Never too early to start…

29 09 2010

Having spent large amounts of time with professionals in their 30s, 40s and even 50s who feel they have somehow “missed their path in life” or ended up in the wrong job, the question arises, “how can a person know what the right path would look like – and how early could they know that?”

Working with personality, there are some things we know aren’t really settled (or set in stone) until a person reaches “full socialisation”, typically in their early to mid 20s or at the point when they leave home. (Don’t laugh; psychometricians are revising upwards the age of full socialisation as the age of leaving home rises, in the West at least.)

However, there are other factors which do seem to be pretty stable even from early teenage years and which, very helpfully, do have a huge bearing on future job fit and satisfaction. Two areas in particular are significant here: 1) what activities will motivate and engage the person; and 2) what support from or interaction with other people they are most in need of.

The problem, as ever with personality, is getting at these factors. Most career tools deployed in the (many – we have moved a lot) schools my own children have attended are at best lamentable. By that I mean they simply ask the respondent what they think they would like to do – and then repeat back to them what they said. The problem with this approach is that it is primarily measuring their well-socialised response to things (i.e. what do you think you should say in this situation), and the problem with that is a) we just said that socialisation doesn’t normal settle down until about a decade after these tools are typically deployed and b) even for adults, socialised responses are a very poor guide to actual motivations and needs – which are the key elements in job fit.

Which is why we developed hoozyu™  ( The toolset we use with corporate and professional clients has a unique way of accessing and measuring motivation and needs in even the very young (we restrict this to 14 and above); hoozyu™ is just a wrapper around a subset of those tools, appropriate to that age group. It doesn’t set out to tell anyone what they should be doing, but it does allow someone to recognise early that they are more motivated by working with systems and order than with how things look or why things work a certain way (or vice versa); and it helps them to understand whether up front people management and interaction is more their thing than scribbling creative ideas on a a napkin.

When you are trying to work out what path in life to take, and whether to be an accountant or a designer or a doctor or a retail manager or a consultant, that information is solid gold.