Assess Yourself, Then Express Yourself

What makes a personal brand ring true and not just sound like a string of buzz words?  Authenticity.

And how does one arrive at one’s authentic self?  Assessment.

Some assessment is just good common sense.  You probably already have at least a bit of a pulse on your strengths and the things you enjoy.  But, today I’d like to encourage you to go deeper by doing more formal assessments.

There are three specific assessments I’d like you to pursue, and below I’ll tell you a bit about each of them and why you’ll benefit from taking time to do the assessment.   It’s a myth that such assessments tell you what career you should pursue or in what industry you should work.    But, it’s a reality that if you critically analyze the results, you can use them to help inform your personal brand and what career decisions you make.

1.   Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, aka MBTI -

The MBTI is often thought of as a “personality test.”   What it really does is help you understand how you perceive the world and prefer to operate within it.   There are four pairs of preferences: Introvert/Extrovert, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judgment/Perception.  When you take the MBTI, your responses guide you to a result that falls along these four preferences.  For example, I am an INTJ – introvert, intuition, thinking, judgment type.

2.  Strong Interest Inventory, aka SII or The Strong -

The SII is more closely associated with career decision making.  The Strong helps you connect your “type” to potential careers, and it does this via Holland Codes, of which there are six:  Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.   After taking the Strong, you’ll be presented with a three letter type, which is made up of your three main Holland Codes.  For example, I am a SAE – Social, Artistic, Entrepreneurial type.

3. Strengthsfinder 2.0

Unlike the first two assessments, Strengthsfinder is less focused on personalities and characteristic preferences.  Rather, it’s focused on — not surprisingly, given the title — strengths (see Karen Obringer’s post from few weeks back).  This assessment helps you discover/confirm and apply your strengths by helping you understand and articulate those strengths and how they inform your work style.  There are 34 possible strengths in this assessment.  So, I won’t list them all here.  But, they vary wildly.  For example, my strengths are Individualization, Ideation, Responsibility, Strategic and Intellection.

The key to getting value out of them is to understand what they will do for you. They won’t answer your big questions, and they won’t give you your “one true path.”  But, each will give you pieces of information about yourself — the things you enjoy, the types of interactions you prefer, the way you like to make decisions, the things you are good at, and so forth.

The more of this information you have about yourself, the better you can make decisions about your personal brand.  It’s amazing how much these three assessments have informed my professional life.  My bio on Twitter and Linkedin is “Supporter, Thinking, Idea Generator, Project Manager,” and this is directly correlated to information gleaned from having taken these a few times over the years.

I encourage you to look on your own campus for these, as many of these are available at no charge to you — check your career center, your counseling center, you leadership center and wherever else you may be guided.


Gary is a 15-year veteran of higher education in variety of student services and managerial roles at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgia State University and the University of Washington.  His areas of expertise as a student services professional include dynamic group presentations, internships, and department marketing, strategy and technology utilization.  He is currently assistant director for business-related internships at University Career Services at UNC-Chapel Hill.  In addition to blogging, Gary is professionally active on (@garyalanmiller),, and, and is among the first higher education professionals to launch a social media resume.  He is also a musician, hobbyist entrepreneur and father of a beautiful baby boy named Kirby.

Related posts:

  1. Strengths v. Skills
  2. Strategic Planning for Career Success: Assessment
  3. Strategic Planning for Career Success: The Personal SWOT Analysis

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