5 Steps of Proactive Career Planning – Step 1.


My June 4, 2014, blog introduced the Five Steps of Proactive Career Development created by the Illinois Career Development Association (ICDA).

Here is the first step in a bit more detail.

Step 1.  Assess your interests, personality type, generic and transferable skills and values.

This step is, indeed, both the best place to begin and return to any time there is a major change in your life, especially any time you find yourself at another career decision-making fork in the road.  The following types of assessments can help you gather the most current and complete information about YOU and help you to choose a “best fit” college and major now and “best fit” career choices throughout your adult life.


The world is a big place. Consider taking an assessment that exposes you to the world of work before you settle on one area of interest.  And, be aware that there may be a difference between a field in which you might be interested today and the interest you may or may not have doing the actual tasks within that field in the future. I’ve worked with many adults over many years who thought they would like a certain field because they were, once upon a time, interested in studying the corresponding subject matter, only to find that they did NOT actually enjoy the DOING of their work. Sad, isn’t it? So, to minimize the likelihood of that happening to you, please DO take your interest assessments seriously and consider the potential for your enjoying the DOING of a particular type of work as much if not more so than assessing what subject matter you might be interested in studying.

Personality Type

Personality assessments can identify career options that are suited to someone who thinks, solves problems, communicates, and makes decisions in the same way as you. So when you take this type of assessment it is really important that you’re answering the questions as your best and most natural self, being true to who you are. You’ll want to reference positive situations from your own life experiences where you felt fulfilled and energized.  If you maintain this mindset while taking a personality assessment the chances are you’ll get better results for identifying the types of work to which you might be well suited.

Generic and transferable skills

Hopefully you will always be learning new things.  Taking stock of what you can do AND enjoy doing ought to be a lifelong process.   The sum total of your best skills and competencies WILL hopefully grow throughout your lifework experience.  And, you may even find that how you prioritize which skills you want to add and/or develop may change at any time depending on your experiences. So, where you need to identify and assess your current skills for applications, essays and internships now, you’ll need to re-evaluate them regularly throughout adulthood for your ongoing career development.


Surely, your values are subjective and are likely to change as you meet new people and have new experiences.  Know that what you think and feel about yourself, the world and your place in it IS important. YOUR thoughts and feelings ARE valid and will likely have a major impact on the degree of satisfaction and ‘fit’ between you and the work you do and the environment in which you do it. So, check in with yourself from time to time to see how your values may have changed. In fact, your college experience may change how you look at things and that change in perspective can result in a change in your values which WILL, in turn, impact your lifework decisions going forward.

Well, there you have it, a major list of things to assess now and throughout your lifetime. So, after all this, the big POINT here IS, before making any major decisions, KNOW THYSELF!!! And, happy assessing!!



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