If you are still unsure about your future, whether it be regarding what you want to study, a change in your major or a new career, assessing your personal traits, including your strengths, your skills, your interests and your weaknesses can be the first step to making these important decisions. Knowing what you are good at, what you are bad at, what you can improve on and what type of person you are can go a long way to gaining clarity about your professional future. This is a process that can be done at any time, whether you are still in school, applying for university or looking for a job. Continue to update your assessment as you gain more skills and experience, as this is as much about personal reflection as it is for education and career exploration.
Think about your personality
Are you the type of person to jump at the chance to be a leader, or someone who prefers to contribute as a follower? Do you like independent learning, or do you benefit more from working in a group? In terms of organisation, do you like to follow a schedule or are you better at dealing with things the moment they present themselves to you? It is important for you to understand your professional personality, as it will help you to determine what kind of careers and positions will suit you.
Identify your interests
What tasks bring you the most personal satisfaction? In what areas do you find you achieve the most success? Consider areas such as scientific research, the arts, sport or businesses and decide on which specific responsibilities or areas of interest you enjoy and are good at. This process does not have to be a major career decision, but it can help you narrow down the wide range of study options and job opportunities to areas that you enjoy and will likely succeed at.
What are your strengths?
Identify the things that you are good at. Be honest with yourself and pinpoint your talents within the workplace. These can include things like considering your competency in communications and digital literacy, or asking yourself; are you a good team leader, have you got good time management skills, orare you a critical thinker?Also, have a think about real life situations where you have successfully used these skills. This will help you when it comes to writing a resume and going for a job interview.
What are your weaknesses?
It is important to be honest here too. There is nothing bad with having weaknesses relating to the workforce, so it is beneficial to identify them, learn why they are a weakness for you and come up with strategies to help make them a strength. If written communication is not your strong point, make it a priority to work on those skills. If you have no confidence in being a team leader, find ways to give you more experience so you can make it a personal asset. Identifying your weaknesses proves to employers and yourself alike that you have realistic and achievable expectations about your career moving forward.
Do you possess any hard skills?
Do you have any industry specific skills, like in IT, engineering or science for example, where you have earned a qualification? These are good to identify, as they may help you decide on what you want to pursue, whether as a career or for future studies. You may decide that the hard skills you have are not relevant to your future, but they are still very important to recognise.
What is your learning style?
If you are still questioning what to study, make a list of criteria you have in your ideal working environment. In doing so, it may help to narrow down the plethora of jobs available to you. Do you like to work with your hands, or think about situations logically? Are you a visual learner or do you prefer to be told information out loud? Does the office environment suit your working style, or do you prefer to get outdoors? If you know that being in an office is something you cannot stand, it’s good to identify this before you start to pursue a career that would require you to sit at a desk. Knowing your style of learning and working can help you plan and scope your future endeavours.
Understanding how you work and learn and what your interests, strengths and weaknesses are is integral to understanding your professional goals and aspirations. Therefore, take the time to consider each of these points to help you figure out your next move regardless of whether it is for study, the search for a new job or for career development.