Reveal your hidden skills and talents with psychometrics
Too many of us end up as square pegs in round holes. A test of our aptitudes can point us in the right direction
Lorna Fitzsimons is an engineering lecturer in DCU, but was an air hostess for 13 years before she did a psychometric test which revealed she had a great aptitude for working with numbers. Photograph: Alan Betson
Air hostess takes a battery of psychometric tests, discovers a serious talent for maths, leaves her job of 13 years and becomes a lecturer in mechanical engineering.
This is Lorna Fitzsimons’s career trajectory, if a little reductive. At first glance, her job history charts the tough slog of an academic career – an undergraduate course, a PhD scholarship won on the back of a first-class honours degree and post-doctoral work – all of which led to her current role as a lecturer in DCU.
Just one line tucked at the end of this list, “senior cabin crew with Aer Lingus”, hints at a radical career change in her past.
She got a job with Aer Lingus in 1990 and enjoyed the travel in her early 20s. By 2003, she was considering moving on.
“I was senior crew at that stage but there wasn’t much opportunity for promotion. I thought ‘Am I going to do this for the rest of my life, or shall I just bite the bullet and try something different?’”
She approached a career consultant with a hunch that she might like to work in maths or engineering. It turned out she had a lot of untapped talent.
After she took psychometric tests that measured her personality, interests and aptitudes, the psychologist told her that her maths ability registered in the 99th percentile. Amazingly, her potential had not been picked up in school where she took pass maths at Leaving Cert.
“I had always liked maths in school but it wasn’t taught well so I dropped to pass. I suppose that knocked my confidence.”
After the tests, she went back to study honours Leaving Cert maths, applied to study engineering and spent the next few years working her way up to a job she clearly enjoys that plays to her strengths.
“It gave me a boost. The whole testing process was very interesting and I would definitely say to anyone thinking of changing careers to go and see where their strengths lie.”
Even in an economy where people are grateful for any work at all, finding a satisfying job is still something of a life calling. Steve Jobs’s famous 2005 Stanford graduation speech – in which he said, “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle,” – hit home with millions of people precisely because there is so often a gulf between the potential we feel we have, and the lives we get to live in reality.
Thousands of people have latent talent that is not being used in their career.
So should more of us be taking psychometric tests to find out what we are good at?