IT and BI Career Development – December 2009

The purpose of the IT Career Assessment is to connect the right people with the right jobs. The tool is designed to help individuals who are planning the next steps of an information technology career. Professionals working in technical fields often find it difficult to distinguish their capabilities without direct links to technology. This assessment overcomes that obstacle by gathering information about motivations, skills, talents, personality and organizational preferences that connect to the roles and responsibilities in information technology.

Information is captured in easy-to-use formats that can be readily evaluated and used as the source for social network profiles, resumes, websites, visual CVs and career planning. The assessment creates an opportunity for open dialog that leads to informative and productive discussions. The act of completing the assessment questions is an introspective experience, and the process of reviewing the results leads to personal insight. In total, the experience helps the professional to fully express what they do well and why they do it well. The goal is to achieve insight that guides a multidimensional and well-balanced career plan or job search – one that looks beyond compensation to examine all aspects of work-related rewards, satisfaction and fulfillment.

In this article, we’ll review how you can use the IT Career Assessment and how to evaluate your results. Information about obtaining complimentary access to the assessment tool will be provided at the end.

OverviewFirst we’ll look at motivations which are your reasons for change – both positive and negative. Then we’ll look at your skills. You’ll rate both your skill level and your interest level for each of the items. Next, we’ll examine the talents section. It’s designed for personal brainstorming to help you evaluate those things that you do naturally well. Distinguishing between skills and talents is a core concept when evaluating your career development options. Both are important to your career – but they are quite different things.

Skills are learned through education and experience. Talents are natural abilities that are nurtured through experience.

Skills are repeatable when applied in similar circumstances. Talents are readily applied in new and different circumstances

Skills are specific, defined and easy to itemize. Talents are abstract, conceptual and somewhat less tangible.

We’ll assess personality and preferences that are a look at how you think, how you act and how you work. Finally we’ll review organizational preferences that are a look at the environment in which you work best, and the responsibilities and culture to which you are best suited.

Motivations, personality and preferences, and organizational preferences help you create the goals and objectives that will drive your career plan – the sequence of steps you’ll take to pursue and achieve your goals. Keep in mind that this will be an iterative process of self-analysis and discovery throughout your career. Skills and talents provide the material for your resume, which should be part of your career planning process and used throughout your career.

MotivationsThe motivation section has two parts: change and opportunity. The change assessment examines what you’d like to move from and the opportunity assessment examines what you’d like to move to. The responses can be evaluated and discussed at the individual row level, the summary level and in combination.

Making a career change can have unexpected and sometimes undesirable consequences. It is beneficial to understand motivations, both positive and negative. Only then can you be aware of what you may lose as well as what you may gain. Knowing why you want to change is as important as your desire to make a change. Never make a change to get away from something. Always make a change to move toward something.

Examples of career change motivators (negative) are:

Boredom: repetitive or unchallenging work

Professional growth: lacks growth opportunity, not enough education and training

Job security: downsizing, outsourcing, poor job outlook in your field

If you are not currently working then consider those jobs you have had the recent past.

Examples of career opportunity motivators (positive) are:

Contribution: a job with more responsibility so that I can make a greater contribution

Interests: a chance to work in a field that I find interesting and intriguing

Technology: a work environment that embraces, acquires and uses cutting-edge technology

SkillsThe skills inventory is representative of a broad range of IT skills, but is not intended to be an exhaustive list. In a rapidly changing field such as IT, a robust and representative list serves the purpose well. The skills assessment rates both level-of-skill and level-of-interest to derive a combined score for each item in the skills inventory. With this approach we can identify: 1) areas where there is high skill but low interest; 2) areas where there is high interest but low skill; and 3) an overall skills index that quantifies skill level in each of ten distinct IT job categories.

Collectively these provide the insight that is needed to focus on the right kinds of jobs and to achieve positive change by knowing both what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.

TalentsThe talents section is designed for personal brainstorming. Collecting gut-level responses, it first gathers preferred words and then preferred combinations of words. Calculations parse out the most desirable words to create a list of nouns and verbs that can be combined into sentences to describe natural talents. Talent brainstorming discovers the things that we do intuitively, naturally, and well in both work and personal lives. The language in this assessment is crafted to align with IT so the most relevant talents can be brought to the surface.

Talents, interests, and skills have a natural affinity, so this activity is particularly useful to discover the right insights to describe an individual as a unique and valuable IT professional. Using this assessment, a person will focus on the “hot spots” from the talents brainstorm to stimulate thought about their natural abilities. The list of words used is by no means complete so don’t hesitate to add your own:

Others have found things such as:

I have a natural ability to communicate complex subjects in easy to understand terms.

I have a natural ability to connect causes with their effects.

I have a natural ability to anticipate side-effects and prevent unintended consequences.

I have a natural ability to figure about how things work and how best to break them.

Personality and PreferencesThis section focuses on language that accurately describes an individual’s characteristics and personality. The multidimensional assessment examines three distinct aspects of personality and related behavioral traits.

How I Think – identifies desired communication style and method of processing information.

It examines:

Are you a thinker or a doer?

Do you prefer words or numbers?

Do you prefer language to be clear and simple or abstract and conceptual?

How I Act – identifies responses to the environment, and evaluation and decision-making behaviors.

It examines:

Do you prefer to lead or to follow?

Do you prefer to work in a team or work solo?

Are you careful and methodical or do you like to take risks?

How I Work – identifies the kinds of activity and working style preferences and behaviors.

It examines:

Do you like to plan? To design? To build? To operate? To service?

Do you prefer to organize and manage or to build and implement?

Do you prefer to plan and design or to troubleshoot and repair?

Organization and ResponsibilitiesThe assessment examines and profiles your affinity for work in various kinds of IT organizations with differences in scope and responsibilities. Information technology work typically segments into three levels – program, project and operations – with each having its own distinct rewards and challenges.

Understanding individual preferences and tendencies helps to align a job search or career plan with the right kinds of work. This is a critical aspect of the overall assessment goal – a balanced career plan with attention to all dimensions of the individual. The assessment answers such questions as:

Do I prefer a program, project or operations environment?

Do I prefer working in an environment which focuses on strategy?

Do you I working on tactical objectives where the projects have defined start and end dates and are generally short in duration?

Do I prefer working in an operations environment where the projects are generally very short-term and have a small scope?

SummaryThis assessment is about you, so sit back and relax. Answer each section using your first gut level response as this is generally the most accurate. Enjoy the process of discovering or rediscovering who you really are.

You can gain complimentary access to the IT Career Assessment Tool by emailing jhay@ITresumeservice.com. You’ll receive a user ID and password so you can assess the tool online. A BI skills version of the assessment is available upon request.

Share

submit to reddit

About Jennifer Hay

Jennifer combines career coaching and resume writing skills with a broad knowledge of information technology to provide specialized and targeted career guidance services to IT professionals. Jennifer's varied background of IT positions, technical training, career counseling, and educational advising make a solid foundation for IT career counseling. Her interest in the human side of career development makes each career plan personal and individualized. Her unique and IT-specific assessment methods help people to make the best career decisions. A disciplined approach to planning and action helps to turn decisions and plans into real career successes. Please visit Jennifer's website or contact her through email at jhay@ITresumeservice.com.

Top