Determining your strengths and career interests

Congratulations, you’re now part way through your postdoc and at this point you likely have an idea on the direction you want to take your career.  Whether you want to follow an Academic path or going into Industry, it’s always a great idea to assess your strengths and weaknesses as well as your interests and try to determine if your chosen career path meshes well with your personality.

Below are several tools that you can use to help you learn about your personality and interests.  Each tool will help you determine

Meyers Briggs Assessment

“It’s so incredible to finally be understood.”

Take this Personality Test and get a ‘freakishly accurate’ description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.

  1.  Takes less than 12 minutes.
  2. Answer honestly, even if you don’t like the answer.
  3. Try not to leave any “neutral” answers.

Disc assessment

This free DISC personality test lets you determine your DISC type and personality profile quickly. Find out how the DISC factors, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance predict your behavior towards others and the everyday things you do.

This online DISC assessment is designed to test personality by calculating your personal DISC profile based on your everyday typical behavior. Simply fill out the inventory like you would with other online personality tests. It’s quick and without any obligations. Every year millions of people take DISC personality tests!

Using a Decision Matrix

A decision-making matrix is a great tool to compare alternative paths using criteria that are most important to you. This decision-making method is credited to Benjamin Franklin, who called it “Moral or Prudential Algebra” in personal letters in 1772. I adapted his method to decision-making about career paths or job options.  Download a copy here.

For this tool to be useful, the following conditions must be true:

  • You have already engaged in sufficient career exploration that you know what factors are important to you in a career or job.
  • You have narrowed your options to a small number of possible choices.

If you are at an earlier stage of career development so that you do not yet know what you want, it would be better to postpone using this tool until you have gained more clarity. This tool is better designed for late stage decision-making.

Here are instructions to use this method:

1. First, decide what you want in your next career path. For illustration, I’ll use the example, of Mary, an elementary school science teacher who is considering going back to school to pursue a health care career.

Mary knows that she wants these factors in her career:

  • She wants to work in the health care field.
  • She desires to earn $75K/year if she works full-time.
  • She would like a high status job. She compares all health care jobs against what she perceives as the most prestigious role in a hospital: physician. (Note how subjective this factor is…that happens sometimes with decision-making but since Mary is trying to optimize her happiness, it is OK that we are using Mary’s subjective rating about how much status a profession has.)
  • Because she has limited savings and she is concerned about student loans, she does not want to be training for more than five years.
  • She wants to be fairly confident that when she completes training, she will be able to land a job, so she wants there to be high demand for the career she chooses.
  • She wants the flexibility of working part-time if she decides to do so.

(For examples of the types of things that people value in their careers, here is a checklist of work values.)


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