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Test can help people find the right career

Jordan Curet/The Aspen TimesSnowmass resident Marilyn Seltzer utilizes the Kolbe A Index assessment to help her clients find the best job.
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ASPEN, Colorado ” I don’t recall exactly when I knew I wanted to be a journalist, because it’s really the only thing I remember ever wanting to be. And after more than two decades in the news business, it’s still the only thing I really want to do for work ” reporting, writing, editing, just being in a newspaper office feels right.

So it didn’t really surprise me to learn that journalism is a very good career for me. What was surprising, however, was to learn all the ways that my internal journalist can help me in other areas of my life: as a mother, wife, friend and more.

In this sense, the Kolbe A Index assessment I recently took is much more than your basic career test. In fact, the 36-question test is in many ways the opposite of your standard career quiz.



“Kolbe is not like any other career test; and it is not a personality test or an IQ test,” said Marilyn Seltzer, a Snowmass Village resident and former advertising executive who recently jumped back into the work force by starting her own consulting business ” Seltzer Consulting Group ” that specializes in career coaching using the Kolbe concept. “This test has no bias; it does not reflect age, religion, gender, etc. It assumes we are all equal by assessing the qualities we are born with, the things that never change.”

In brief, Kolbe assesses a person’s “conative” side. Conative, explained Seltzer, is your drive, instinct and talents. Often, career tests assess a person’s cognitive, or thinking side (IQ, education, experience, etc.), or a person’s affective, or feeling, side (attitudes, values, emotions, etc). In Kolbe testing, the questions are multiple choice, asking you to choose the most likely and least likely way you would act in a specific situation.



“Kolbe looks at how you do things naturally, what you do when you’re in your groove,” Seltzer said. “And then I interpret those results to help you figure out what are the best career choices, where you will be most successful and the most satisfied.”

Test results are broken down into four categories, defining four different “action modes,” or ways of doing things:

– Fact Finder: The instinctive way we gather and share information.

– Follow Thru: The instinctive way we arrange and design.

– Quick Start: The instinctive way we deal with risk and uncertainty.

– Implementor: The instinctive way we handle space and tangibles.

A score from 0-10 is assigned to each action mode, which falls along a continuum that shows just how you naturally solve problems in that area.

I am a 6-2-8-3, in the aforementioned categories. According to Kolbe logic, “your ideal job will allow you to approach problems using innovative strategies. Look for opportunities to juggle changing priorities and promote complex alternatives.” In other words, according to Seltzer, I am good at improvising and brainstorming, but also like a fair amount of knowledge to back up my tendency to wing it (the eight and six scores). I am not naturally inclined to follow a rigid schedule, nor am I particularly adept at building things (those two and three scores).

So, theoretically, that information should direct me to a job that allows me to, well, be the best that I can be ” my Kolbe analysis said I would be an excellent newspaper copy editor (good thing, because that’s my main job at the Times), and that data entry would be a rather “painful” job (and I couldn’t agree more).

Everything about the Kolbe results are spun in a positive manner, with suggestions on how to take something you’re not naturally inclined to do and succeed. So, if I was forced to take up data entry to put food on the table, it’d be OK. I’d just have find things outside the workplace to keep me satisfied, according to the test results.

The test, developed by Kathy Kolbe more than a decade ago and now an integral part of her Kolbe Corp. ” a multi-faceted company that offers “assessment tools, organizational development software and certification program to help organizations hire, manage and motivate people to achieve higher performance” ” has been used by dozens of major corporations to improve performance, enhance efficiency and, generally, ensure that employees are reaching their maximum potential, which affects the bottom line.

For individuals, a Kolbe assessment can help a person start a career, change careers or ” and perhaps most important in this uncertain economic climate ” keep a job. The information also can help a person strike a greater balance in their personal and professional lives.

“It is so validating, empowering and motivating to understand how you do things best; the confidence it gives people is amazing,” said Seltzer, whose business thus far has been word of mouth. “I feel like I am giving people a gift when I offer this assessment and interpret the results.”

It is in this sense that I see where the information I gleaned from Seltzer can benefit me most, and I see this in several ways.

First, I want to keep my job; playing into my natural strengths ” and making sure my boss sees why this will positively impact the company as a whole ” will add to my job security.

And second, life is complicated; if I can do the things that come to me naturally, while either eliminating or at least understanding the things that do not come so easily, I’ll likely be more efficient and, as a result, calmer.

For example, I have a No. 2 follow through score, which means I’m not a great task-master. Getting my family’s stuff organized ” lunches, hockey gear, ballet bags, homework, library books ” drives me insane. My 9-year-old daughter, on the other hand, seems to thrive on organizing these types of things; she’s best when she has set a task and knows what’s next on her to-do list (she hasn’t taken the Kolbe assessment, although children with a fourth-grade reading level can be tested). Seltzer’s suggestion: “Have her organize the bags.” Brilliant.

Further, by understanding the way I operate, it can help me understand why I might clash with a co-worker, friend, child or my husband. And then I can use this information to try and diffuse the situation for everyone’s benefit.

“There are so many reasons to learn about your conative side,” Seltzer said. “And while what I am focusing on is career coaching, because Kolbe is that and so many people are currently seeking that information, I hope to use it ” and that my clients can use it ” for so much more.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com


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