Which job is right for me? A self-assessment guide

There’s more to the job search than finding an employer who will hire you.

There's more to the job search than finding an employer who will hire you. If you don't like the job, you'll be looking for a new one again soon. This self-assessment guide will help you determine which careers and positions are worth pursuing.

Assess past accomplishments

In his best-selling job search manual "What Color is Your Parachute?" Richard Bolles explains to his readers that future employers want to know about your work history to make predictions about the future. Because it's unlikely that you'll have a personal history with your prospective company, all they have to go on is what you can tell them. Therefore, when pitching yourself to a potential employer, you need to explain your past professional accomplishments and how they could relate to the new position.

As you begin your self-assessment, write down a list of these achievements. It's best to include figures when possible. For example, you might talk about a time you saved your employer money or generated revenue. Or you could talk about the number of tasks you're able to complete in a day. Later, you'll see how these accomplishments can explain how your past skills translate to new industries.

Prioritize the skills you like to use

Whether you're a student or someone with a long career history, you likely have a number of skills that you've developed over the years. It's also likely that you prefer to use some skills over others. Perhaps you're fond of communicating in writing but not public speaking. Having a thorough understanding of which skills you prefer to use will help you determine which opportunities to pursue in the future.

For example, in an article for Harvard Business Review, Marc Zao-Sanders, the CEO of an artificial-intelligence-powered skills development company, recommended using a two-by-two grid for prioritization. For the purposes of skill prioritization, you can make a grid like this:

High enjoyment / low expertiseHigh enjoyment / high expertise
Low enjoyment / low expertiseLow enjoyment / high expertise

The Y-axis (left side) is your fondness for each skill, the X-axis (bottom side) is your level of expertise. Therefore, the bottom left box is for skills you are neither fond of nor experienced in. The top left box contains skills you enjoy but aren't experienced in. The bottom right box is for skills that you are experienced with but not particularly fond of, and the last box is for skills you love to use and are experienced at.

"In addition to assessing the skills you want to use in your role, you should also think about the visibility you desire within an organization," says Rebecca Wright, Regional Director for Beacon Hill's Associates Division. "The same job description can have a very different feel when the company is 50 people versus 500 people versus 5,000 people. If you're not sure the pros and cons to each size, ask your friends and family about their careers and where they work to learn more about the differences between start-ups, mid-size and large companies."

Look at the map

Once you know which skills you possess and which ones you enjoy using the most, you'll have a better idea of the types of positions that are most appealing to you. Next, you need to determine if you want to look for jobs nearby or in another location. Perhaps you wish to move to a new city for a fresh start.

Make a list of cities you'd like to live in, and then research the companies that call those places home. Try to be as thorough as possible. You may find that your first-choice city can't offer enough opportunities, but your second-favorite city has companies you're interested in working for.

woman writing on paper

Speak with a recruiter

Once you have a better idea of the types of positions you'd like to pursue, it's time to tell the world. In addition to scouring the web for open opportunities, consider chatting with a professional recruiter.

"Once you have identified a position you are interested in I would strongly suggest speaking to someone already in the role with years of experience in that specific field," notes Shakira Irizarry, Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Pharma Division. "Absent of already having a professional connection in your desired field, talking to a recruiter can also give you insights into your desired role. It's important to truly understand the expectations of the position and know the 'good, the bad and the ugly' about the job to determine if it's in fact the profession you want to pursue for their career. It's important to be well informed and knowledgeable before pursuing a role that may not be what you expected."

This step is especially helpful during the discovery process, where you dig into the potential opportunities available in your desired geographic region.

You may learn about exciting companies you hadn't heard of before or discover a position that checks most of your career goal boxes. Look at our guide to learn how to make the most of a meeting with a recruiter.

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