Monday, October 26, 2009

Personal career inventory

The Austin Job Seeker's Network is running a series of classes on figuring out who you are and what you will find joy doing as a vocation. I've recently gone through much of this on my own, but decided to take the free class to see what I might have missed.

The first day they gave us a lot of homework. I'm not going to walk you through the steps of the homework. I'm only going to document my results here. They identified 5 high-level categories for self-assessment.

A standard Myers-Briggs personality test. As usual I tested out as an INTJ:
Introverted - 67%
Intuitive - 75%
Thinking - 1%
Judging - 11%

That is a 'Rational: Mastermind' on the Keirsey types list.
* "When it comes to their own areas of expertise -- and INTJs can have several -- they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don't know.  INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake. "
* "All Rationals are good at planning operations, but Masterminds are head and shoulders above all the rest in contingency planning. Complex operations involve many steps or stages, one following another in a necessary progression, and Masterminds are naturally able to grasp how each one leads to the next, and to prepare alternatives for difficulties that are likely to arise any step of the way. Trying to anticipate every contingency, Masterminds never set off on their current project without a Plan A firmly in mind, but they are always prepared to switch to Plan B or C or D if need be."
* There is no doubt that my temperment is INTJ. These people have me pegged.

I don't remember seeing the Thinking and Judging preferences so low (borderline Sensing and Perceiving, respectively) before.  So I'm going to look at the analogs a bit to see if perhaps I bleed over into any of those three categories:

The border-sharing types are:
INFJ - Idealist Counselor
* "Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists -- INFJs gravitate toward such a role -- are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power."
* Very closely related to INTJ. INTJs build systems based upon information. INFJs build systems based upon people.
* "Blessed with vivid imaginations, Counselors are often seen as the most poetical of all the types, and in fact they use a lot of poetic imagery in their everyday language. Their great talent for language-both written and spoken-is usually directed toward communicating with people in a personalized way. Counselors are highly intuitive and can recognize another's emotions or intentions - good or evil - even before that person is aware of them. Counselors themselves can seldom tell how they came to read others' feelings so keenly."
* Much of the rest of the INFJ descriptions resonate with me.

INTP - Rational Architect
* "INTPs are pensive, analytical folks. They may venture so deeply into thought as to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them.  Precise about their descriptions, INTPs will often correct others (or be sorely tempted to) if the shade of meaning is a bit off. While annoying to the less concise, this fine discrimination ability gives INTPs so inclined a natural advantage as, for example, grammarians and linguists.  INTPs are relatively easy-going and amenable to almost anything until their principles are violated, about which they may become outspoken and inflexible. They prefer to return, however, to a reserved albeit benign ambiance, not wishing to make spectacles of themselves. "
* "They are the master designers of all kinds of theoretical systems, including school curricula, corporate strategies, and new technologies. For Architects, the world exists primarily to be analyzed, understood, explained - and re-designed. External reality in itself is unimportant, little more than raw material to be organized into structural models. What is important for Architects is that they grasp fundamental principles and natural laws, and that their designs are elegant, that is, efficient and coherent."
* The rest of this description does not seem to fit me. But I do soemtimes get so deep in thought that I forget about life going on around me--just ask my proor wife.

INFP - Idealist Healer
* I don't feel like this description identifies me at all.

They recommended a Holland Inventory. I tried two different ones and came up with "IR" and "IRS". That is "Investigative", "Realistic", and to a lesser degree "Social".

The sites with job listings sorted by these interests seemed very random to me. They suggested everything from anesthesiologist to dentist to economist to programmer to analyst.

I don't feel like I gained anything from these tests.

They had several different skills list/tests. This one was the easiest for me to understand and do:

Here are your Scores in the following categories:
* Communication: 76%
* Researh & Planning: 94%
* Human Relations: 58%
* Organization, Management & Leadership: 75%
* Work Survival: 83%

The Research and Work Survival scores feel high. The Communication score feels a little low. But this is such a self-fulfilling type of self evaluation that I don't think there is a ton of value here.

These tests didn't seem to lead to any specific work recommendations. But they do provide some guidance, I guess.

They pointed me to two value checklists. I read through their instructions and descriptions and rated each one. That gave me 6 top-ranked personal values. I had 6 blanks on my paper, so that worked out well.

In no certain order:
* Help Society
* Make Decisions
* Knowledge
* Intellectual Status
* Creativity
* Moral Fulfillment

I don't think I learned much from this exercise. I think that this could be done much better. But I don't see the value because it doesn't lead to specific work-type recomendations.

Personal Experiences:
They gave me 6 essay questions. I've tried to be very brief:
1. What are my personal hot buttons and passions?
* Injustice
* Aim before Firing
* I appreciate the positive disruptive power of innovation

2. What makes me joyful, angry, or really stirs my emotions?
* Worship and praise make me joyful
* I enjoy teaching willing learners
* I enjoy figuring out solutions to difficult problems

3. What unique experiences have I had that give me a different perspective on life?
* Very broad reading and study
* Successful self-directed diet

4. Should I incorporate those into my career choice or be prepared to discuss them in an interview?
* For a traditional job, no. For a writing job, yes.

5. Describe 3-4 projects/experiences (paid or unpaid) which I found fulfilling?
* Preaching the revival in Trinidad was very fulfilling. I got back on the plane knowing that I had done everything I was capable or, and so much more.
* Many times I worked out super-complex technical problems and found solutions (or at least determined causes.)
* I studied the maturity life-cycle of a Professional Services organization within a product company, and then designed a program to increase the maturity of our organization.

6. If you had the opportunity to do anything you wanted to do, and you had all the resources necessary, what would you do?
(This is one of the questions I like to use when interviewing. So I thought this one through years ago.)
* I would write my political and economic manifesto, form my own political party, research and test new forms of direct-democracy government, and work to replace existing governments with direct-democracy experiments.

I'm not convinced that I gained a whole lot from much of that.  But I said I would do it for the class, and so I did.  Maybe the class will do more with the results than I can see from here.

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