The Howard Group


Career Assessment

The first step in a successful job search is deciding WHAT YOU WANT TO DO!  You are about to embark on a journey which will lead you to your next career position.  How will you get there if you don’t know exactly where you want to go?  This career assessment exercise will help you determine your “career destination.”

Also, your assessment picture will help eliminate that vague, “gut feeling” approach to job hunting and replace it with a black-and-white picture of what you require from a position.  This is a brainstorming exercise.  The objective is to determine your primary strengths, skills and interests, and set priorities in terms of what characteristics you want your next position to have.  You should end the exercise with a much clearer focus.

The results of this exercise will affect your happiness (and perhaps longevity) in your next position through outlining your priorities.  The next time you are considering a job change or job offer, you can ask yourself, “Does the position satisfy my needs?”  From this exercise you will have a better understanding of what those needs are. You can pinpoint why you would make a career move or, accept or decline an offer.  Perhaps you can negotiate your needs into the next position or offer; perhaps not.  In any case, you are now making conscious, rational decisions based on a more thorough self-evaluation.


Part One

Part one of the Assessment Picture is a brainstorming exercise.  Listed below are seven categories.  For each category, list your strengths and interests.  Write down everything that comes to mind, and don’t worry about ranking your ideas according to importance.  The point of this exercise is simply to get you to think about your strengths, skills and interests, and about what is important to you in a job.


In this section, begin listing skills you have acquired during the past 10 years in your career.  If you are having trouble remembering all the skills you have, think of:

Ø      Past responsibilities

Ø      Past achievements

Ø      Special recognition you have received from supervisors, customers, vendors

When listing your skills, be as specific as possible.  The more specific you are, the easier it will be to target your job requirements.  Below are examples of the thought processes you may want to go through to determine your skills.


Accomplishment you remember:           

Enjoy working on projects from conception to completion where team effort is required for success.

Translated skill:                                 Project Management

Accomplishment you remember:           

I completed a conversion of a manual accounting system to a computerized operation which resulted in labor savings of over $200,000 in the first year.

Translated skill:                                 Computer skills

Accomplishment you remember:                       

I redesigned a conveyor packaging line which improved productivity by over 30% in the first six months of operation. 

Translated skill:                                 Process improvement

Accomplishment you remember:           

I created a company-wide newsletter that boosted employee morale with frequent open communication.

Translated skill:                                 Writing/Employee retention and motivation

Accomplishment you remember:           

I improved customer relations by conducting satisfaction surveys which more accurately measured our company’s performance.

Translated skill:                                 Marketing research

Accomplishment you remember:           

I actively interfaced with customers, which helped to develop strong client relationships with these accounts. 

Translated skill:                                 Client relationships/Customer service

Now list your own . . .













Interpersonal Skills

In this section, think in terms of your personality traits. For example:

Ø      Do you prefer working with a team or individually assigned to projects?

Ø      Do you like to interface with customers?

Ø      Do you like a strong manager who gives specific instructions and monitors results closely?

Ø      Do you prefer an opportunity which allows for more independence of action and creativity?

Ø      Do you like meeting with people and making presentations?

Ø      Do you enjoy individual responsibility and authority to carry out projects?

Ø      Do you want to manage people?

Ø      Are you patient and understanding of other people’s feelings and points of view?

Ø      Do you like to interface frequently with co-workers or do you prefer to work alone?

Now list your own . . .

Interpersonal Skills:












Education / Special Knowledge / Certificates

In this section, list the following:

Ø      Degrees

Ø      Special training

Ø      Seminars

Ø      Special courses

Ø      On-the-job training

Ø      Certificates you have received

Examples could be:  Formal education, Computer literacy courses, Dale Carnegie, Management training, etc.

Now list your own . . .

Education / Special Knowledge / Certificates:








Working Conditions / Environment

In this section, list the requirements you have for the type of environment you would like to work.  For example: 

Ø      Do you want to work inside or outside?

Ø      Are you comfortable working from your home?

Ø      Will you travel?  If so, what percentage are you willing to spend overnight?

Ø      Do you like a structured work environment with set rules and policies, found in larger, more traditional companies?

Ø      Do you like smaller more entrepreneurial companies?

Ø      Do you want the option of flex-time?

Ø      What hours are you willing to work?  Evenings?  Weekends?  Overtime?

Ø      Will you accept temporary or part-time employment?

Now list your own . . .

Working Conditions / Environment:










In this section, list the geographical areas where you are willing to live and work.  If you are not willing to relocate, simply list the name of your town and others surrounding it where you will commute.  If you are willing to relocate, think about the following:

Ø      What regions or states would you prefer to live?

Ø      Is overseas an option?

Ø      What areas will you absolutely not move to?

Ø      Commuting time?

Now list your requirements . . .













Compensation / Benefits

In this section, list the requirements you have for your compensation and benefits package.  Be aware, your answers in the Geography section may affect your answers in this section.  For example, if you decide you are not willing to relocate, that decision may affect your compensation and benefits package.  Some issues to consider in this section are:

Ø      What is the minimum base salary you will accept?

Ø      How important are benefits?

Ø      How many weeks vacation do you want?

Ø      What type of retirement/pension plan do you want?

Ø      Do you desire an equity position in your next company?

Ø      Do you want a company car?

Ø      Would you like any extras, such as health club membership, paid parking, etc.?

Ø      Be reasonable.

Now list your own . . .

Compensation / Benefits:











In this section, think of what you want to accomplish in your next position.  As a stepping stone in your career, what do you want this next position to offer you in terms of career growth?  It may help you to answer the following questions:

Ø      What are you looking for in terms of career advancement?

Ø      How important is job stability (A company’s size may influence your decision)?

Ø      What do you want the job to offer in terms of personal growth and prestige?

Ø      Do you want a variety of responsibilities?  In what areas?

Now list your own . . .










Part Two

The answers in the above sections will now be prioritized by you in terms of highest importance in satisfying your personal and career goals.  Use a “David Letterman” approach – create your own top ten list!  The list will contain points from each of the areas above.  For example, your number one priority may be to relocate to Chicago (from the Geography section), and your number two priority may be to earn $50,000 (from the Compensation / Benefits section).

Priorities in My Job Search 

Job Priorities

In Order of Importance to You





















This list will likely change as you discover new interests and opportunities throughout your search.  We suggest you re-do this process every few weeks.  Your priorities will change if you are not getting the results you want in the time frame you have set for certain goals.  The important thing is to start your list now and continue to revise it as your wants and needs change.

You should use your Top Ten list to evaluate potential opportunities. The next section will help you create questions for potential employers to match your priorities to the position.    

Questions to Ask Employer

 How do you determine if a position you are interviewing for fulfills your Top 10 priorities?  ASK!!  List below 10 questions you can ask an employer to investigate whether the job fulfills your needs.

Priority from Top 10 List


Related Question































Many job seekers have taken the time between positions to take a thorough look at what might make sense for a new beginning, while others have spent just a few hours. The true basis for this decision rests with answering this question: “Professionally, what do I really enjoy and what will make me happy?”

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"From the first phone call I had with The Howard Group to the very last one, it was nothing but – Professionalism!"

"The time you spent with me to ensure a solid match is the mark of a pro. I now realize that you wanted to make sure this change was good for all parties concerned."