In a tough economy, finding a job straight out of college isn’t easy. It’s even more difficult for graduates who don’t have a clear idea of what they want to do with their education.

For years, Crown Financial Ministries has helped older teens and young adults discover how their unique God-given mix of personality, skills, values, and interests suggests certain career options. That understanding is invaluable when it comes to choosing the kind of education to pursue. Having a strong sense of career direction can help students avoid costly trial and error. Consider:

  • The average annual cost for tuition, fees, room, and board at a four-year public college/university is $19,548 (in-state residents) and $43,921 at a private institution, according to the College Board (these are “sticker” prices, i.e. before subtracting scholarships and grants).
  • Many students change majors at least once, extending the time needed to graduate and adding to the overall cost of college.
  • Fewer than 40% of college students complete a bachelor’s degree within four years — many take up to six years.
  • Each extra year in college for a non-working student has an effective cost that combines both college expenses and lost income. This cost can easily be $40,000 a year or more.

With these facts in mind, consider the following questions:

  1. Do you know your children’s strengths and weaknesses? Their skills and abilities? Their interests and values? Their career aspirations? Is this information being used as a basis for choosing what to study and where?
  2. Are you sure college is the best option for your children? Might they be better served by a vocational school or a different path?

Uncovering answers to these questions will help you be a better steward, not only of the money God has entrusted to you but your children’s special gifts as well.

Regrettably, ill-considered education and career choices can have a lifelong impact. Many people end up working for years — sometimes their entire careers — in jobs that don’t “match” who they are.

Crown’s Career Direct assessment was created 25 years ago because ministry co-founder Larry Burkett had encountered so many people who were unhappy in their jobs. Since then, more than 200,000 students and adults have completed the process.

The online assessment contains 550 questions, covering four dimensions of a person’s design: their interests, personality, values, and skills. The section on interests is the largest, with 200 questions helping users gauge their interest in a wide variety of subjects, activities, and occupations. The personality section examines 16 aspects of personality, helping people thoroughly understand how they think, interact, and react to people and situations.

People as young as 16 may take the assessment. Because it yields key information about how a particular individual is “wired,” the results can be a strong motivational tool. After all:

  1. Students with clear and realistic career goals are more likely to be motivated in their education. In his book, Parents’ Most-Asked Questions About Kids and Schools, the late educator Cliff Schimmels pointed out that “motivation is the ability of the learner to see the applied value of the lesson.” Involving young people in planning their vocational future helps them see a close connection between education choices and career success and satisfaction.
  2. Young people are more likely to be motivated if they catch a vision of their potential. Jesus was a master at calling people to their potential (“You are the salt of the earth.…You are the light of the world”). Helping your children see their potential is a powerful incentive for them to succeed — especially if that vision is rooted in an objective assessment of their talents, interests, and other factors related to job satisfaction. An assessment can help your children learn how to go with the grain of their God-given design rather than against it. That knowledge can suggest an education and career path that leads to lasting fulfillment.

For adults, too

In today’s economy, it’s not just teenagers and young adults who need career direction! If you’ve lost a job recently, or if you seem stuck in a job that’s going nowhere, the kind of assessment mentioned above may help you as well.

Losing a job — or being underemployed — can lead to a loss of confidence in one’s own abilities and potential. Crown’s Career Direct Global Edition provides fresh insight into how God has designed you for the workplace. The report generated after completing the assessment, especially when reviewed with the help of a Career Direct Consultant, likely will result in a more focused job search or ideas about how to use your skills more effectively in your current job.

Jon Sommer, who leads Crown’s Career Direct area, believes there’s an important spiritual dimension to finding the work God designed us to do. “Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ When we understand how God has wired us, and when we do what we’re interested in and what we’re good at, that enables us to receive all that God has for us and to share God with others.”