The more you understand yourself and your motivations, the more informed and productive your career search process will be.

Self-assessment is the first step. Start by reflecting on your interests, values, skills, and personality traits, as well as key experiences you’ve enjoyed. Research shows that people most satisfied in their careers are those who are working in jobs that closely align with these areas.

Use the following activities to think about these areas and how they connect to potential career options. Complete them on your own or discuss them with a career counselor.


Knowing who you are and being confident in your identity will help you explore careers and the next phase of your life. We are all defined by our unique personalities, which may include many identities and characteristics that intersect. Some of these identities may be based upon your communities and life experiences. Your identities may be closely tied to your values, interests, social contexts, and self-image.

In this exercise try to reflect deeply on your core self, and not another’s perception of you or who you should be. Try using a mix of descriptors (age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, etc.), adjectives, or communities in which you cconsider yourself a member (first-generation college student, military veteran, etc.) in order to paint a full picture of who you are.


Interests represent things you like to learn about or do as hobbies. Think about anything you enjoy spending your time doing. These interests may give clues to the kinds of careers and jobs you’d enjoy. In this exercise, think about things you really like to do or enjoy learning about.


Values are the beliefs and qualities you consider most important in your career and life. Although they may change over time, you usually keep these throughout your life and they define what is meaningful to you. Values play an integral role in career satisfaction. This exercise will help you prioritize which values are most important to you in your career.


Personality is a combination of qualities that form your distinctive character. These influence how you see, experience, and interact with the world. We all have certain characteristics that feel more comfortable and natural, such as how we gain energy, perceive information, make decisions, and organize our external environments. In this exercise you will have the opportunity to explore how you prefer to navigate the world.


You’ve gained competencies (skills and knowledge) through many of your life experiences. Think about the skills that you’ve used inside and outside of the classroom. You may have developed them through studies, extracurricular activities, clubs, internships, study abroad, and life experiences unique to you. Which skills do you excel in? This list will help you to identify your strong points. Use your skills to help guide you when making career decisions and when transitioning to different fields.

According to a 2016 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the top qualities/skills employers seek in hires are:

  1. Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  2. Ability to work in a team structure
  3. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  4. Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
  7. Technical knowledge related to the job
  8. Proficiency with computer software programs
  9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  10. Ability to sell or influence others

Likes and Dislikes

Reflect on your previous experiences and think about what you liked or disliked in each position. This process may provide you insights about what you like and affect your future career choices. Complete the activity to begin to contemplate your previous experiences.


Next Steps

After completing all the self-assessment exercises, use the self-knowledge you’ve gained to better inform your career development.

  • Use this chart to record the top interests, values, personality traits, identities, and skills you’ve identified through the previous exercises. Use your chart to assess the potential career options you’ve considered, or any careers that may connect to some of your preferences.
  • For further exploration, use these research tools
  • Meet with a CCE career counselor to discuss your results and brainstorm career possibilities.