Self-assessment is a process of self-discovery. Through this process, an individual can clarify how their preferences and other characteristics relate to the world of work. In models of career development (including ours at UC Berkeley), self-assessment is usually shown as an early step or phase. But it’s also ongoing: through experience over time, our understanding of what is important to us continues to develop. Interests, personality type (or work style), preferred skills, and values are helpful areas to revisit periodically.
In each of these areas, there are differences among effective, talented people. These differences can contribute to the success of a project, team, or work group because members’ diverse skills, approaches, and ways of thinking can complement each other. In managing your own career as an individual, understanding your unique set of preferences and strengths helps you set a direction. When alignment is good between a person’s preferences, values, work role and other characteristics, they are often more satisfied AND more effective. Although “perfect” 100% alignment is unlikely, understanding yourself lets you steer a more informed course, which in turn helps you identify pertinent skills to develop, and growth experiences to seek out.
There are many ways to understand yourself better in relation to work and career. Real-world experience is one important avenue. There are also many effective self-assessment tools and exercises. These can be visualized as a variety of “lenses” for bringing pertinent facets of self (such as interests and values) into focus. The self-assessment section of the online Career Development resources http://hrweb.berkeley.edu/learning/career-development/self-assessment is a good place to start. The Career Development Program for UC Berkeley Staff offers several self-assessment tools and exercises through workshops and individual career counseling.