What should I be when I grow up?

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An important goal for most people is to identify and pursue meaningful work.  What is viewed as meaningful, however, can change throughout the course of one’s career.  At CPI, we find that the question of “What should I be when I grow up?” or “What should I do next with my career/life?”  troubles all generations in the workforce – from the Gen Y novice to the transitioning Baby Boomer. Assessment can play a helpful role in identifying career options, setting longer-term career objectives, pursuing ongoing career development, selecting alternatives during job transition, re-careering, or successfully retiring. 

A typical career assessment battery includes an overall psychological inventory, a temperament indicator, an interest inventory, and a work/life values assessment.  The battery is combined with an interview to further identify strengths, current skills, interests, and factors to include or avoid during career planning. For young people or adults thinking about re-careering, aptitude testing can identify natural aptitudes to leverage when making career decisions.  Depending on the needs of the client, the data collected can be interpreted to identify the following:

  • Appropriate career options
  • Level of aptitude development for roles under consideration
  • Best point of leverage – individual contributor, middle management or upper management
  • Preferred job scope
  • Industry options
  • Elements of “best-match” work environment/employment situation
  • Workstyle considerations for on-boarding
  • Career and leadership development action steps
  • A-vocational interests to pursue during retirement

The majority of transitioning executive clients take advantage of the assessment services provided by CPI.  In so doing, they are better able to focus their job searches, identify target organizations, ask “due diligence” questions, and evaluate job opportunities for goodness of fit.  Assessment can help them select opportunities that provide additional learning and exposure (consistent with their interests) that will move their careers forward. Assessment test results also provide insight that can be leveraged during the on-boarding process.

For the young person seeking to identify a career path, or the adult hoping to make a career change, assessment by itself is not enough.  Additional data should be collected through a combination of occupational research and informational interviews to determine if the career is right for the individual.  This includes data related to the occupational outlook or marketplace need for the job over time. Volunteer or practicum work can also assist candidates in determining if the career is right for them before investing in further education.

At CPI, we believe assessment provides needed insight for individuals along the full career continuum – from career selection, to career development, during transition, through semi or full retirement.   As a result, it can be helpful in answering the question “What should I be when I grow up?” – whether the client is 17 or 70 years of age.


Clare Cavalier

Clare Cavalier

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