The following is adapted from Ignite Your Career!
Many college students have been in this situation: it’s your junior or senior year. You’ve chosen a major but you still have no idea what you want to do with it as a career. Graduation will be here faster than you know it and you have to start thinking about job applications now. What is the right career path for you?
To find the answer, you need to consider your strengths and the jobs that would leverage them to allow you to deliver success.
One of the best tools to learn more about your strengths is an assessment, and there are two in particular that I recommend in my role as an executive recruiter: StrengthsFinder and YouScience.
Each of these assessments looks at slightly different criteria to determine where your innate talents lie. Once you’ve identified your strengths, you’ll have a much easier time choosing a profession where you’re likely to succeed and find fulfillment.
Let’s break down each assessment so you can determine which, if not both, will teach you about your strengths.
How an Assessment Can Help You
I understand that taking more “tests” is a hard sell, but by taking a strengths assessment now, your job search will be much less stressful later. Not only will you have a clearer idea of what you want to do for a living, but you’ll be better prepared to answer interview questions about your strengths and weaknesses.
As one of the assessment companies, YouScience, explains: “Sooner or later we all figure it out. That ‘aha’ moment when we understand who we are, how we think, and what we should do with our lives—but what if we could do it sooner?”
You probably want to have a job lined up by the time you graduate, and assessments can help you find answers about your direction in life more efficiently than trial and error. Instead of choosing a career that you might not enjoy down the line, you can pursue one that aligns with your strengths and interests from the start.
Now that you have an idea of why assessments are useful, let’s look at my recommended choices, starting with StrengthsFinder.
StrengthsFinder, the more established of the two sites, is part of the Gallup organization. It’s an hour-long assessment consisting of a series of 177 paired statements. In each case, you choose which one best describes you, so you’re giving your perception of yourself. The program measures your talents and your natural patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving, and helps you figure out your strengths.
There are two versions of StrengthsFinder. The longer one comes up with thirty-four strengths, but early in your career it can be overwhelming and it’s not necessary. Try the simpler version, which lists your five strengths with descriptors and suggestions about how your mix of strengths could be leveraged. It recognizes core strengths, such as executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking, and recommends possible roles.
One such role is achiever, a person who is really good at executing things and could be a strong project manager. Another role is activator, somebody who is really good at influencing. Once you have a clear understanding of your strengths, you can find a career that benefits from them.
YouScience is a more science-based assessment. Rather than asking about your perception of your strengths, it analyzes your hardwired potential by having you play a series of nine, short, psychometric games on the computer. Your gameplay and results allow the program to figure out how your brain works, and what your natural aptitude, talents, and strengths are. It then gives you an enormous number of options of careers where these strengths could be leveraged.
For example, if the assessment determines that you have an aptitude for science and engineering and an interest in animals, it might suggest veterinarian as an ideal career path. The test will narrow down career choices so you aren’t overwhelmed with options. Even if you are still in high school, you can use these insights to guide your college education. Apply to schools with strong programs in whichever field the assessments lead you toward. Choose coursework that will advance your relevant skills and improve your employability.
In short, you can use the insights from the assessments to focus on the path that best aligns with your passions and strengths. (Use code IGNITE20 to receive a YouScience discount.)
Career Paths Require Refinement
Armed with the insight you get from StrengthsFinder or YouScience, there are still many different paths you could take. You will likely not find the perfect fit initially. Almost no one ends up in their dream job straight out of college, but if you don’t find the ideal career right away, don’t worry. The goal is to narrow down your choices to a smaller selection, not a single perfect answer.
Every role you take will move you closer toward the right opportunity. Each time you switch jobs, ask yourself, “What do I like about it? What don’t I like?” This will help you figure out the bullseye you’re aiming for, and how to continue to tighten your aim.
By taking an online assessment like StrengthsFinder or YouScience, you may start out by hitting two or three rings out from your bullseye rather than being completely off target.
For more advice on building a successful career, you can find Ignite Your Career! on Amazon.