Self-assessment and career matching tools

What does self-assessment involve?

The first step to career planning is self-assessment, because the better you know yourself, the easier it will be to find a fulfilling career. Reflecting on your skills and strengths, values and personality type, asking people you know well for feedback and making ‘lists’  can all give you useful clues that will help you to make more informed choices as you explore the career opportunities that arise. As well as understanding your skills and values, it’s important to be aware of other internal and external factors that can influence your career decisions too.  

Some people find self-reflection easy whereas others find it more difficult. The activities below should help you get started. 

There are a number of online tools available to help you with this process, or you could make an appointment to discuss self-assessment further with a careers consultant.

Once you are more aware of what is important to you and what you have to offer, you can use a career matching tool to give you some ideas of the jobs that might suit you.

Skills and strengths

How do I conduct a skills and strengths audit myself?

You can start this by listing the skills you have used and developed during your studies, employment, hobbies, life experience etc. and then assessing whether you think you are proficient in using that skill or need further development.

A typical skills audit looks like this:

Score your level of expertise against each skill/ability as follows: 

1 = basic               2 = competent                3 = proficient

Add at least one example of when you’ve demonstrated that skill.




Team work



Written communication



Verbal communication



Attention to detail






When you’ve done that, spend some time identifying the skills that you have most enjoyed using in those contexts. These skills are your strengths, and if you can find a career that will allow you to regularly use your strengths, you will have a greater chance of job satisfaction.

Note: It is possible be highly proficient at something, but for it to not be a strength. The difference between skills and strengths is that we usually feel energised when we use our strengths. Think about occasions when the time has flown by without you looking at the clock because you were so absorbed in your task – that’s probably because you were using one or more of your strengths.

Equally, you might have a strength that you aren’t yet competent in, but that you feel enthusiastic about developing further.

Skills and strengths tools

  • If you’d prefer to work with a pre-defined list of skills, download our version here.

  • LSE Life has developed a tool on Moodle to think about your skills: Me + LSE  

  • Prospects and Targetjobs both have a section on skills and competencies which you could use to develop your own list. 

  • CliftonStrengths is widely used tool to help people think about strengths. You have to pay for the test.

  • High Five Test is a free alternative to CliftonStrengths.

When you have completed your audit or strengths tool, show it to a trusted friend, colleague or mentor, etc. You might be surprised by the ideas and insight they can bring.

Values and personality

How do I assess my values?

Put simply, your values are things that are important to you in life and at work. They can also be referred to as guiding principles. Being clear about your values can guide your actions, help you to make decisions and allow you to interact with people in a way that feels genuine and honest. Examples of values include community, optimism, directness, ambition, happiness or status.

Everyone is different and there are no positive or negative values. It is important to be honest with yourself about what is important to you.

There are many lists of values available online, but the process of identifying your own can be more effective if you think about your values in the context of experiences you have had, rather than simply reviewing a page of words.

Have a look through the following links to identify an approach that works for you:

  • Your Ideal Business Partner Values Generator – this method encourages you to identify times in your life when you felt happy, proud and fulfilled and to use those to help you recognise your values.

  • Leadership coach Scott Jeffrey takes a similar approach, but also recommends considering a negative experience, where you were angry or frustrated, to help you identify the values that were being suppressed on that occasion.

  • If you prefer a more structured approach, The Life Values Inventory is a free online programme that asks you a series of questions about your values and actions and then presents you with your results.

  • If you’d rather look through a list of values and make your own judgements, here’s a list of 400 from Live Bold & Bloom.

The key is to narrow them down until you have around 5 core values that you can easily keep in mind. TapRooT recommends adding a verb to each value to bring them to life. For example, if your values are ‘well-being’ and ‘making a difference’ – they suggest changing those into actions by adding ‘Promote well-being’ and ‘Seek opportunities for making a difference’.

Using personality type indicators

Understanding your key personality traits also plays a role in self-assessment. For example, if you are someone who enjoys being surrounded by people and activity, it is likely that a very solitary job won’t suit you very well.

There are a number of online tools that can help you to learn more about your personality. Commonly, these free online services give you an initial description of your results free of charge, but charge a fee to access a more detailed report. They usually require you to register in order to take the test.

  • The VIA Institute on Character, an organisation dedicated to promoting the ‘character strengths’ that ‘make up our personality’, offers a free online survey that assesses you against their 24 defined character strengths. Click on ‘Take the free survey’ to start and you’ll get access to your results, with your greatest character strength highlighted.

  • Keirsey Temperament Sorter – a widely used personality instrument with 70 self-directed questions designed to help you uncover your personality type, which will fit into one of four temperaments. Click on ‘Start’ and when you’ve finished the survey, you’ll receive your result and an overview of the key characteristics of that temperament.

  • 16 personalities presents 16 personality types based around what’s known as the ‘big five personality traits’ model. After answering the questions, you are presented with your results and a detailed overview of the personality type you fit most closely with. 

Career planning and matching tools

Once you have been through a process of self-assessment, you should feel more self-aware and better prepared to review the career options open to you when you start to research different sectors and job roles. Windmills is a career planning tool with useful exercises to help you define your goals, and manage the process 

There are a number of career matching tools that take a step further by analysing your skills and preferences, and suggesting suitable job matches for your personal profile.

Prospects Planner is an online programme that asks you to rate various skills and motivating factors based on how important they are to you. The ‘scores’ you receive are then compared with a database of occupation profiles and possible career matches are suggested.

Or you could try the new Prospects Job Match tool which askes you whether you agree or disagree with a series of statements and then matches you to one of 15 job groups, ranging from ‘creator’ to ‘guide’, and suggests a range of related occupation profiles.

Most of the following are US based tools. While they each provide you with a useful taster that should help you to build a picture of your career options, their full reports are only available for a fee.

You might find it useful to undertake more than one of the free tests and then cross reference your taster results to look for common themes or career types. 

  • What Career is right for me? – offers a career aptitude test that analyses your skills, interests, work style and values. Each category is represented by a list of examples that you rank from low to high importance/competence etc.  

  • The MAPP (Motivational Appraisal Personal Potential) career assessment is based on your skills and personality. For free, you receive a sample document based on your results and an opportunity to compare those results with 5 careers from a library of over 1000 options. You search the database, choosing either a category or keyword, and the system shows you how well you match the careers you choose.

  • Holland Code Career Test measures your level of interest in a wide range of activities and uses your responses to prioritise your top career interest areas across 6 categories, i.e. building, thinking, creating, helping, persuading and organizing. It then suggests careers that match your interest profile.

  • Career Explorer by Sokanu, requires your response to over 300 questions, exploring your personality, skills and preferences for your working style and environment. It then suggests a range of career matches and lists some of your key characteristics. You can access a useful sample of your personalised report.

None of these tools will tell you definitively what career would suit you best, but they can all provide ideas to inspire you and stimulate further research. Don’t be disheartened if you aren’t interested in any of the options that come up – try instead to identify any common themes and start from there. For example, all the careers suggested might involve people, or data, or analysis or community, etc.

If you need help to explore your findings, you could make an appointment with a careers consultant.