything about your work preferences?
- If difficult, what do you think made it difficult?
- How does your imagined work situation connect to your career needs (i.e., interests, values, personality, etc.)?
Education Background & Learning Style
When you are career planning it is important to reflect on your educational experiences and learning styles. We all have different learning styles or learning preferences. Understanding your learning preferences will allow you to align training options that are congruent with how you learn best and will improve your learning experience.
Use one of the following tools to better understand your learning style: (External Resources)
Think about your subject preferences, this coupled with everything else you have learned can also lead you in a career direction. Think about the course content; were you excited about your learning? If you are unsure of what a particular subject is about but it seems interesting, review the course calendar, review some of the required reading to gain additional insight and consider sampling courses strategically within a career context. This may help you to determine more quickly an appropriate career and educational path.
There are many additional life factors that will relate to your career planning that you should consider. We will discuss only a few of them here.
Life goals and dreams
There is some research evidence suggesting that your career dreams can be very helpful with career planning.
- What careers have you ever thought about during your life?
- Should you re-connect with these dreams?
- Is the dream consistent with your needs now?
- Can your life goals help you with your career plans? For example, if you really want to work in a rural community this may impact the possible careers you can pursue.
- Consider going through the career imagery activity (above).
Your life experiences can be an incredible source of information about your interests, values, personality preferences, aptitude and more. Reflect on:
- Any work and volunteer experiences you’ve had and consider what you’ve enjoyed and disliked about the activity.
- The occupations you’ve seen while working or living. Do any interest you?
- The activities you most enjoy doing in life. For example, what types of books do you like to read, what world events attract your attention, what are your recreational interests? Do you enjoy helping coach children’s teams? If yes, maybe you might want a career focused on interacting with children.
Looking for new and different life experiences? University study offers great opportunity to explore and experience new things. You can join a student group, study abroad or attend new lectures/presentations. There always seems to be something happening on campus that you can check out.
Have your past and/or present life experiences been challenging? Looking for help with these? Consider connecting with the Student Counselling Centre's personal counselling services. Note: these services are only available for current University of Manitoba students. Check out personal counselling services.
Many things will influence your career planning. Some of these things have influenced you from the time you were born while others are more recent. This can include your family’s values. We recognize that there is great diversity in the world and that this impacts individual career planning. If your culture’s values are important to you, don’t ignore this when career planning! We won’t.
Personal Attributes / Personality
Your personal style or personality traits are a collection of distinct traits and characteristics that define you and make you unique. Knowing your personal style and aligning this to a career direction is a key factor to happiness and success in work/life. Know that you can and will be required to work outside of your personal style, but if you create your career pathway with your personality in mind you are more likely to find a work environment where you can be yourself.
Tools to help you identify and use your personal style:
To help you start identifying your personal attributes and personality, use the checklists (external resources) listed below. Think about how you and others would describe who you are.
Attributes List (PDF) (page 15 of Manitoba Career Development A Guide to Planning Your Career)
Personalitytype.com- Created by writers of the popular personality book Do What You Are.
Online Assessments: (External Resources)
Need more information? Consider completing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is an in-depth personality inventory used extensively to help with career planning and will provide you with greater insight into your personality preferences and also specific career recommendations. Contact Career Services to obtain additional information on this assessment tool.
Skills and Aptitudes
Your skills, gifts, and talents are things that you are able to do well. Skills can be job specific or transferrable to many different occupations. Skills are typically developed because you are interested in an area or because you developed them in school, on the job, volunteering or through other life experiences. Reflecting on the skills you have may lead you to careers to start exploring. Document your current skills and ask yourself - What skills you would most like to use when working? What skills you would like to start or continue to develop?
To help identify your skills, gifts and talents try the following activities: (External Resources)
Career planning can include the significant others in your life such as family and friends. Ask the people who know you well and who you trust for insight into your skills, abilities, and what you do well. Get some advice and feedback about the career paths you are considering. They may see something in you that you haven’t noticed. You will also want to consider the impact your choices might have on others in your life and have discussion to ensure they can support your success.