Susmitha Prakash, 29, worked in the content management and search optimization function at an information technology company and had been contemplating a job change for a few months. Prakash, who holds a master’s degree in linguistics, felt stagnation and monotony at her workplace*.
“I was not spending my time well. I wasn’t learning anything new,” says the Bangalore-based manager, who quit her job last month. Prakash, who worked in this job for three-and-a-half years after a stint with a soft skills training firm, says she respected her co-workers and the values that the organization advocated, yet yearned for greater independence to implement her ideas—this was the main reason for her exit.
Prakash had already decided on becoming an entrepreneur, and earlier this month, at Mint’s request, she consented to take human resource firm Manpower Inc.’s Career Leader, an abilities and interest assessment test. She felt that taking the test would help her identify priorities. It did partly.
Test your strengths: To stand out in a crowd, you must know where you can excel
Manpower’s free online career development community, My Path , which has expert bloggers and discussion groups with counsellors, apart from assessment tests such as Career Leader, has 8,000 registered users, mainly from the US. To take the Career Leader test, one needs to visit the above-mentioned url and register for free. “While the key demographic is information technology, engineering and finance professionals in North America, it (the test) is meant for a broad, global audience,” says Mark Jelfs, senior global strategic communications professional, based at Manpower’s headquarters in Milwaukee, over the phone. Manpower plans to launch a dedicated India leg, with counsellors who have expertise in the Indian market, but declined to give specific details.
The Career Leader test, a third-party test developed by a number of Harvard University professors, consists of three parts. According to Jelfs, the test evaluates your interests, finds out where your abilities and strengths lie, and determines which career you are mostly likely to enjoy.
Prakash took the hour-long online test at home and this is how it went for her. The result:
Are you a strategic thinker, able to grasp the big picture and think long term? Are you able to make decisions in ambiguous situations without having full information? The first leg of the test, the Career Abilities Inventory, takes around 10 minutes and involves a self-assessment of your abilities, with questions such as those mentioned above.
Prakash was rated medium on things such as assertiveness, influence and projection of confidence. She has realized she needs to brush up her persuasion skills in order to be able to successfully run her own business. “How will I persuade other people? That’s going to be a very important quality with potential customers and partners,” she says.
Mapping your future
The Career Themes Inventory section takes around 30 minutes. It gives over 150 career options, ranging from chief financial officer and foreign trade negotiator to sports coach, and asks for your likes and dislikes. Based on your answers, it maps your top career themes.
Prakash was found most suitable for community service, public speaking and writing. Prior to the test she had decided to venture into writing; the test reaffirmed her decision by suggesting “writing” as one of the three areas suitable for her.
The third and last section, Career Motivations Inventory, takes around 20 minutes. It attempts to chalk out your priorities at the workplace after getting basic information from you on the nature of your work and responsibilities. Some 13 priorities are pitted against one another, and you have to choose which are most important to you. Variety versus exceptional financial reward. Personal time versus power and influence. Variety versus personal time. Take your pick.
The results showed that Prakash needed an intellectually challenging, powerful and influential position that was at the same time autonomous.
The test results are generated instantly, after the completion of each section, in three separate PDF documents and hosted on the website.
The test helped Prakash identify what motivates her and buttressed her decision to set up her own business, but she felt “...at times the test may not be truly representative. Between work-life balance and intellectually challenging work, I chose intellectually challenging work, but this doesn’t mean that personal time is not a priority.”
*Details of organization withheld on request.