Archive for the ‘Assessment’ Category

Do you love Mr. Selfridge? Do you relate?

April 30, 2014

So who are you?

The folks who publicize the shows in the Masterpiece series have done it again.  Not content with a quiz to identify your counterpart in Downton Abbey, they’ve done a quiz for Mr. Selfridge.  You can answer a few questions and find out who you resemble by going to Which Character are You?

Now I’ll confess a chilling secret.  I turned out to resemble Lady Mae Loxley.  I protest, I think.

But it does cause me to think about what women did with their power in the early part of the twentieth century.  I guess she did what she had to do, and you just know more is coming.  I’ll be watching.

I can’t wait to hear from you about your test results.

Acknowledging Type

December 17, 2012

We interrupt this series on gift-giving to mention a recent article in the Washington Post called Does it pay to know your type?  Those of us who happen to think that – yes – it does pay to know your type were delighted to read that the MBTI is now 50 years old and still being used.

I loved reading and being reminded of the history of the MBTI, its vast success in the business world, and the ongoing criticism that it has really not been rigorously tested in the same ways other psychometric instruments have been.  Do check out the link if only to see what personality types are connected to which celebrity.

Who knew that I’m a Ben Franklin married to Mother Theresa?  And a mother of Andrew Carnegie and Oscar Wilde?

Check it out.  You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t only hear the obvious!

September 11, 2011

Shun focus groups.  This is a trait ascribed to Steve Jobs, recently departing CEO of Apple.  Leander Kahney writes in Newsweek that Jobs would take a new product prototype home and use it for months before continuing production.  This must have heavily weighted his decision.

Talk about trust in yourself!  With vast resources at stake, would you trust your own reaction to a new product before giving the go-ahead to production?

A confident person would.

So what about the job search?

The tests you’ve taken say something.  Feedback from counselors says something.  Articles about occupational outlook say something.  So that should add up to wisdom, right?  Then there’s that pesky matter of your own heart.  A whiny, insistent little voice keeps saying, “but I want…..”

As one of those career counselors who gives feedback on assessments, I want you to listen to conventional wisdom.  I want you to explore the Bureau of Labor Statistics for job outlooks.  But most of all, I want you to listen to yourself.

How many friends do you have?

July 20, 2011

The folks at WordPress have asked us to ponder how many friends we have.

I  find this question important as a career counselor.  The answer becomes a tool for maintaining rapport and empathy with another person.

With a person who seems to have many friends, I assume that he or she also wants many interests, many tasks in a day’s work.  Keep it interesting!  Stimulating!

With a person of a few friends of many years’ duration, I can guess that loyalty and autonomy are desired workplace conditions. Here’s someone who cries out for trust, depth, and self-structuring at work.

I’m sometimes wrong about these assumptions, but not often.  These connections come from the characteristics of extraverts and introverts, from the Jung-based Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

A few friends or many?   That depends on who you are.

Online Career Help Right Now

April 17, 2011

Would you like a fresh look at your interests and where they can take you?

Having identified those interests, would you like to see what you might do with another layer of education or training?

I discovered a resource which I’ll be recommending to clients and blog followers (the price is right – free!).

It’s an assessment called My Next Move.

While browsing The Career Clinic, one of my favorite sites, I happened upon the podcast of a recent interview with Margaret Riley Dikel, known to so many in the career world for The Riley Guide. The Riley Guide is one of those sites that you visit to be surprised, updated, and inspired by what you find there.  The author of the site does her homework:  she keeps up with what’s happening, and I’m grateful.

Back to My Next Move.  It uses the familiar RIASEC code to identify career options for those who answer its 60 questions.  I’m here to testify that my own answers came out as expected (I’m Artistic, Social and Enterprising).  The examples of jobs in that field did kind of surprise me – along with social service positions, I might be interested in being a professor of architecture, which I find a scary thought, as well as clergyperson, almost as scary. In short, I found the assessment accurate in the large concepts of identifying my interest groups and fun in its illustrations.

So thank you, Maureen, for highlighting the work of such a distinguised guest.  And thank you, Margaret, for all you do to enlighten the rest of us.

Finding your way in the Recession

January 22, 2011

How does the Recession hurt your business?  I’m not referring to the usual stories about loss of revenue and subsequent lay-offs, but rather how tough times might cause people to lose sight of their goals or even change them in uncomfortable ways.  Today’s blog posting is by a guest, who wishes only to be identified as design studio principal in Baltimore, MD. In DSP‘s words,

“The year 2008 was the best year, in terms of revenue, for my award winning design studio.  2009 was 30% down from 2008; and, 2010 was 50% down from 2008.  During the heyday of 2008, I was too busy to reflect upon whether or not I was fulfilled by my work; and, I was distracted by the inflow of money.

My first response to the Recession, which I began to feel in June 2009, was to join a small business owners’ group so as to apply some conventional business strategies to my design studio.  For example, I redesigned my website to make it more “accessible” (read “commercial”).  This was a mistake.  The quality of commissions since 2009 fell dramatically.  Clients were no longer going with our best work; they were selecting the most banal options and “dumbing them down” even further.  We stopped entering competitions.

By autumn of 2010, I was becoming desperate, thinking of abandoning my practice and returning to school for a doctorate in architectural history and theory, or some other less reasonable pursuit. It had taken me 18 months to realize that I was simply bored with the content of my work, and that even if revenues increased again, I did not want to continue doing what I had been doing.  This was a significant turning point.

One thing I knew was that I needed a process to tame the wildly divergent thoughts going through my head.  I called Anne Headley after an internet search for a career counselor, and took the aptitude tests she recommended.  By the time we met, I felt like I was getting back onto more solid ground.

Looking at all of my options, I realized that I could improve the intellectual content of my work within the framework of the design studio I had built.  This subtle shift in thinking has opened up a lot of new possibilities that I am actively pursuing by networking with cultural and not for profit institutions and giving myself the time to initiate projects that focus on the subjects that interest me.  In a sentence, the Recession—albeit through a painful process—led me to get into better touch with my core values and to make better use of my time going forward.”

AH here: thank you for sharing your insight.  If I understand you, you are saying that when you compromise your goals, you lose enthusiasm, creativity vanishes, and the business you do attract doesn’t do a darned thing to restore what you had before.  Wow!

I cannot say that there is anything wrong with adjusting your message to accommodate to the Recession, but clearly you gave up a focus that was very important to your mission.

I’m so glad that you woke up, that the aptitude assessments reminded you of your gifts, and that you have recaptured your energy.  Thank you for being willing to share this story.  It’s not something one hears every day.

Jobhunting while working: how do you do it?

December 2, 2010

When a client faces the reality that it is time to change jobs, the thought of exploring, networking, and scheduling interviews looms large.  How can you be discreet and effective?  How can you dress for an interview without attracting undue notice?  If your boss finds out, could you be fired?  How will you handle a request for references?

For the next few postings, I plan to address this topic.  But I can’t do it alone.  I need your input.  Please add your experiences, so that other readers can benefit from your experience.  There isn’t any ironclad rule here, just what works for you.

I’d like to start with clothing.  In most cases, people tend to dress more casually than they would for an interview. Haven’t we all seen someone show up at work freshly coiffed, tell-tale navy blue, shiny dark shoes, a faraway look?  It is so obvious it’s painful.

There are two ways to avoid this I’ve got an interview look.

  1. Take annual/personal leave, go home and change clothes.  If you’re dressed as usual in the office, a new haircut won’t be noticed.  Or schedule your interview for first thing in the morning and come in late after scheduling some sudden leave.  Leave the blazer in the car, put on a more casual top and shoes.
  2. Start now, before anything is scheduled, to upgrade your office attire.  Suits, shoes, jewelry can all become part of your new image.  It will be a challenge to keep up this new look, but it might do good things for your reputation where you are.  And it’s true – you never know who might drop into the office.

I happen to prefer the second option.  It seems to me that you are putting forth a new you, one who is ready to advance in the world.  As the old cliche goes, you are ready to bloom where you are planted.

What have you done in such a situation?  How might you answer questions about why you are dressed that way?

We all look forward to reading your comments.

Top Ten Holiday Gifts for 2010: student edition

November 27, 2010

This year, I had the opportunity to spend some time with seniors at St. Mary’s College, the public honors college in Maryland.  To me, they are dream students: articulate, accomplished in their major fields, already drawing on their liberal arts orientation to discuss their lives across academic disciplines. They are tuned in to their options, open about acknowledging their apprehension about life after graduation, and willing to take in new information about what can help.

They also shared what they need to make the transition from student in a very casual, small-town environment to successful jobhunter in (for many) a major metropolitan area.  I am indebted to them for the following list, some of which they specifically suggested, some of which I perceived:

  1. A briefcase.  Because college students are vastly more eco-aware than their elders, be careful about the material.  In addition to leather, there are classy-looking briefcases in hemp, canvas, and other acceptable materials.  It’s all a step up from manila folders or (worse) a sheaf of papers fluttering around.
  2. Business cards.  Does everyone know about  I don’t usually give a plug to commercial businesses, but I happen to love this company. For the price of shipping, you can custom-order 500 free cards.  It’s a really grown-up thing to do.  Plus, you’ll be able to buy an impressive card holder.  The internet has not done away with the need for cards.
  3. An outfit for interviews or that first job.  If you don’t know the person’s precise size and taste, a gift certificate to a shop known for professional attire will be appreciated.
  4. Understanding and patience.  They haven’t even graduated, and already they are sick of the “So, what are you going to do next?” stuff.  If they had an answer, they’d tell you.  It’s embarrassing.  It feels like a failure.  So cool it.  If you are a person who has paid for this education, you are understandably nervous about this question, but – believe me – wait a bit.  The students tell me they would love to be met with a show of confidence that it’s all going to work out.  They particularly do not want to hear about the sure-fire careers they could have gone into like their cousin.
  5. A gadget for their gadgets.  It embarrasses me to admit that I can’t be very specific here. You can research this matter on a blog about blogs about electronic stuff.  Plan to spend some time at  Twelve great gadget blogs for the smart holiday shopper.
  6. Credit for their Skype account – yes, there are some employers who are doing screening interviews in this way.  If they are like me, they will also appreciate a copy of Skype for Dummies, which has lots of tips. On second thought, if they are skyping, they probably don’t need the book.
  7. A gym membership.  Be tactful here. No comments about weight.  Remember that productive conversations can take place in this environment, and your young friend needs a new set of friends, the kind with jobs.
  8. A career consultation.  I’m talking about a coach or a counselor, someone with experience with the new graduate population.  I hope that your young person had access to (and made good use of) a college career center, but that was then and this is now.  If you decide to go this route, ask the career specialist for a reference or two by a client in a similar situation.  I am constantly amazed by the number of people who don’t ask me for references.  There is the problem of confidentiality, but most of us have many clients, satisfied with their work with us, who would be happy to give out a first name and a phone number.
  9. A consultation with a specialist to evaluate and enhance your online reputation.  This is one of the Top Ten suggestions for anyone of any age who is in the process of entering the job market, but it is of the utmost importance for this age group.  If you are worried about your relative/friend’s silly, juvenile, formerly-hilarious online photos and postings,  you can offer to fund a consultation with someone who can find those unprofessional references and remove or minimize them.  There is a special skill in cleaning up one’s social profile, enhancing work experience on LinkedIn, posting a book or product review, or using a website as a display of one’s accomplishments. We all want to be seen as serious candidates, right? You might want to check out a very interesting story on the blog of my British friend Chris Hall.  Hall’s blog was just picked up by the London Times which narrated the story about a new college graduate who posted his credentials online and attracted all kinds of job offers.
  10. A book.  See the previous blog postings for a lengthier recommendation of appropriate books.  These three works are written for young people:
  • Graham, Shawn, Courting your Career (Jist, 2008).  This is a fun and creative book that develops the similarities between establishing a romantic relationship and finding a job.  It’s clever and filled with truth.
  • Pink, Daniel, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko (Riverhead Books, 2008).  For the techie or anime lover in your life.  Reads like a comic book, filled with basic career wisdom.  My teen-aged grandson has no idea he is reading something useful.  He just likes the book.
  • Reeves,Ellen Gordon, Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? (Workman, 2009). This book covers basics for the new graduate, such as what to put on the resume, how to dress, what to expect in interviews, how to talk about salaries.  The format is very clearly divided into sections, which will appeal to those who don’t sit down and read a book from start to finish.

For three years, I have published a Top Ten gift list for the unemployed.  The previous posting has this year’s list, my antidote to Black Friday’s commercial offerings.  I hope you will also read that list and find just the right gift for your relative or friend who is trading up from education to employment.  Wrap the gift with patience, love, and empathy, for we all need that during transition times.  Happy Shopping!

Online resources for jobhunters (1)

February 21, 2010

Recently, the Department of Labor polled 16,000 people on their favorite online resources in looking for a job.  The DOL has released its top ten sites, and I plan to visit each of them and summarize a few that I find unusual and easy to use.  For a complete list, you can go to

I’m interested in  I don’t really know much about it, but I’ve got several clients working on it now.  It looks easy to use, and so for minimal effort, you can get your credentials out there where someone might be looking.  Do you have any experience with Greenjobs?  I’d love to read a comment from someone who has used this site.

If you have a useful online resource, feel free to share that reference with us in the comment section.  We can all use a new source of information or job openings.

Career Choice: Keeping it Simple

October 20, 2009

A client who is seeking a new direction, away from the really boring work she’s doing now, recently received a fascinating piece of advice.  She said that the other day, her young son, overhearing her expressing frustration with her current situation, said, “Mommy, why don’t you just do something you like?”

I love this.  I should hire the kid as an assistant, right?  But wait, if everyone knew that choosing something you like is at the core of career counseling, my whole industry could fold up and go home.  Think about it:  what do you like to do?

  • chat with people,
  • make the money stretch,
  • dress up and go out to lunch,
  • solve a problem,
  • persuade people to do it your way,
  • correct others’ grammar and spelling,
  • raise money,
  • read something new,
  • fix something that’s broken,
  • give a speech,
  • taste frosting mixes.

Okay, probably kidding about that last one.  It’s not that your whole paid job is doing something that you like, but it’s a great place to begin your self-assessment.

What do I like to do?  I actually love listening to people’s stories, focusing on how they got from there to here, and where they’ll be going next.  Their style of decision-making, their ability to roll with bad situations, their willingness to let friends help them, their courage in walking away from something that’s not working out — these are all considerations in helping people make their next career moves.  I consider it a privilege to be part of someone’s life for a little while.  That’s what career counseling means to me.

If you would like to talk with me about how you would like to adjust your career toward something that you like, please visit my website at for contact information.  Remember, that’s what I love to do.