Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Career Change 2011 - Step 2: Who Are You?

The question of who 'you' are is a tricky one.  After all, there is no stable 'you', only a collection of relatively stable skills, traits, preferences abilities and experiences which are interpreted by our minds to be 'me' or 'I'.

Run that by me again... There is no 'me'?
 If you doubt that the idea of a self is a fiction, then consider the case of extraversion.  Imagine you have a strong preference for extraversion in social situations.  Is there any situation where you are the opposite?  For most the answer is yes.  Or, consider the idea that you are loyal.  Is there ever a case where you have been disloyal? Intelligence and personality are important and are fairly stable, but they do not override choice.

As career changers, it's important to accept this caveat, because otherwise we risk boxing ourselves in, and not thinking anew about our lives and careers.  (As an aside, if you are seeking career change, by definition you are seeking to think anew).

I prefer to have clients consider which aspects of their personality do they choose to hold stable, in the context of work.  Given this as the introduction, I enthusiastically endorse exploring 'self' using psychometric tests.  The key with psychometric tests is to find those which have what psychologists call good external validity.  Validity refers to the idea that if you know one thing about your personality, does that allow you to predict anything else out there in the real world?

Myers Briggs, Insights and other Jungian type personality tests often have very limited validity.  You are far better off choosing one which measures the 'big 5' personality measures, such as the NEO-PI.

If you want to start this for free, one of the best free resources can be found here.  
What To Do:
  • Take the test
  • Read the report
  • Think about which parts of the report feel true or valid to you, or which you 'choose' to make true in future
  • Think about what this says about the kind of job you want, and the criteria you want to apply to your career decision
  • Note down any significant criteria that come from the exercise and keep in a safe place - we'll be adding to those criteria
  • Sit down and have a biscuit a pint a refreshing piece of fruit, in line with your New year's resolutions.

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