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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 19. 3rd August 1972

Testing Your Career Aptitude

page 18

Testing Your Career Aptitude

A recent review of the employment situation in Britain begins with the comment that in their struggle for equal opportunities in employment, women may be in danger of simply achieving an equality of economic enslavement, The estimate in Britain is that about one third of the working population - some 8,000,000 people- are in jobs the are unsuited for or dislike. When job opportunities for women cease to be restricted there will still seem to be one chance in three that they will achieve opportunities which they will find unpleasant.

New Zealand's situation is of course different we don't do it that way here - but if it were, we would have at least one quarter million people working in jobs which they are unsuited for, or dislike. In fact, that number could well be higher because one of the components in labour turnover is dislike of the job, and across the entire working population in New Zealand, the average per annum turnover is about 60%. In some industries it is far higher, (200% in one set of figures I saw some time ago). With specific employers or in certain geographical areas, I have heard almost incredible figures mentioned - 700% in one case. In concrete terms, this means that the lino in the Personnel office has to replaced every six months or so.

Of course, University graduates in their first jobs make a rather more stable group, but it has been known for graduate turnover to reach 90% in some areas. Obviously, a lot more effort needs to be put into gaining a job, not just a better paid job, but a job which is more suitable.

Equally obvious is that a lot of schools abdicate or more frequently, never acknowledge their responsibilities for discovering a pupil's true capacities and ambitions. The 40% or so of last years's school leavers, who proceeded on into work without any formal qualification, and now form part of the large number who drift unsatisfied from one job to another, could have been helped by some vocational guidance, but for them, as for most school leavers, the choice of job, or the choice of units to study depends on whether the English teacher was nicer than the Maths teacher, or whether the school itself streamed above average I.Q.'s into the Maths/Physics/Chem. course as a matter of policy.

Most school leavers seem to be at the mercy of family tradition, parental ego, popular prejudice about "useful courses," or even self-perpetuating specialists, like dedicated English teaching lovers of Marvell.

Besides, for many the decision to seek professional vocational guidance seems to be influenced by their views of Vocational Guidance Officers. A recent News view programme brought this out by asking two school leavers. One said, "I know what I want to do, so Vocational Guidance isn't much use to me, but, I suppose it would be all right if you arn't sure what to do." The other said I dont know what I want to do, so Vocational Guidance can't be much use to me, But I suppose it would be all right if you know what you want."

Some manage to get some advice from somebody, although the two newsview boys make it sound as if nobody ever gets there. Then, a new lot of difficulties start. Some attempt is made at "talent matching" - a fairly crude attempt at matching abilities with characteristics required in a job e.g. Science + English = Scientific Editor. On occasions, the seeker of advice is subjected to the dictates of fashion - one year it is Industrial Relations the next year Catering, cometimes the Careers Adviser has a personal hang-up, like one I know who thinks that career success tor girls depends on whether they have done Maths.

It can easily be assumed that Maths is the key to becoming say, a bank manager, but is it more important (or even as important) as business acumen, managerial ability and sociability.?

Then there is a terribly middle-class bias to the whole thing. A graduate in History who wants to be a University lecturer is well considered, but a History graduate who is earning money on the wharf for an overseas trip is "wasting the taxpayers money."

Very often, the careers literature available makes a proper choice even more difficult Besides choosing from one of the several hundred courses available at the New Zealand universities and Polytechnics, the school leaver is faced with careers literature which deliberately sets out to blow up the fantasy element in a job. On the one hand they'll have colour photos of Executives looking intelligently at Production lines manned by smiling workers and on the other hand there'll be the hidden reality: eight hours a day with an adding machine - there are people for whom figures are meaningful and alive, but they'll never see the adding machine of their dreams. At least, not in the careers literature.

Basically, careers advice is a patchy business. It suffers from the fact that anybody is willing to do it, and unless you go to some experience professional you will get the "What's good enough for me is good enough for him" sort of advice.

And people taking the advice seem ready enough to accept its validity. There may well be hundreds of students at Victoria who enrolled in a subject only because a flatmate did it lasy year and liked it You'd think that some of the ones who are doing this would at least have read the syllabus first but they didn't even bother to do that

Careers education, course advice and personal counselling are the points at which the force-feeding of facts ends and the development of the whole personality begins. No one has buil-in compartments with University courses in one, careers in another, and personal problems in a third. If you are doingsone university course, and your abilities and interests lie in another direction, you can still pass the course, but by the time you've been working for a year in the job to which your course leads (with greater or lesser relevance) you will have an overflow of personal problems.

Careers choice is a continuing process. No one in his or her right mind would want to make an irrevocable choice at the age of 21. Over a period of time, value judgements become clearer; in some jobs you are successful, in others failure is imminent, and a continuing repraisal is necessary. The system can beat you, if you let it, and the result will be that you'll say to other people, "It doesn't matter what I do, so long as I get paid." (I once had had that said to me by a 50 year old Accounts clerk, and it really shook me. Imagine yourself saying it Think of the state of mind you'd be in.)

But, part of the decision process is not to close doors on possibilities. Too many students make too many narrow choices. If you have a degree in Science, you can be a journalist. Too many students are too rigid. If you have a degree in Psychology and want a job in Social Welfare, and you miss out, don't sit around, get a job in Market Research and keep trying for Social Welfare. As a matter of fact if you're so definite on Social Welfare, you must have put a lot of effort into finding out about it. How many job descriptions of social workers do you have in your collection?

All this exploring and deciding can be postponed you could do an honours course. I wonder how many honours courses are like an overseas trip, just a way to pass time. If postgraduate study is not a means to an end, you're liekly to make things harder for yourself. If you're doing (say) English Hons., you can (as I see it) have only two valid reasons, 1. its the most fantastic course you can think of doing and if you hadn't taken it you'd always regret it, or 2. at the interview they told you that you didn't have a show unless you had English Hons.

There are some tests available in the careers guidance field, tests such as the Phillips (?) I've never managed to get hold of one, to be perfectly honest - and the Kuder Vocational Record which I've used sometimes, is wide open for criticism. In fact no single test, or even combination of tests, can give you perfect reliable, durable answers about what job you should take up. This depends on your personal philosophy, what you have studied, the extent to which you fancy that your degree restricts you, and other similar elements. Whether you get the job depends on whether you leave it until next January or start looking now, how many vacancies there are, how well you look at an interview, and just plain luck.

The most important questions to ask yourself about your career are built into the two tests below. It's impossible to cover every factor involved but the tests may at best make some sort of start in channelling your thinking. You'll need to know 1. what you're looking for in any job, and 2. what type of person you are.

No quiz or test ever covers it all. When in doubt ask. Take it easy.

page 19

What Do You Want in Your Job

  • Here are four sets of questions
  • Look at set 1
  • Decide which of the four statements would be of greatest importance to you.
  • Give it a score of 4
  • Give the next most important item a score of 3, the next a score of 2, and the least important a score of 1
  • Score the other sets in the same way.
AThe salary for the job is very large.
BThe company has a nice welfare scheme
CThe people working there are really friendly.
DThe best thing about the job is the work you do.

Set ii

AThe effort input into the job is recognised.
BThe company gives a bonus and expense account.
CThere is a lot of variety in the job
DSo long as you do what they want you to do, you will never have to worry about looking for another job.

See iii

APromotion means responsibility but you also get more scope for initiative
BYou can't expect to be promoted unless you prove your loyalty to the organisation.

If you work there long enough, you will always be able to count on promotion.

The really important thing about promotion is that your salary goes up.

Set iv

AThey are generous with sick leave on pay, and everybody gets on to the superannuation scheme.
BThe job keeps you busy all the time
CYou can expect regular salary increases so long as your work is satisfactory
DThe organisation is recognised for the social relevance of what it does and everybody respects it.

Now enter your scores in the matrix and add them up:

Set i Set ii Set iii Set iv Total A B D C Money B D C A Security C A B D social D C A B Work Itself.

What Sort of Personality are You?

If you want a job which satisfies you, you must find the sort of work which fits most closely the pattern of your abilities, your interests and your personality. When you started your degree course, you may have decided to do a "useful" subject. The extent of your success in that subject is already a rough guide: if you were particularly successful, and also enjoyed your course of study, it is probable that your course fitted your abilities, interests and personality - that it was "useful" for you. If on the other hand, you found your course boring, dull and only managed to scrape through, the course was probably not "useful" for you. Your reasons for doing it may have been that it was "useful" for someone else; but then, should you be doing a degree just to make other people happy?

Enjoy the tests, and then score yourself below.

You should have marked nine words, three in each group. Enter them in the left hand column in the table below. When you have done that, look at each of the words you have entered in the left hand column, and underline the same word each time it appears in the seven boxes to its right (For example, under Abilities if the first word you have entered is creative, it should be underlined twice in the first horizontal row.)

(*see overleaf)

Then add up the number of underlined words in each of the vertical columns, and enter the totals in the boxes at the bottom. (Score one point for each word.)

This is your range of scores for seven character/job types. The two highest scores indicate the type of career you should consider and look into in greater detail. It could be that these two have no relationship at all to your degree studies, but then they don't have to. One of the classic examples of this is the Masters in Latin who became a Systems Analyist (and in general, classics students' seem to be good in the computer field.)

The next three highest scores indicate areas that suit you, or they might not.

The lowest two scores indicate areas which it might be a good idea to avoid.

A. Abilities

What can you do best?

Think of your activities at the university and before you came here, while studying, and during your spare time.

Mark three of the items which you think fit you most accurately.

Keep it real.

  • Creative - showing originality in developing and designing, or producing unusual ideas and answers to problems.
  • Fluent - being quick, clear and accurate in speaking, debating and discussions in seminars.
  • Influential - taking the lead in groups, and persuading others to follow you ideas and suggestions.
  • Manual - using you hands with skill to make, alter or repair things.
  • Mathematical - clear understanding of mathematical concepts, scientific formulae and applying them to solve scientific and technical problems.
  • Mechanical - understanding how to build, modify, or repair gadgets and machinery.
  • Methodical - being careful and accurate, especially with grammar, spelling, facts and figures.
  • Physical - developing a high standard of performance in sports.
  • Verbal - learning quickly by reading, and expressing ideas and feelings on paper with clarity and precision.

B. Interests

What activities have you enjoyed most, and which would you most like to do in the future?

Mark three items which give your main preferences.

  • Artistic - practising or appreciating literature, music, drama, work with Drama Society, writing poetry for Argot and all that.
  • Helping - giving advice, support of practical help to people with problems, work on Youthline.
  • Indoor - building up your stamp collection, membership of Bridge Club, Chess Club.
  • Investigating - field trips in Geology or Botony, field work on social science projects.
  • Leading - membership of club committees, participation in Students' Association activities, taking initiative in other people to accept your ideas.
  • Organisational - joining clubs and societies just because you like other people and want to make a wider and more varied circle of friends.
  • Outdoor - membership of tramping clubs, mountaineering clubs and similar outdoor activities.
  • Practical - making things, handicrafts, pottery and similar things, tuning up your Yamaha and thins like that.

C. Personality

What kind of personality do you think you have?

How do you think other people see you?

Mark the three items which you think describe you most closely.

  • Calm - patient, even-tempered, rarely getting upset, even about exams.
  • Comforting - fitting in with what others do, one of the group rather than out of step.
  • Independent - making your own decisions and going against general opinion if you know you are right.
  • Realistic - down-to-earth, rarely swayed by emotions.
  • Self-Contained - generally keeping quite in groups, happy with one ot two close friends, not getting too involved in other peoples lives.
  • Outgoing - finding it easy to make new friends, enjoying parties and social activities.
  • Sensitive - aware of people's feelings and quick to notice if other people are worried or hurt.

Your scoring indicates the relative importance which these aspects of work have in your mind.

Take each one in turn:
Money If this was your highest total you must now consider what you want the money for. To some people, money means security, to others a comfortable life. A very small minority find that earning more money is one of the pleasures of his job. Think about it, and decide what it means to you, and remember that your lifestyle at University has got nothing to do with it. Be sure to get rid of misconceptions. The most highly paid job is as a salesman for an Encyclopaedia firm. Insurance selling is not often a way to make money (the best insurance salesman is the sort whom you think you can trust at first sight). Salesmen usually get a salary, a bonus and the use of a company car, all of which adds up to about the same as the straight salary that the Public Service was willing to pay you.
Security A secure job is one in a conservative stable organisation, which has a reputation for never firing people. If you work in an organisation like this, you will have the warm feeling that even if you prove that you're incompetent, all that will happen is that you get moved to one of the branches in a country district. Rather dull but if security is important to you, you wont mind the routine. Again, get rid of the misconceptions. The Public Service is secure, sure enoug, but not nearly as secure as some traditional family based native New Zealand Firm, and certainly not as conservative.
Of course there are other forms of security but these involve subjective evaluations based on the satisfactory combination of personality, job and working conditions.
Social Social satisfaction comes from working with people you like, and feeling that what you do is really worthwhile. Think about your future employer and what line of business he is in, and think carefully. Think about the size of the organisation in general, the bigger it is, the more transient your contacts with people and the leu your chances of getting to know somebody. And, about the organisations objectives: remember there are two ways of defining everything e.g. you can say about an organisation that they're just trying to con people into buying toothpaste or you can say "they're really concerned about tooth decay".
Most important, the people you work with: If you are about to start work with an organisation, you might do worse than first to ask whether you can meet a few people working there. Most employers will be happy you showed interest.
Work Itself We haven't said anything about the kind of job yet. For a very few people it doesn't matter, so long as the're too busy to think. What you actually do in a job will be satisfying if it fits the kind of person you are - the pattern of traits that are part of you. (These are classified further on into main types.) Besides all this, your personal objectives matter. Graduates in their first job who complain about the routine of wrapping parcels are generally those who aren't committed to the job. Those who are committed don't notice routine, they get satisfaction out of achieving the objectives.