Crunch Time!

It’s that time of year when 16- and 17-year-olds are assessing their university choices. What’s your role in ensuring your child is making informed choices to enable long-term career?

It is a fact that each year thousands of students drop out of Sixth Form and university or change course due to the lack of objective or clarity around their decisions. Sadly, there are millions of adults who are
in careers that they ‘ended up in’ or are unhappy with.

In many cases, their potential is not fully utilised in terms of skills, knowledge and attitude. This means they have not necessarily made the best choices for their career because they do not know their strengths and development areas. They don’t explore what makes them ‘tick’. They are often unclear about themselves in terms of who they really are, what they really want and how they wish to live their lives.

Research shows that focus in early decision-making ensures the best fit and happiness in careers, leading to employee engagement and more effective organisations. What can you do to guarantee your child begins on the road to a fulfilling career that matches their strengths and interests? How can you help your child choose the life they want?

Career coaching
August-2014_Wellbeing2_01Think of an iceberg. At the tip are you and your child’s awareness of grades from school reports and their hobbies and interests. Under the iceberg are belief systems, possible saboteurs around potential, values, family habits, geographical influences and past experiences. The stuff ‘above the water’ is useful and the stuff ‘below the water’ is essential, but often ignored.

Professional assistance avoids the trait and factor theory of career decision making, which merely puts pegs into holes to see what fits best. Career coaching delves further and often opens a can of worms, possibly causing initial confusion as things surface.

Knowledge of strengths, personality traits, abilities and learning styles means educated decisions around career and course selection. Sound advice and accurate evidence goes further by ensuring the best culture-environment fit, taking into consideration family, financial, strategic and other important factors.

Students’ career choices are sometimes inadvertently restricted by parents due to lack of motivation and talent alignment. What this means is that even if your child is able to become a doctor, banker or lawyer, if this is not the field that they really want to study, they may still be good at it. However will they really be happy achieving their potential? Not necessarily. This demonstrates the importance of looking at all the variables in course and career choice.

The great benefits of coaching and psychometric instruments combined are not fully appreciated. Few people really understand what a coach can help them achieve and how valuable the experience
will be. Coaching is not about telling. It enables clients to understand their bigger issues and sessions are loosely structured ending with actionable tasks, which are time
specific. Coaches are non-judgmental and enable or facilitate action through accountability measures.

What is psychometrics?
Psychometrics is concerned with the measurement of various human abilities and attributes through questionnaires and tests. Many students could avoid dropping out of their undergraduate courses or changing their A level and IB options if they took a psychometric test. Tests can highlight careers that have not been considered, therefore, opening possibilities.

Psychometric tests are designed to be fair and objective and are free from personal bias and prejudice. They allow different people to be assessed under the same conditions. Some students choose courses because of the weather in that location or university prestige, making decisions subjective. Tutorial size and research records should also be considered.

Psychometrics is powerful, but it should not be used in isolation as it is just one measure. The views of parents, teachers, colleagues, friends and professionals in the field should also be considered. Psychometrics is used heavily in graduate selection, especially in relation to how questions are asked both on and off line.

Career choice and development can only happen effectively from within. You and your child should be clear about what you both want. Follow the steps and meet the deadlines to ensure you get it.

August-2014_Wellbeing2_02The Morrisby Profile
One of the two best test battery on the market for course and career selection, this is very hard to fake due to the nature of the items contained within the test. The personality aspects of the test have little face validity. Therefore, it is very difficult to guess what the question might be measuring and to consequently give the answer you think the test giver wants to hear.

This test, which takes around three hours face-to-face, produces a profile of abilities, personality types, interests, preferred work and learning styles. Discussions of the results help students and adults make informed choices, realise aspirations, achieve career success/satisfaction, and increases motivation. The Morrisby Profile has been used by Xerox, Bank of Ireland, University of Bath and other prestigious universities as well as many international schools. In Bahrain, the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Programme uses this test format as well.

Saville Consulting’s MY Self
Another leader in the field, this report provides insight into behavioural effectiveness at work and the career areas that your particular strengths are likely to fit. It identifies strengths and challenge areas whilst using both normative and ipsative rating and ranking approaches which increases reliability and validity. This tool is completed in 30 minutes online and usually has a two- to six-day turn around, followed by feedback by a Level A and Level B (ability and personality) psychometrist registered with the British Psychological Society.

In recruitment, it may be particularly important to get as high a score as possible in certain areas to distinguish yourself from other candidates. In career guidance, the more honest you are the more accurate and valid the results will be. Of course these tests can pick up when candidates are being overly confident.

Tests provide awareness and using the data through discussions is even more important. This part seems to be the missing link on many occasions, especially in this region. People use superficial online tools, which may raise awareness, but cannot be relied upon. By combining coaching with psychometric profiling, the results are a great starting point for coaching discussions whilst both you and the coach discover an accurate picture of what you really want. Just like having a coach in the gym, you work harder, achieve results quicker, are more committed to action and are accountable.

Career Coach
Dr Clare Beckett-McInroy EdD MAEd CPCC PCC MAC

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