You may have heard career professionals talk about writing a self-assessment, but what is it, and why should you write one? A self-assessment is an evaluation of your skills, preferences, and values. It can be used to assess your career progress so far and to help you plan your goals for the future. It’s a vital part of the career planning process for a few reasons:
- It’s a way to reflect on which skills and behaviors you have improved and what still needs development to help you reach your goals.
- It can make you feel confident about your capabilities and eliminate the fear of uncertainty. For example, feeling like you know nothing about spreadsheets is scary, but knowing you need to brush up on Excel is manageable.
- Externalizing your thoughts can help you capture where you’ve been and visualize where you’re going.
Even if you’re new to self-assessments, compiling an evaluation of your abilities is simpler than you may think. Here are our tips for creating an evaluation that is comprehensive and thorough:
Tips for Performing a Self-Assessment
- Get Back to Basics: Start by listing all of your skills that come to mind. These can be hard skills such as ‘SQL’ or soft skills like ‘persuading clients.’ A great way to build this list is to look at past resumes or your LinkedIn profile for what you have previously named as a proficiency.
- See It in Action: Think of examples where you utilized each skill. You may find that within each scenario, there are actually related skills. For instance, if you identify one area of expertise as owning your company’s SEO strategy, you probably also have experience working with analytics and metadata and have extensive industry knowledge.
- Reflect on Your Successes: Another great way to clarify your strengths is to analyze your accomplishments. Did you lead your team to a record sales year? Not only is that impressive on its own, but it could also be confirmation of your skills in leadership, management, and market analysis.
- Put It to the Test: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a simple way to begin is to take an aptitude test. There are many free tests available online. Some are even designed to assess specific aspects of yourself, such as your values and personality traits. Having a big-picture view of yourself can be a great place to start.
Once you have assessed your skills, you can harness the information for career planning. There are many ways to use the data you’ve gathered. We’ve prepared a few helpful strategies for you below!
- Divide and Conquer: Over the years, you’ve probably amassed a great many skills, even ones you aren’t particularly interested in. To get an idea of where you’d like to go next, divide your list of skills into two categories: (1) those you’d love to continue developing, and (2) those you would prefer not to. Referring to your preferred skills column is also a great way to select which ones to include when you write your next resume.
- Consider Your Strengths and Weaknesses: If you’ve been thinking about a career shift, take a look at job listings for your dream position to determine what qualifications employers are looking for. Compare their requirements to your list of skills. Is there something you’ve mastered that would make you a perfect fit for that career track? Are there skills you need to acquire or sharpen to prepare for your desired transition?
- Take Your Time: Once you’ve identified what aspects of your skillset are needing attention, decide how much time you are willing to spend on education or development. Research and estimate how long it will take to build each skill you’re considering. This will help you identify skills that are the most reasonable to develop and provide a sense of where you might see the best return on your investment.
- Think Forward: Your self-assessment isn’t just a great tool for you to use today – it’s also a resource that will be useful in the future. A well-documented report is something you can revisit for a historical account of the progress you’ve made, and to hold yourself accountable. For instance, in six months, try looking back at the skills you were hoping to improve upon. See if you’ve achieved your goals in the timeframe you were hoping for and reflect on what’s next. This will provide an excellent starting point for writing a new self-assessment in the future.
One of the best ways to assess your progress is to connect with an experienced professional who can help guide your career search efforts. This gives you access to invaluable insights on what skills employers are looking for, as well as unparalleled support with your next career move. Interested in learning more? Read How To Develop a Long Term Relationship With a Recruiter for additional information!