The Ultimate Guide to Self-Assessment for Career Change

career self assessment

I was in my sophomore year when I decided to become a programmer. I didn’t even know what I needed to learn to become a programmer, but I just wanted to be one. 

One day, a professor taught me the significance of data science and how data scientists have the sexiest jobs in the world. I was fascinated by the “Data Scientist” job title and went straight to the professor to ask how I could become one. 

The professor didn’t warn me about making career choices without self-assessment, instead blindly encouraged my choice. He couldn’t recognize the pressure of external validation and desire to achieve a job title and not mental peace. 

How I wasted 3 precious years of life on that unwanted career is another story. Fast forward to today, I recognize how stupid I was to make a significant decision in my life within 10 minutes of made-up fanciness. 

Self-assessment for career change saves you from all of the stupidity I did. It guides you towards a desired career, helps you make informed decisions, and reduces career change anxiety. 

What is Career Self-assessment? 

Career self-assessment is a process of reflecting on your personality to find a suitable career. Knowing your personality is the key to a happier and healthier life. It involves thinking about your habits, values, priorities, desires, life dynamics and more to get a clear idea of what you enjoy doing and how you can monetize it. 

Many people believe a high-income job is the ticket to a happy life. However, the majority of people in high-salary jobs experience burnout. Various factors, including workload and lack of control, lead to burnout at work. 

Career change self-assessment helps you pick a career that suits your lifestyle so you can enjoy your it to the fullest. 

Four components involved in career self-assessment are:

  • Personality: Your goals, desires, and motivation.
  • Interests: Your passion, hobbies, self-centeredness, and egoism.
  • Values: Your beliefs, character, conduct, conscience, and morals.
  • Skills: Your experience, expertise, knowledge, educational background, and training.

Benefits of Self-assessment for Career Change

A career change self-assessment gives you a clear understanding of your goals and desires. Translating your goals and desires into a career saves you from frustrated job outcomes and constant burnout. 

Career self-assessment also helps you understand your skill set and experience at a deeper level. Identifying your skills gap allows you to create a roadmap to refine your skills or learn new ones. Additionally, a self-assessment allows you to think beyond limits by providing you with new ideas and perspectives on career change.

Choosing a career without self-assessment traps you into unwanted careers where you’re psychologically pressured to stay. I made the same mistake and had to suffer sleepless nights for over two years. 

So a career self-assessment saves you from useless stress and turns your dream life into a reality.

Are Online Career Self-assessments Enough?

While online career self-assessments are comprehensive, they might not generate accurate results. These assessments ask you multiple personality-related questions, do some calculations based on your responses, and generate suitable career choices tailored to your personality. 

Sounds cool, right? 

The algorithms working behind these assessments might be smart but humans tend to deviate from their true selves during interactions. And that’s how career self-assessments are biased.

The attitude-behavior gap is a well-known phenomenon in marketing. It occurs when people express opinions that do not align with their values. This phenomenon happens in career change assessments too. 

Suppose an assessment asks you the following question:

Do you enjoy working alone or in a group?
And you reply “I enjoy working in a group” only because you’re influenced by people on LinkedIn sharing their office selfies with a bunch of coworkers. However, in reality, you’re most productive when working alone and enjoy being by yourself at work.

How to do a career self-assessment?

You can do a career self-assessment by asking yourself a comprehensive list of questions. 

When doing so, I like to sit in a calm environment, the closer to nature, the better. 

Also, it’s important to let your answers sit on the paper for at least a week so you can track your changing thoughts about career preferences.

But what questions do you need to answer? 

Let’s have a look at them below:

1. Your desires

Desires, as you know them, are the things you yearn for. These are the thoughts you can’t let go about things you want in life. A strong urge for social acceptance, the pursuit of independence or the psychological pressure of achievement are some good examples of desires.

Your desires play a huge role in shaping your personality; thus it’s more than important to consider them when you brainstorm career options. 

So the questions you need to ask yourself are:

What do you want to do (passion)? 

Is there a career option you’ve been wanting to get into? This could be anything from being an animal painter to an aerospace engineer. Just focus on the things you’d like to do. This can also include the way you want to spend your days. For example, I want to be an independent dress designer who spends most of her day at home designing client dresses.

What do you enjoy doing?

Is there something you absolutely love doing that makes you lose track of time? Note it down even if you feel it’s something non-monetizable. No matter how useless you believe it is, it’ll help you brainstorm career options in later stages.

2. Your ability

Desires are more about the internal urge to do something, ability, on the other hand, drags us to reality. 

External and internal limitations, geographical restrictions, and financial hurdles all define your ability to pursue a career. 

The questions that’ll answer your ability are:

Where do you live? 

The answer should be more than just the name of your town/ city/ country. It must take into account the level of opportunities available in your location, the freedom to make career choices, and the environment that allows moving freely to make your dreams a reality. 

What are your financial hurdles? 

Your answer should include how many days you can survive without an income and your ability to invest in a career change. Are you already dependent on someone else? If so, will they be willing to provide for your career change costs? Write down everything on paper, even if you feel things aren’t in your favor. Again, this will help you brainstorm suitable career options. 

What are your internal and external limitations? 

Internal and external limitations can be anything from societal pressure to pursue a career against your will to self-doubt. These are the things that come to your mind when you’re making decisions to demotivate you at least a bit. 

Note down things like family responsibilities, hectic schedules, sickness, stress, anxiety, resistance to coming out of your comfort zone, preferred work environment, future plans, external validation, and all things keeping you from making a change. 

Cost of switching 

I was stupid to consider only learning costs when picking a career and had to suffer later. The cost of switching is much more than just learning costs but you realize it once you’re in between the process. 

Consider answering the following questions to analyze the cost of switching careers:

What will be your estimated learning cost?

Though you can learn most of the skills for free, estimate your learning costs in advance. How much do courses in your desired career cost? Are there single courses/ bootcamps available or will you need to take multiple courses before you start earning? 

What will be the cost of finding a new job? 

When you change careers, you might have to wait a while before you land your desired job. That means you’ll have to survive without a stable income for some time, maybe a few weeks or months. Your living costs without a stable income before you land a job are your cost of finding a new career. 

None of us know how long it will take to land a job. But, you need to estimate the upper limit of this cost. This is to ensure a smooth and stress-free transition. Managing your finances beforehand is the key to a successful career transition. 

Are there any relocation or transportation costs? 

Do you need to change your location to find a new job or to learn new skills? Will you have to stay there or return after some time? What will be the transportation cost of relocation and return (if necessary)? Measure an estimate of these costs, even if relocation is your desire and not a need.

What are your initial salary needs?

Since the amount of initial salary also depends on your skill level, market saturation, and your domain, make sure to estimate it for survival only. If you also take into account the return on investment (ROI) of your career change, you’ll have trouble finding a job with a higher-than-average salary. Keep your estimates realistic and gain some initial experience to increase your rates over time and achieve your ROI.

Your skills

Your skill level decides how long it will take you to get a new job and suitable career options. Your learning and professional experience also count here. Here’s how to identify your skills:

What are your skills and experience? 

List down every skill you’ve with even the littlest of exposure here. These include the skills you use every day, the skills you use occasionally, the skills you learned in an optional course, the skills you once mastered, etc. Note them all to shortlist your career options in later stages. 

What skills do you enjoy practising? 

There are skills that we ought to do and there are skills that we love doing. Spotting the later ones increases your chances of finding a suitable career. 

Your location

While most career changers overlook their location needs, this also plays its part in identifying your career options. 

The two locations that define your path to a new career are:

Where do you currently live? 

Your current location has a significant impact on future opportunities. I didn’t have many opportunities in my desired career because of location constraints. I didn’t think about it beforehand and had to suffer later. 

Where do you want to work from? 

This is your dream location. It can be your home, a specific town, or even multiple towns if you want to travel while working. Knowing and acknowledging your desires increases their chances of becoming a reality.

Your needs

These are the things you need to make a career change. This can include finances, tools, time etc. For example, I needed a laptop and time to learn to code to become a web developer. You’d want to list learning expenses if you decide to enroll in a paid course or a quiet space if you need one or whatever it is that you need. 

Your willingness

Do you really need to change careers, or are you being influenced by something? This phenomenon is known as the psychology of social proof, and it can trap you in an unwanted career. I have been there, and it was awful. I was influenced by others’ choices and felt like I needed the change.

Ask yourself if, when making career decisions, you were entirely on your own and influenced by no one, would you still choose a specific career? If yes, you’re good to go. If not, you need to give it more time. Assess your skill level and see if it aligns with your desired career. Consider if you can learn the required skills easily or if it will require more time and effort than you can afford. Talk to people working in your desired career and clear all your doubts. 

Research the job market in your desired career to analyze market saturation. Lastly, identify if you’ll be socially and financially fulfilled in your career. 

More tips

Once you’re done answering these questions, analyze them to pick your suitable career. Have good communication skills with a knack for tech? Why not try Devrel Have experience in a publishing company? Research about content marketing. Use AI to brainstorm career options based on your assessment and pick the most relevant one. 

No matter what your desired field is, a few tips always work wonders:


How to do a career self-assessment?

A career self-assessment involves identifying your desires, preferences, and lifestyles. This often includes stepping away from your daily routine, engaging in meditation, and asking yourself questions to clarify your career preferences and goals.

What is a personal statement for changing careers? 

It is a brief narrative of your career goals, motivation, skills, experience, and your commitment to pursue a new career.

How do I write my self-assessment?

You can write your self-assessment by asking yourself questions related to your career aspirations, strengths, needs, and readiness to change careers. These questions help you identify your desires, abilities, needs, commitment, and the cost of switching careers.

What is the main purpose of self-assessment? 

The purpose of self-assessment for a career change is to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and pick a career that suits your lifestyle. A suitable career saves you from burnout and loss of purpose in life.

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