Many of us have seen a Venn diagram showing how to identify your dream job. The object is to find the space where three circles overlap: the things you are good at, the things you love to do, and the things someone will pay you to do.
It sounds good—but it only works if you know what each of those circles represent for you. That is where career assessments come in.
Begin at the beginning
Many people hope that a career assessment will identify the precise job that will be their perfect fit.
In fact, even the best assessments will not match you with a single occupation. Rather, they provide a structure, a common language, and a place to begin.
Find tools to help you think broadly
As career counselors, we use a wide variety of assessments, all designed to stimulate learning and kick-start the career planning process.
They run the gamut from free online evaluations to guided hands-on activities to standardized assessments interpreted by a professional career counselor. Each can be helpful, depending on where you are in your journey.
The goal of career assessments is to help you think broadly.
To get the full benefit, counselors recommend that you do more than one assessment. A combination of tools helps you not only assess your skills, but also consider your interests, values, and/or personality.
For example, career assessments may help you identify what you like and do not like about your current or previous jobs. Or you might discover patterns, like the fact that you enjoy budgeting, training, or planning events.
Then dig in
Most people are not dramatically surprised by what they learn. Instead, the career assessments often validate their feelings or help them recognize why one job made them miserable when another one brought joy.
Remember that career assessments are only a starting point. They will help you narrow down ideas, but they do not stand on their own.
Your next steps are to explore career areas, set up informational interviews, and perhaps try a volunteer position or ask for new responsibilities at work.
Your career assessment results should make you feel confident that you have identified what you are good at and what you love—and confident that you are well on your way to finding a role that fulfills you.
UW-Madison’s Adult Career and Special Student Services offers Tools for Purposeful Career Change, an intensive two-day workshop, and Career Change 101, a two-hour session, in addition to individual appointments. Visit continuingstudies.wisc.edu/advising.
Moira Kelley is a senior career counselor in UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see continuingstudies.wisc.edu/advising or call 608-263-6960.
This article originally appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal.