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This post is the 2nd in a series of 5 posts regarding career development planning.  You can find earlier posts in the series by clicking here.

The “Pathway to a Successful & Satisfying Career” includes four key steps:

  1. Assessment
  2. Alignment 
  3. Campaign, and
  4. Ongoing Reflection & Transformation

Assessing Your Unique Parameters

This post will address the Assessment phase.  The Assessment phase is the use of tools to help you identify your unique parameters, including your:

  • Natural Abilities
  • Interests
  • Skills
  • Values
  • Family Background
  • Career Goals
  • Personal Style,  and
  • Career Experience

Types & Use of Assessment Tools

There are numerous assessment tools available that attempt to help measure these parameters.  Many of the devices rely on subjective methods. Subjective methods are “self-reported,” that is, your reflection and feedback on how you feel or what you believe about yourself at the moment in time.  While self-reported methods are helpful, the results tend to change over time, depending upon changes in your circumstances.

To complement the process, you should also include objective assessment methods. Objective methods are valid and reliable measures of your actual responses.  Typically, objective assessment tools compare your answers to the answers of a larger population. Objective tools use statistical sampling and validation to ensure the accuracy of the results.

Ideally, the assessment phase also includes help from a trained coach or counselor to help you gain a better understanding of your unique parameters.  The coach or counselor can help you interpret the results and see the connection from what you are doing today to what may be a better “fit” for you in the future.  Ultimately, you choose what career options may be best for you.  However, the coach or counselor provides broader insight and wisdom to help you apply the information. Your coach or counselor will also provide a source of accountability to help keep you moving forward.

Start With Your Natural Abilities

Most people start by assessing their interests or passions when considering their career options.  Interests and passions are critical to selecting a career, but they change over time, sometimes quite often.  Is it a good idea to base your career options based mainly on your interests and passions?  Consider the implications if your interests and passions are not sustainable (you will lose interest over time) or are not economically viable (not offering enough of a return on your investment).  You will find yourself changing careers more often than you desire. 

High school students must complete critical assessment work before deciding on a college and career path.  Why spend thousands of dollars and 4+ years of your life on a career path that may not be your best fit?  I meet many young adults saddled with student loan debt that hate their careers, saying, “I based my career choice mainly on my interests, but this is not what I thought it would be.  I need to start over.”

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Natural abilities are the ideal “foundation” from which to start the Assessment phase.  Natural abilities are those things that you were born to do.  Natural abilities come easy to you and provide a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction when you tap into them.  Natural abilities don’t significantly change over time, providing a stable foundation from which to build.  Once you discover and understand your natural abilities, you will be able to articulate what you need to be more efficient and effective in your career.

One of the best objective assessment tools for identifying and understanding your natural abilities is the Highlands Ability Battery (  The Highlands Ability Battery consists of nineteen timed work samples that ultimately help you define your Personal Style, Driving Abilities, and Specialized Abilities.

Reference Point Throughout Life

Your natural abilities will stay with you throughout life, and it is highly likely that you will refer to your natural abilities often during your career.  When you find yourself in a challenging, confusing, or opportunistic career situation, you will refer back to your assessment results for guidance. 

Your Personal Style relates to your ideal work environment, the roles you best play with others, and what types of projects and assignments you will be most effective.  Your ideal work environment relates to your physical surroundings.  Do you work best alone or in a group?  Do you perform best in a specialized role or are you more of a generalist?  How are you energized (substantial interaction with others, one on one, or more solitary)?

Your Driving Abilities are those that will demand expression on the job and in your life.  Driving abilities relate to how you best solve problems or approach opportunities.  Driving abilities define the type of reasoning (convergent or divergent) you use to help make decisions.  Are you a conceptual thinker?  Do you work better with the theoretical or concrete aspects of an issue?  Do you “see” seemingly unrelated connections among ideas or concepts?  Are you good at organizing thoughts or steps in a process?  Your driving abilities will provide you with your most significant level of career satisfaction and likely lead to your highest earning potential.

Your Specialized Abilities define how you best learn and communicate.  Do you learn best through listening, reading, or doing?  Is working with numbers your strong suit?  Can you distinguish different tones, see critical differences via observation, or learn best through charts and graphs?  Your specialized abilities support your driving abilities and give you a way to build upon your natural strengths. 

Identify Your Best Career Options

The culmination of such an assessment of natural abilities results in the identification of “best fit” roles and responsibilities, as well as the identification of “best fit” career options.  You have set the foundation with the identification and understanding of your natural abilities!  Now you can begin to narrow the field of career for consideration. 

Consider the example of an introverted specialist who loves working with numbers and is highly observant.  This individual will likely be very productive and happy in the accounting field.  Likewise, someone who is a generalist, generates lots of ideas, can organize concepts well, and gets their energy being around people would do well in a business role, likely in business development or sales capacity.  You can see how the various combination of natural abilities leads to different career options.

But wait!  There is more work to do in layering in the other essential parameters of your interests, skills, values, family background, career goals, personal style, and career experience.  Additional assessment methods will help you learn more about yourself in each of these areas, and you can further sift through desirable yet realistic career options, leading you to the next phase of Alignment.

Subsequent posts will outline each step of the pathway, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, where are you along the path?  If you need help, a process to follow, or a source of subtle but effective accountability, feel free to contact me at, or visit my website,,  for more information.

I help my clients align their purpose, their passions, and their paycheck to achieve financial freedom while realizing greater professional and personal satisfaction from their careers.

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