Professional retraining: the skills assessment is useless (my testimony)

Jan 15, 2022

Because the Covid-19 crisis and the aspirations of Millennials have put the need for meaning back at the centre of their concerns, many of them are questioning the direction their careers are taking. And many are now considering a drastic change of direction. In short, the question of professional reconversion has never been so much in the spotlight. And professional retraining almost certainly means a skills assessment .

Almost everywhere, the skills assessment is presented as the essential prerequisite for opening up new perspectives and changing jobs. Is this true? Not true? Because when it comes to testimonials, you can always find everything and its opposite, often without fully understanding the context and the motivations of each person, I decided, for once, to go full gonzo (and therefore to write in the first person). Rather than counting the points delivered by the "pros" and the "cons", and to come to a conclusion that is inevitably half and half, I'm going to give you my personal experience, because, yes, I tested the skills assessment.

A SKILLS ASSESSMENT TO TEST YOURSELF?

My name is Laurent and I have been making a living as an editor for more than 20 years (but do we have to write it down). To tell the truth, writing is the only job I've ever done. With pleasure, I might add. A few years ago, I asked myself if I was capable of doing something else and what. And it didn't fail. The advice came faster than the news of Alec Baldwin's troubles on a Reuters wire. "Why don't you go and get a skills assessment? It's the essential step, blah blah blah." Well, it must be true since everyone says so.

So, armed with my good will, I make an appointment and meet a counselor who congratulates me on my enlightened choice. "The skills assessment will open up your chakras," she said. Well, no. She must not have said those exact words, but that's what I understood at the time.

Super convinced by this super optimistic introduction, I confirm my interest. I'm going to take this skills assessment. It took me a month and a half to complete it, in several sessions. I'll spare you the details of the tests (there can be several kinds of tests focused on: professional interest, values, motivation, personality...) to get straight to the conclusion, i.e. the results.

Drum roll, and the winner is: communication jobs. And yes. In the end, the skills assessment only confirmed (roughly speaking) the job I've always done. Did I really need to go through all that to find out?

A SIMPLE SNAPSHOT OF SKILLS AT A GIVEN MOMENT

With hindsight, I should have known better. After all, the skills assessment is extremely well named. It is nothing more and nothing less than a snapshot of... skills at a given moment. In essence, therefore, it remains stuck on the past and says nothing about future possibilities, especially if you are looking for a radical change of profession.

So, if you are a marketing director of a large international company and your desire is to become a pastry chef, don't expect any encouragement (or confirmation) from the exercise. It simply cannot do it. If, on the other hand, you are an accountant and your secret dream is to become a chartered accountant, the skills assessment could be useful. To put it plainly, it makes sense if you are planning a professional development based on skills that have already been proven. Otherwise... My assessment of the (skills) assessment is therefore as follows: go your way if you are looking for a complete professional reconversion.

Am I being too radical? After all, this is just my testimony (with all the biases that implies). If you've had a completely different experience, feel free to respond. In the meantime, as my skills assessment told me, I'm going back to my articles.

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