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Career change test
What exactly are your skills?

Here's a simple career change test - answer this question - What skills do you have that will be most needed if you are to make a move to a new career, or to change your job?

This information is vitally important. If you haven't seriously considered this question, then do so now.....for these reasons:

  • You need high levels of awareness about your skills to develop realistic job search targets. And....as you will know if you've read other parts of this website - targeting your job search is an absolutely critical success factor in career change.
  • If you are in a well established career you will have developed a diverse range of skills - have you sorted out which ones you'd like to use in future, and which ones you'd prefer not to use?
  • Sorting out your skills preferences in this way is another useful form of career change test because it will assist you in developing job search targets.
  • You will need to prove you have the skills that you are marketing to employers. So....you need to know which skills you'll have to be gathering evidence about.

Job search tip

An area where almost everyone struggles in job search - and especially in their self marketing is.....finding the appropriate words to describe what they have to offer.

Related to this, many, many people don't actually have a concise understanding or awareness of what their capabilities are.

Do either of these situations sound like you?

If so, the type of career change tests I'm suggesting here will be of enormous benefit to you. Among them will be a test that includes a detailed assessment of your skills.

Your career change test - how to assess your skills

If you're using the services of a job search coach or careers adviser you can expect them to provide you with very good career assessment tools, including career change job skills assessments.

There are also a number of good skills self-assessment tools in the public domain which are free. You can find these types of skills assessments just by doing a Google search.

If you want skills tests that are associated with your current, or intended future career path you might need to be creative in where you look to find these types of lists.

The bottom line is that you will need to build for yourself, or access in some other way, a job skills list that you can use for comprehensive self assessment of your capabilities.

Career change testing - where to find skills tests

One of the most comprehensive, free resources can be found at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management website. This website provides U.S. Federal Government job classification and job grading information for most types of work done in the Federal Government - this includes both white collar and various trades, craft and labor positions.

At this website, you can look for an occupation and then download a pdf file which contains a description of the work, and other information for job classification purposes.

Read the document and you will find descriptions of the knowledge and skill required to carry out the job at various levels of seniority. From there it is a relatively simple process to make a list of skills you think are relevant to the kind of work you do, and then self assess the level of skill you think you have.

There is a bit of work involved, but if you are stuck for ideas about how to describe the types of skills you have, then this website will be a useful resource.

Career change testing - other skills assessment resources

Occupational data bases

O*Net Online has a facility where you can do a search for an occupation, and then get a list of skills associated with that occupation. It's therefore a good starting point for you if you're looking for a list of occupation specific skills.

Professional Associations

Looking at the types skills that are required to work in an occupation that you would like to do can be a very useful form of career change test.

Therefore, professional associations and other accrediting bodies can be quite helpful sources of information. These types of organisations are responsible for assessing and maintaining professional standards, and for promoting the occupation or profession to others. You can often find job skills lists for the specific occupation you are researching.

The International Directory of Professional Associations might help you find an association for your career.

Education and training institutions

These types of institutions will often have lists of skills that will be developed in relation to their course offerings.

The advantage to you in researching these types of organisations is that you might be able to find occupation specific information. Bear in mind that the information provided by these types of organisations is for academic and marketing purposes, it won't be a job skills list as such.

This Australian website - Training.gov.au has an extensive list of occupations, and the training required for the occupation from entry level through to supervisor and management level. A list of competencies is included in the documentation, which you can of course use to assess your skills.

Job and person specifications

Your current employer might be a useful resource for obtaining lists of skills that are associated with your career change opportunity.

Many organisations will have job and person descriptions or specifications for every staff member. These documents contain a description of the work to be done and a list of the skills required to competently perform the role.

These types of documents are used for performance management, and also by Human Resource departments for workforce planning and review.

Training departments in organisations will also create lists of skills and competencies to enable skills audits and training needs analyses to be carried out.

Dig around your workplace and see what you can find.

Reminder - why are you doing this!

At a most basic level, if you are to successfully change your job or career, you are going to need, and be able to market skills that you possess that are relevant to any career change opportunity that you've identified.

So completing a thorough skills self assessment is a simple, but effective career change test.

To be a credible candidate in the jobs market you'll need to be able to strongly promote what you can do, and back this up with evidence that you can actually do what you are claiming.

So.....which skills do you have that will best assist you in your career transition?

It's likely to be those skills that you can execute at a very high level of competency, and importantly that you also enjoy using.

These skills represent areas of real strength for you, so in completing your skills assessment you will also need to discover your strengths.

Categorising your skills list

You can get even more value in using skills assessment as a form of career change testing if you categorise your skills list, or sort your skills as follows:

  • Technical or occupation specific skills - these are skills, and associated knowledge that will obviously be related to your profession, or occupation. You will have acquired these skills in a variety of ways. For example, through your education - university, college or other form of technical or trade training, on job training and from repeated use in your profession or job.
  • Transferable skills - these are used in virtually any job role. For example, management and leadership skills can be applied in any job which requires these attributes. Other common transferable skills include oral and written communication, planning and organising, problem solving, team working, and project management.
  • Self management or adaptive skills - similar to transferable skills in that these are needed in virtually any job. They include time management, stress management, being adaptable or flexible, learning skills etc.

Another advantage of categorising your skills in such a way is that you can more easily identify a suitable career change job or career change opportunity. Using skills assessment can indeed be a highly useful type of career change test.

Your job skills list - identifying your strengths

Marketing skills that are truly your strong points is most likely to produce a successful jobsearch outcome for you.

So.....working from the job skills list that you've created, or have been provided with, you can use a simple matrix to discover your strengths.

Basically the process is as follows:

  • Create a spreadsheet using MS Word, Excel or similar - here's a sample that you can download.
  • List all the skills that you have identified - include your technical, transferable and self managing skills in the job skills list.
  • Then, using the spreadsheet, evaluate each skill in terms of your competency, that is the extent to which you believe you can apply that skill - basic, or competent.
  • Next, for each skill evaluate the level of enjoyment for you in using that skill.

Summarise your results

You can use the simple matrix shown below to summarise your self assessment and to discover your strengths.

High Competence - Low Enjoyment

Skills which you have assessed this way probably represent stressors in your working life.

All of us have skills in our which we can use extremely well, but it gives us no joy or challenge to use them. Doing too much of what you don't like, or that you find boring is probably one of the main reasons you are looking for a career change opportunity.

Avoid jobs which require these skills, if you can.

High Competence - High Enjoyment

Skills in this category are likely to represent areas of real strength for you.

Most employers will hire you for what you already can do, so realistically marketing these skills represent your best chance of making a career of job change.

Actively seek jobs which require you to use these skills.

Low/No Competence - Low Enjoyment

Your assessment is that you don't have this skill, and it is unlikely you'd enjoy using it anyway.

Don't bother looking for jobs where this type of skill is required. It would be extremely difficult to convince an employer to hire you if you didn't have these skills anyway.

Low Competence - High Enjoyment

These are skills which you would like to either acquire, or develop further because you know that you are likely to enjoy using them.

By all means look for jobs where these skills are required.

If however employers are indicating that high competence in this skills is essential you'll need to be very persuasive in your marketing to win the job.

Career change test - summary

There are a number of indicator tests that you could do to determine whether it is in your interests to pursue a job or career change opportunity.

The facts are however, that unless you can offer prospective employers the types of skill they are looking for your chances of making a successful career change are considerably lowered.

Therefore, carrying out a comprehensive stock take and assessment of your skills is one of the more important career change tests that you can undertake.

The work you do in carrying out this type of career change test, and to discover your strengths will be used in many ways. For example:

  • It will assist you in preparing your career development plan.
  • You will be clear about how to carry out a review of your career, for the purposes of gathering evidence about your strengths.
  • You'll have strong content for your targeted resume.
  • Most of all, you will have the ability to target a career direction, or jobs which require skills that you know you can do well, and that you enjoy using.

New! Comments

Has this helped you in your job search? What else would you like to see here about job search? Leave me a comment in the box below.
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