Self-Assessment Guide – for career planning

Your Interests
1.    What makes you happiest in your life? What excites you?
2.    What do you do that makes you feel invincible?
3.    What do people thank you for?
4.    What do people think you’re good at? If you don’t know‚ go ask them.
5.    Who do you look up to? Who are your mentors? Who inspires you? Why?
6.    What has been your favorite class in high school or at Amherst College? Why did you like it?
7.    What are some of your non-academic interests/hobbies? What do you do for fun?
8.    Consider your previous jobs‚ internships‚ and volunteer or extracurricular activities. What did you like?
1.    What didn’t you like? Was it a good fit for you? Why or why not?
9.    What do you dislike doing or do out of obligation?
10.What social‚ political‚ environmental or other issues are important to you? How do you participate in these issues?
11.When was the last time you massively over-delivered on something? What was it and why did you work so hard on it?
12.When was the last time you were in a state of flow‚ in the zone and totally lost track of time? What were you doing?
13.What are you doing when you feel most like yourself?
14.Imagine you won $158 million in the lottery. It’s now three months later. How will you spend tomorrow?
15.What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
16.What topics do you find yourself continuously arguing or defending with others? What beliefs does your stance represent?
17.What do you love helping people with? How do you most commonly help others?
18.What’s your favorite section in the bookstore? What’s the first magazine you’d pick up at the grocery store?
19.Out of all your current work roles‚ what would you gladly do for free?
20.If you were able to be a member of the audience at your own funeral how would you want to be remembered?
21.What are you naturally curious about?
22.Think back to when you were 5 or 10 years old. What did you want to be when you grew up? What were your influences? What skills and metaphors do these represent (i.e.‚ pilot may be a symbol for freedom)?
23.What did you like to spend your time doing as a child? Do you still enjoy doing this activity?
24.What careers do you find yourself dreaming of? What jobs do others have that you wish were yours?
25.What is something you want to make sure to do in your lifetime?
26.What stories resonate with you?
27.When you imagine the world you want to live in‚ what three words come to mind?
28.What issues or ideas are deeply compelling to you?
1.    What did you learn or remember about your own interests? Were there any surprises or something you hadn’t thought about for a while?
2.    Did you notice any themes or threads that connected your various interests?
3.    What‚ if any‚ of these interests do you feel are integral to personal fulfillment?
4.    Do you foresee any barriers to exploring certain interests as a career option?
Adapted from Scott Dinsmore’s “27 Questions to Find Your Passion” at
Adapted from Tufts Career Center
1 = Strong ability in this area‚ 2 = Some ability‚ 3 = Enough ability to get by with help from others‚ 4 = No ability at all
__ Writing: Express myself in written forms of communication.
__ Talking: Relate easily to people in ordinary conversational settings.
__ Speaking: Deliver a talk or address an audience.
__ Persuading: Able to convince others to believe something I hold to be true.
__ Selling: Convince others to buy a product/service I am selling.
__ Dramatics: Portray ideas or stories in a dramatic format.
__ Negotiations: Bargain/discuss with goal of reaching agreement.
__ Social ease: Relate easily in situations which are primarily social in nature.
__ Dealing with public: Relate effectively with a variety of people who come to an establishment for information‚ service or help.
__Appearance/Dress: Dress presentably and appropriately for a variety of interpersonal situations or group occasions.
__ Accepting negative feedback: Able to cope with criticism.
__ Working with numerical data: Comfortable with large amounts of quantitative data and compiling‚ interpreting‚ and presenting data.
__ Solving quantitative problems: Reason quantitatively so that problems ha‎ving numerical solutions can be solved without the aid of a computer or other mechanical device.
__ Computer use: Use computers to solve quantitative problems‚ have knowledge of programming‚ computer capabilities‚ etc.
__ Scientific curiosity: Learn about scientific phenomena and investigate events which may lead to such knowledge.
__ Research: Gather information in a systematic way for a particular field of knowledge to establish certain facts or principles.
__ Technical work: Work easily with practical‚ mechanical or industrial aspects of a particular science‚ profession or craft.
__ Mechanical reasoning: Understand the way that machinery or tools operate and the relationship between mechanical operations.
__ Manual dexterity: Skilled in using your hands.
__ Spatial perception: Judge the relationship of objects in space; manipulate them mentally and visualize the effects of putting them together or of turning them over or around.
__ Physical stamina: Physically resistant to fatigue and illness.
__ Outdoor work: Familiar with the outdoors; able to work outdoors without encountering a great many obstacles.
__ Artistic: Keenly sensitive to aesthetic values; able to cr‎eate works of art.
__ Imaginative with things: cr‎eate new ideas and forms with various physical objects.
__ Imaginative with ideas: cr‎eate new ideas and programs through conceptualizing existing elements in new ways; able to merge abstract ideas.
Working with Others
__ Supervising: Oversee‚ manage or direct work of others.
__ Teaching: Help others learn how to do or understand something; able to provide knowledge or insight.
__ Coaching: Instruct or train an individual to improve performance in a specific area.
__ Counseling: Engage in a direct helping relationship with another in situations where the person’s concern is not solvable through information-giving or advice.
__ Organization and planning: Develop a program‚ project or set of ideas through systematic preparation and
arrangement of tasks‚ coordinating the people and resources necessary to put a plan into effect.
__ Orderliness: Arrange items in a systematic fashion so that such items or information can be readily used or retrieved.
__ Handling Details: Able to work efficiently with a great variety and/or volume of information.
__ Making Decisions: Comfortable in making judgments or reaching conclusions about matters which require specific action; able to accept responsibility for the consequences of such actions.
Adapted from Tufts Career Center
1.    Did you discover any new skills that you hadn’t recognized before?
2.    Do you have any skills that weren’t listed above?
3.    How do your skills line up with your interests? (e.g.‚ if you have artistic abilities and also enjoy art)

4.    List the top 10 skills that you rated most highly. What do you notice? Do you recognize any themes or spot any potential career fields?

5.    Identify skills you really enjoy using and/or would like to develop further.
6.    Identify any burnout skills. How have you used these skills throughout your life and how might you limit how much you use them in the future?
7.    Are there skills you feel like you need to develop to be competitive but that you don’t like much? How does this feel? Is it still worth developing them?
Use the knowledge and insights of the people who know you best to help you get to know your strengths better. Pick 3-4 people and ask them for 20 minutes of their time to answer the following questions about you:
•      What do you appreciate about me?
•      What am I good at? What are my strengths?
•      What kind of job/career do you think would be a good fit for me?
In this exercise‚ they talk and you write. As much as is possible‚ write exactly what they say. Don’t editorialize or comment; just write it down like a court reporter.
1.    What did you learn from their comments?
2.    Were any of their comments a surprise? Why?
3.    Were there any similarities between the responses from different people? If there were major differences‚ why do you think this was the case?
4.    Did you have any noticeable emotional reactions to the information they shared with you? (i.e.‚ disbelief‚ anger‚ pride‚ joy‚ etc.) Where do you think these feelings are coming from?
Part I: Work Values
Adapted for use from Training for Life: A Practical Guide to Career and Life Planning‚ Fifth Edition (1994)‚ authors‚ Bernadette M. Black and Fred J. Hecklinger
Rate each work value using the following scale:
1 = very important to have in my work‚ 2 = somewhat important to have in my work‚ 3 = unimportant to have in my work
I want Work conditions that permit or require the following:
__ Independence/Autonomy: Doing what you want to do without much direction from others.
__ Time flexibility: Arranging your own hours‚ working according to your own time schedule.
__ Change/Variety: Performing varying tasks in a number of different settings.
__ Change/Risk: Performing new tasks or leading new programs that challenge the established order and may be initially resisted.
__ Stability/Security: Working in a secure job that pays you reasonably well.
__ Physical challenge: Performing dangerous tasks that challenge your physical capabilities.
__ Physical demands: Performing physically strenuous but relatively safe activities.
__ Mental challenge: Performing demanding tasks that challenge your intelligence and creativity.
__ Pressure: Performing in a highly critical environment with constant deadlines.
__ Precise work: Performing prescribed tasks that leave little room for error.
__ Decision making: Making choices about what to do and how to do it.
I want to work for the following purposes:
__ To pursue truth/knowledge.
__ To acquire expertise/authority.
__ To use creativity/innovativeness.
__ To foster aesthetic appreciation.
__ To make social contributions.
__ To acquire material gain.
__ To seek recognition.
__ To promote ethics/morality.
__ To seek spiritual/transpersonal gain.
I want my relationships at work to involve the following:
__ Working alone doing assignments by yourself‚ with minimal contact with other people.
__ Public contact interacting in predictable ways with a continuous flow of people.
__ Developing close friendships with coworkers.
__ Group membership belonging to a group with a common purpose and/or interest.
__ Helping others
__ Influencing others
__ Supervising others
__ Controlling others
List your three most important work values in each of the three categories.
Work Conditions (1………………………….‚ 2…………………………‚ 3………………………..)
Work purposes (1………………………….‚ 2…………………………‚ 3………………………..)
Work relationships (1………………………….‚ 2…………………………‚ 3………………………..)
Part II: Personal Values
Rank your top five values‚ with #1 being the most important to you. Then put an “X” next to the five values that are least important to you.
__ Good Health
__ Many close friendships
__ A large family
__ A fulfilling career
__ A stable marriage
__ A financially comfortable life
__ Independence
__ Creativity
__ Participating in an organized religion
__ ha‎ving children
__ A variety of interests and activities
__ Freedom to cr‎eate my own lifestyle
__ Owning a house
__ A happy love relationship
__ Fulfilling careers for me and my spouse
__ Contributing to my community
__ Abundance of leisure time
__ Ability to move from place to place
__ A stable life
__ A life without stress
__ Strong religious values
__ A chance to make social changes
__ To be remembered for my accomplishments
__ Helping those in distress
__ Freedom to live where I wish
__ Time to myself
__ Enjoyment of arts‚ entertainment‚ and cultural activities
__ A life with many challenges
__ A life with many changes
__ Opportunity to be a leader
__ To make a major discovery that would save lives
__ A good physical appearance
__ Opportunity to establish roots in one place
__ Opportunity for physical activities
__ An exciting life
__ A chance to get into politics
__ To live according to strong moral values
__ Opportunity to teach others
__ To write something memorable
__ A chance to become famous
__ To help others solve problems
__ To make lots of money
List five of your most important personal values. (1………………………….‚ 2…………………………‚ 3………………………..‚ 4 ……………………..‚ 5……………………………….)
Adapted for use from Training for Life: A Practical Guide to Career and Life Planning‚ Fifth Edition (1994)‚ from the authors‚ Bernadette M. Black and Fred J. Hecklinger.
1.    What was the process of deciding like for you? Was this easy or difficult?
2.    Our values change throughout our lifetime‚ but what observations can you make about your values right now?
3.    How important is it to you to live out your personal values in your work life?
4.    How have your most important personal values impacted your life choices thus far?
5.    How do you think your most important work and personal values will affect your career choice(s)?
 Part 1: Family Career Influences
Consider the people who have influenced your career perceptions. Write down the work (paid or unpaid) done by your:
Maternal Grandmother
Maternal Grandfather
Paternal Grandmother
Paternal Grandfather
1.    Do any career fields or specific occupations show up repeatedly in your family? If so‚ which ones? Are you interested in continuing these work traditions? What will happen if you do or don’t follow the tradition?
2.    Do your parent(s)/guardian(s) work outside of the home? If they both worked outside of the home‚ how did that influence you? If only one works outside of the home‚ how did/does that influence you?
3.    What levels of socioeconomic status are apparent or reflected in your family’s work? (examples: blue collar‚ professional) How does this impact your own thoughts about a job or career?
4.    Did your family members choose their careers or did external circumstances affect their choices?
5.    What are the work values in your family? (examples: stability‚ high salaries‚ helping others)
6.    What do your family members say about their work? Is it positive? Negative?
7.    Do any family members want you to pursue a specific career? Are you interested in pursuing this career?
8.    What other advice does your family give you about your future work or career path?
9.    What assumptions or decisions about work might you have made based on what you have heard from or observed in your family?
Based on the Career Genogram Exercise by Sears‚ B.J. & Gordon‚ V.N. (2002). Building your career: A guide to your future (3rd ed.).
Part 2: Culture Assessment
1.    Recall your earliest career ambition. How old were you when you developed this goal? What important people in your life encouraged/discouraged you in this pursuit?
2.    Do you have role models in your culture or community for the kind of work you think you would like to do? If not‚ where can you find mentors or opportunities to connect with people in the fields that interest you?
3.    How does the Amherst College culture impact your career aspirations or thoughts about work?
4.    What messages have you received as a male/female about your career considerations or work in general?
1.    How have these messages influenced your thoughts about future career choices?
5.    What messages have you received from your ethnic group or other identity groups that are important to you about your career considerations or work in general? How have these messages influenced your thoughts about future career choices?
6.    How important to you are the desires and opinions of others in your life as you make career decisions? Do you feel comfortable with their level of influence?
Based on the Career-O-Gram (Thorngren & Feit‚ 2001); and “Reflections” in Finding Your Own North Star‚ by Martha Beck. Adapted from Tufts University Career Center.
Part 3: Questionnaire for Family
Consider asking your family members the questions you have just completed in parts 1 & 2. Their responses to these questions will provide you with even more insight into the history of work and careers in your family and how it has impacted career choices for several generations.

Thorngren‚ Jill M.‚ Feit‚ Stephen S. (2001). The Career‐O‐Gram: A Postmodern Career Intervention. The Career Development Quarterly‚ 49(4)‚  291-303.

Black‚ Bernadette M.‚ and Hecklinger‚ Fred J. Training for Life: A Practical Guide to Career and Life Planning.  Published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company (2006). ISBN 10: 0757528384 8th Edition