Penelope Trunk in a post at her Brazen Careerist (To find your best next job, focus on the company not the job) recommended learning your individual strengths when choosing a job. I certainly agree with her advice but I do not agree with her recommendation for learning your strengths: to take a self-report assessment. I have before explained many reasons I do not trust the results of self-report tests.
Lazar Emanuel (a lawyer of many hats, including being the co-founder of Emanuel Law School Study Aids) and Dr. Thomas N. Tavantzis include, in an article they wrote for T+D magazine, a quote from Peter Drucker: “Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong.”
(Note: Emanuel and Tavantzis are editors of Don't Waste Your Talent: The 8 Critical Steps To Discovering What You Do Best.)
In their article "The Road to Self-Knowledge" (PDF format), the authors agree with my opinion of self-report tools . . .
What passes in many organizations for opportunities to learn our strengths rests more often than not on tools that are based entirely on self‐report or the biased reports of others. These tools assume self-knowledge, are one‐dimensional and easily manipulated, and measure only personality orientation, not how to use our hard‐wired abilities to work easily.
. . .
All of these instruments tap into the same limited area— what we have come to know as personal style.
Whether or not they measure accurately what they purport to measure, we are compelled to recognize that personal style
is a very small part of the total picture of personal effectiveness.
Focusing exclusively on personal style is like asking your physician to do your annual physical with only a blood pressure monitor—a very narrow and limited measure of your physical condition and a very distorted prognosis of your health.
For well over a decade, I sent clients, colleagues, and friends to Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation for objective, non-self-report aptitude testing. When I learned of The Highlands Company (based on Johnson O'Connor), I immediately signed up for the next training program so I could be certified to administer and interpret their assessment. Highlands was founded by Dr. Bob McDonald and Don Hutcheson (now publisher of The Complete Lawyer) and is currently owned by the above-mentioned Emanuel.
Highlands measures essentially the same hard-wired aptitudes as does Johnson O'Connor. Highlands is taken online; Johnson O'Connor is given in one of 11 labs in cities around the US. The processes by which your aptitudes are measured by either Highlands or Johnson O'Connor take several hours and are objective: not self-report and you have no idea for what you are being tested. With either, you learn how you measure up in nearly twenty aptitudes. These include . . .
- Inductive Reasoning (called intuitive problem solving in the article)
- Deductive Reasoning (called logical problem solving in the article)
- Time Frame Orientation (called tactical and strategic planning in the article)
- Idea Productivity (or Ideaphoria)
- Spatial Relations Theory
- Spatial Relations Visualization
- Design Memory
- Verbal Memory
- Tonal Memory
- Rhythm Memory
- Pitch Discrimination
- Number Memory
- Visual Speed
- Visual Accuracy
- Vocabulary (not hard-wired since you can change this score)
In addition, Highlands looks at eight other factors related to career (PDF).
You may locate the nearest Johnson O'Connor lab here. Those certified to use The Highlands Ability Battery are here. Read my article "Lawyers, Celebrate Your Strengths" about lawyers and aptitudes.
I will end this post with the same words used by Tavantzis and Emanuel to close their article . . .
The cornerstone of self‐awareness is self‐knowledge or “know thyself.” Self‐ knowledge requires self‐study. Self‐study cannot depend only on describing yourself to yourself or answering self‐serving questions about yourself. It requires a valid test of your natural abilities in the context of other key factors.