When it comes to choosing a career, plenty of people don’t get it right the first time. While dramatically shifting professions as an adult isn’t often talked about, it’s surprisingly common — according to an Indeed survey, 49% of workers have switched careers in their lifetime.
But with some careful thought and planning now, you could land closer to the right job from the start. Here’s why self-assessment is so important in your career search, and what to consider as you decide on your career path post-graduation.
What is self-assessment?
As a career tool, self-assessment asks you to consider several factors about yourself. Your individual interests, skills, personality, and values all play an important part in choosing a well-suited career. By doing a deep dive into key areas such as these, you can identify your core strengths and weaknesses, better understand your ideal work environment, and narrow down what you hope to actually gain from your career.
For example, are you a people-person or do you do your best work independently? Would you be happy to work all day at a desk, or do you thrive off physical activity? Is a consistent routine appealing or do you like to switch things up regularly? Is a high salary necessary or are you content to simply follow your passions? Answering questions like these can help you make an informed choice when it comes to selecting a suitable career.
While you’re the only person who can answer these types of questions, there are plenty of tools and resources to get you started. If your school has a career center or counselors, that’s a great place to begin. Your school might even offer career-specific courses that allow you to try out different options. You can also find personality tests, such as the Meyers-Briggs Indicator or StrengthsFinder Assessment, to help evaluate your specific traits. Even something as simple as journaling can help you organize your work-based skills and needs in a clearer way.
Why self-assessment is invaluable before you graduate
While your future career might feel far away in high school, now is the perfect time to start thinking things through. After all, you want to make sure that your next steps after graduation fit your long-term goals.
For example, if you plan to enter a competitive career as a doctor or attorney, you might prioritize a college that has a reputable program in your chosen industry. Maybe your ideal career is more specialized, and attending an alternative school such as art or military college is the right move. Or perhaps your future profession doesn’t require a college degree at all — if a training program or apprenticeship is all you need to start working, you could save time and money by skipping a traditional four-year school.
Regardless, narrowing down your career options and getting a general idea of where your interests and skills lie is an important step to take now. And remember, self-assessment is only the first step in the process. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind down the road, but it can help you put your best foot forward as you start your journey.