If you look at course details and job adverts you will often see requirements to include things like ‘a passion for’, ‘must have a strong interest in’, ‘must demonstrate and enthusiasm for’ and so on. There is often a strong link between a high level of ability in something and a strong interest but not always. Measuring interest and personality is very complex and many people will spend serious sums of money in order to understand these factors and how it applies to their careers.
So how do you find out about your skills and interests in order to help you make career decisions and apply for jobs – without spending lots of money?
Try doing some of the following exercises and looking at some of the links below:
- The Skills Health Check on the National Careers Service website will help you not only analyse the skills that you are good at but also help you assess your level of interest and motivation. The assessment results in a report which may also give guidelines on the next steps to take, store your information for updating and link you to relevant career information.
- For those in higher education and beyond you may find the following useful. Follow the links to the What Jobs Would Suit Me? section of the prospects.ac website. This leads you to a program called Prospects Planner. This is an online questionnaire which helps you analyse your interests, skills and motivations and will make suggestions of possible careers that you might wish to consider as well as an indication as to how suited to this career you are on the basis of your answers to the questions. You can select careers of interest and link directly to the relevant Job Profile.
- Fast Tomato is an interest and personality questionnaire often used in schools. You may have already used it in school but it is often worth doing it again as you may have changed. You can have a 48 hour trial via their website but if you wish to have longer access look out for their new facility being introduced which will enable you to use it for slightly longer periods of time.
- Adult Directions is another interest guide designed for those beyond school. It is often available in colleges and public libraries but it is possible to buy a 28 day licence costing £20 by contacting the publishers on 01509 226868.
- Draw up a list of skills. Rate each of them on a scale of 1-5 (1 = highest score; 5 = lowest score) as to how strong your interest is and how good you are at each skill. If you are unsure about what to include in your skills list you will find some lists by searching the Internet, however University of Kent Careers website has a good list to start on.
- Once you have drawn up your list and made your assessment try to think of an example where you have demonstrated each of the skills you have selected. You need to record – what the task was, what and how you used these skills and what the result of your contribution to this task was. You may find it useful to ask some of your friends for feedback
- Now look at some of the job profiles you have selected as possible areas of interest. How does your skills analysis match up to what is required?
How do you assess your personality without spending lots of money?
While a number of the interest guides mentioned above do take on board your personality if you wish to assess your personality on its own this is slightly more complicated. I have identified two places which will link you to practice tests but these are mainly designed for assessment in recruitment. However take a look:
- Prospects.ac has an article explaining psychometric testing and links to some examples for you to practise on. These tests are mainly used in the recruitment of graduates.
- Dummies.com has a short article about the use of personality tests and has links to a couple of examples
- A number of university careers service websites may have additional information – again with links to practice tests but you may find that the range of links is limited and you are being directed to the same sources each time.
Most of the examples given above are designed to be used in selection for recruitment which may not necessarily help you consider which careers are most suited to you. You should have a lot of information by this stage about the skills, qualifications, types of interests required fpor certain careers. Read more closely at the description of the types of people most suited to these careers; read any case studies and write down the main characteristics required for each of the careers you are interested in. Rate each characteristic 1- 5 (1= poor link and 5 = close link) in terms of how closely it reflects your personality. write down some evidence of how this supports your claims. Now ask your friends and family what they think – again giving evidence. With this information you are now in a better position to make a decision.