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Career checkups (Part 1)
18 February 2007

by Oxford Psychologists Press

The following article is taken from the newsletter for OPP (Oxford Psychologists Press) customers called "OPPINIONS" (issue 23: July 2001). Read step-by-step analysis of the article afterwards to find out why so many people think their type is ENTP.

"Your career, like your body, needs regular checkups to ensure it stays healthy.

Not just for those who have not yet found an occupation, career counselling can also prove very useful to those who are in a job but are looking for a change of direction.

One-to-one counselling sessions, using personality questionnaires and career interest inventories, are the stethoscope and blood pressure monitor of the career checkup. Not only do they help people to better understand themselves and the kind of work they might find to interesting, but they also highlight previously un-thought-of possibilities. Career guidance can be used at all levels: from graduates lacking directions to high level executives who have reached a career plateau and are looking for the next move.

John was in a senior managerial position and had a well-established career path when he approached OPP's consultants. He explained that he had gone as far as he could in his current role and was becoming disillusioned. He wanted to make positive changes to the business but felt that the traditional bureaucratic culture he operated in prevented this. He was frustrated with how things were done, and believed that the rules and procedures he was expected to adhere to did not provide enough variety and scope for innovation.

John was clear about his aims and outlined these at the beginning of his counselling session. He had already had some initial ideas for a new career and wanted to explore these, but was very open to suggestions as to which directions he should take. He particularly wanted to identify or confirm his key strengths and development needs, so that he could use this knowledge to inform his future career choice.

One of our consultants began by discussing John's MBTI® Type. In the feedback session it he said that he enjoys working with others rather than alone, is enthusiastic and energetic, and actively seeks opportunities for change. He is flexible, spontaneous and adaptable, enjoys strategic thinking and logical analysis, and prefers to use an objective approach to implement long-term solutions for people. This Type is known as Extravert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving (ENTP).

These preferences fit extremely well with background information that John had supply before the session. His hobbies mainly revolve around socialising and activities with other people, such as outdoor sports and meeting friends, but he also likes to balance this with the time spent alone engaged in activities like DIY, gardening, music and reading. He has many interests in line with his preference for Extraversion, and his ideal job would include leadership or working as part of a team, decision-making, analytical problem solving and creativity.

The Strong Interest Inventory also reflected what John had written in his biographical questionnaire. His main occupational theme was 'Investigative' showing that he is interested in jobs involving science, research and logical analysis. He particularly enjoys problem solving. His next theme was 'Realistic', with an interest in jobs involving practical or physical work. John confirmed that he is very task-oriented, but stated that his preference for 'realistic' jobs is around producing tangible results rather than 'getting his hands dirty'. Realistic jobs often require manual manual dexterity (eg carpentry), but this fits more with John's hobbies than his career aspirations. The final theme that came was 'Artistic', reflected in jobs such as advertising executives, marketing or public relations. This showed that John enjoys independence and using his creativity. The Strong inventory was in alignment with the MBTI results, highlighting that John would prefer a working style that involves a mixture of working alone and with others, and his preferred learning style is academic not practical.

Putting all the results together highlighted a need for variety, responsibility and working with others. What also came across very strongly was that John particularly like opportunities to be creative and implement new ideas, as long as they produce tangible and practical results.

Scientific jobs such as research and development fit the criteria, and although John found them very appealing, he deemed them impractical because they mostly require specific expertise or qualification that he did not want to pursue at this stage in his life. John felt that public relations, involving creativity and working with others, was a more realistic option, and as he enjoys organising social activities with friends, he felt he could possibly expand on these skills by working as an events co-ordinator.

At the end of the session John needed to go away to consolidate information he had received and research the possible careers of interest. He also needed to look into the qualifications and extra training that might be required. He knew that this might create a barrier owing to the time and money involved, although he was very willing to learn new things. He was particularly keen to build on his managerial skills and find a position were could use his previous experience.

John eventually found a managerial role in public relations company that fitted well with his personality and work style - a fast-moving environment, where people value new approaches and initiative, and where his personal development is supported.

Like a health check, a career checkup may not always be pleasant, but it can give you an enormous amount of information on the current health of your career, and how to improve it."
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