Module 1, Unit 3: Aptitude and Abilities

by Unre Visagie


As you read this unit, you should bear in mind that aptitude is only one of many concepts that you will encounter during the exploration and discovery of personal work preferences.   However, it will add to the information about work choices. It will be useful when choosing an occupation within broad based career directions. People’s personality traits and preferences (Unit 2), their current interests (Unit 4), their current values (Unit 5), their current aspirations and exposure to various careers (Unit 6) stimulate their growth in mental capacity and awareness. Increase your own as well as your future client’s awareness of each personal exploration category that is discussed in each unit. This will facilitate their journey of exploration and discovery with regard to a career choice. One’s sharpened awareness will increase one’s capacity to choose the right work, contribute to the workplace and be productive.

You can link to the two distinct useful applications and meanings of aptitude:

  1. Natural aptitude to learn new abilities. We can talk about tests, exploration and discoveries and a currently revealed abilities inventory.


  1. Workplace aptitude, which is a norm to a specific industry and level of entry. This means that each industry creates its own benchmark for successful workers.

From Wikidictionary :

Definition of aptitude

1. natural ability to acquire knowledge or skills

2. the condition of being suitable

Synonyms for aptitude

1.  talent

2.  appropriateness, suitability

From :

Definition of aptitude

1.  Capability; ability; innate or acquired capacity for something; talent: She has a special aptitude for          mathematics.

2.  Readiness or quickness in learning; intelligence: He was placed in honors classes because of their         general aptitude.

3.  The state or quality of being apt; special fitness.

From :

Definitions of aptitude: (Click on the blue highlighted words or look it up in a dictionary.)

INCLINATION, TENDENCY <an aptitude for hard work>

1: a natural ability: TALENT
2: capacity for learning <an aptitude for languages>
3: general suitability: APTNESS
Synonym see GIFT a natural or acquired capacity or ability; especially: a tendency, capacity, or inclination to learn or understand

In this unit, we focus on your guidance of the processes only for natural aptitude in self-exploration and discoveries.  Professionals can give advice and determine workplace aptitude – you cannot do tests and give advice if you are not qualified and registered. Refer your clients to registered work readiness testing professionals such as SPEEX. Workplace aptitude is often localised, so you must speak to your local professionals.

You will notice that, as we are exploring the concept of natural aptitude, related concepts automatically spring to mind such as current abilities to do work, potential to grow, skills acquired and explored talent.  In this study unit, you will explore and discover the valuable concept of aptitude. You will discover its relationship to other concepts in the other units that help you explore and discover your choices of work.

People explore and discover the complexity of humankind by studying different theories. The various theories are an indication of how people have struggled to describe the human and his inner workings. We learn from all these efforts. Each theory pushes the boundaries of understanding of our individual traits and preferences. You learn to understand, appreciate and apply your natural strengths.  It is important that you learn where you must delegate or collaborate with others to compensate for your current knowledge gaps or natural weaknesses.  Projects or tasks normally require a much wider range of traits and aptitudes than any one individual possess.

As you are exposed to wider choices, you get to know your preferences, traits and aptitudes better.  This is true for every person who wishes to experience a wider range of choices.

All that is required is facilitated exploration and discovery of each one’s unique combination of traits, preferences, aptitudes, talents and growing competencies. This process of exploration, discovery, choice of competencies and choice of work repeats itself throughout our lives. We need to be able to repeat the processes easily with no (or little) financial cost. By using the Internet, you can stay up to date and share these processes with your clients throughout their career development.   Exploration and discovery brings understanding, insight and clarity of expression. The insights, awareness and clarity help each individual to increase communication with more people. People expand their chances of connecting with the world of work; thus increasing their own unique contributions.

Let us use the concept of sport to describe aptitude and ability. You may decide on any sport of your choice to explain to your clients the difference between ability and aptitude. Adapt the stories to your client’s culture and known references. Known references make the learning safer and the lesson clearer.  With the 2010 Soccer World Cup around the corner, I would like to take aptitude for soccer as an example.  Say someone has a natural aptitude for soccer.  He has a natural awareness and talent for running, sidestepping along with quick reflexes. However, if he has never actually seen or played a game of soccer, he will not realise his natural aptitude for it.  Creating this awareness and providing exposure to different choices are what you are aiming for as a Career Guidance Practitioner (CGP).

People cannot answer questions that are based on soccer until they have seen and experienced a game. Not until they have practiced and understood the moves can they play for a team. Practice allows people to grow their ability which they apply their natural aptitude.  Practice takes time and hard work. They must find people with whom they can play, as they cannot practice soccer alone. Natural aptitude is a talent; practising and exercising this talent creates skill and ability.  Aptitude only reflects potential talent until you develop it by using tasks and exercises that grow your aptitudes and competencies.

Everyone can be involved in the soccer industry.  You can be an organiser, mobiliser, spectator or part of a fan club. You can sell the products that advertise the teams’ brand names.

Keeping and maintaining the soccer grounds is important. The team requires transport. You can venture into the career path of a player, janitor, salesperson or even a secretary.  In the same manner, every industry offers many different career paths. A wide variety of work choices are offered in any industry. Anyone can find work in the industry best suited to his or her natural aptitudes.

Now let us show people how to identify their game of work!

People might know their natural aptitude. If not, it can come to the forefront with exposure. You can introduce them to tasks and exercises to get ready for the game of work. Once they have seen the game they like, they need to exercise and practise some work moves. In this manner, they keep moving towards a goal by learning and growing competencies.

Now it is time for you to find and work with at least two more people. This ensures that you (as a future Career Guidance Practitioner) understand that your future clients must also work with at least two people in order to be facilitated, observed and guided towards a suitable career.

People practise for the great game of work together with other players! It is difficult to practise in isolation. Grow yourself and others within a group for maximum growth and benefit.

Read about muscle memory in Wikipedia.  You acquire competencies of the mind in a similar way by exercising processes repeatedly. Look at the way you learned to use a cell phone: you learned by engaging, observing and mimicking others!  Then you started using the phone yourself and as your confidence grew, others started engaging, observing and mimicking you. Now you are learning and teaching the natural way – the same as you learned to walk and talk. You simply need to keep on repeating the same learning processes.

Skills, abilities, and aptitudes are related, yet different.  Skills describe what a person has learned to do in the past.  Abilities describe what a person can do now at the present time.  Aptitudes look forward.  The description of a person’s aptitude describes his or her potential.  Aptitudes describe what ability a person has to do something in the future.  In other words, aptitudes describe what a person can learn to do.

If you develop competencies in line with aptitudes, life becomes productive and much easier.  Competencies lead to the development of skills and abilities.

Module 1, Unit 3, Activity 1

Describe a person who is doing well in his/her chosen workplace as he/she is building a career (he/she has a recognised aptitude.) Find out what else the person is good at doing – perhaps as a hobby (this could be another aptitude, but the aptitude may still be developing to the level where it can become a competence and ability).

  1. What aptitude can you identify in them?
  2. What are their skills and abilities? (Usually a successful person has several competencies to reflect the aptitude).

Write your description of this successful person in your MiCareer Book. Capture two thoughts about aptitudes in your MiCareer Book for future assignments.

I hope that this informal description of the link between these concepts has given you an idea of the importance of each person’s aptitudes and skills. Moreover, you are now aware how aptitudes can link to skills for various work purposes.

We must take care not to let a person’s current exposure levels influence career choices or access rather than people’s innate or natural aptitudes to learn. Please use web exploration and discovery to find your own interests. Use the public domain’s free tests for exploration and discovery of your own interests. You can repeat the tests and share the results with others just as you shared in the Johari Window (see Tutorial Letter PCAR01V/103/2008). Repetition and sharing allow your personal exploration and discovery process to grow. While you explore and discover, you also increase your current functional literacy such as your language comprehension. You develop English and communication proficiencies through exposure to the new words and concepts.

Develop and use stories with pictures to teach others and stimulate learning. Most current tests relate to norms or standards derived from tests conducted on groups of people somewhere in the world. Simply learn from their stories, become aware of your gaps, and plan exercises for exploration and discovery.

Remember the soccer example? Create opportunities for people to explore and experience their own work related skills, abilities, aptitudes and competencies just as a soccer coach would expose people to soccer exercises!

Aptitude explorations and discoveries or tests reveal that students find certain jobs in their careers more productive and more fun.  They are attracted to these jobs naturally and learn because they are internally motivated.

Use the networking section in Tutorial Letter PCAR01V/102/2008 and find practicing experts in the human resources profession.  They usually work in companies or practice as private professionals.  They are the only people who are legislated to use work access tests.  You are not allowed to use any of the legislated tests.  So what is your role?  You simply become a facilitator for candidates.  This means that you help them to explore and discover themselves and possible career opportunities.  You must recommend your clients to access the local registered professionals in order to take locally normed workplace tests.

Module 1, Unit 3, Activity 2

Discuss the topic of Aptitude with your group.

  1. How is overall intelligence linked to aptitude or innate ability?
  2. Which of the following two concepts: skills and aptitudes, looks to the past and which looks to the future? Explain why.

Capture the answers in your MiCareer Book.


Where are we, here and now, in terms of career choice and matched abilities and skills? What are the gaps in knowledge and skills between us and the career we want?

Let us go back to our potential soccer player. Aptitude to learn soccer contributes to how good people can become as soccer players. They only develop the aptitude into abilities if they keep on practising the right exercises with the right peer group, coach or mentors. The same applies to career choices and you are the guide or coach for career choice competencies.

All people benefit from a new inventory of their current revealed aptitudes regularly or yearly. In order to update your list of aptitudes and skills, you need to repeat the exploration and discovery process. Then you should discuss the results with the people around you. In this manner, you learn from what they know and share with them what you know. Apply the process of the Johari Window from Tutorial Letter PCAR01V/103/2008 to explore, discover and discuss your aptitude.

Use Tutorial Letter PCAR01V/102/2008 (for Gmail, group work and networking) and Tutorial Letter PCAR01V/103/2008 (for communication skills) to explore, discover and communicate.  You will use your new knowledge to increase your access to opportunity and resources.

Balance or wellness in life is essential. Exploration and discovery is to be repeated throughout our entire career lives. Additionally, professional checkups are very beneficial to calibrate and accelerate career choices. In future you should organise the career seekers into large groups to introduce them to professionals and to add to their self-discovery at affordable rates. Many professional tests are more affordable in such groups. At the end of this unit, we select and list some International and localized normalized professional tests. They are well worth the money in terms of exploration and exposure to new thinking and options from the extensive reports.

Module 1, Unit 3, Activity 3

  1. Do some of the free aptitude tests on Nicologic.
  2. Be the candidate and do your quick innate or natural aptitude awareness exploration and discovery.
  3. The information gets you thinking, creates an awareness of where you are and leads to interesting discussions.
  4. Answer the following questions and keep the process moving.
  • What did you and your friends agree upon? Write down two specific points.
  • Where did you disagree and why?

It is normal to agree and disagree since the test is very specific to certain circumstances and cultures that differ from yours.  South African society is multicultural and thus we must be very good at knowing what we like and what we do not like. As is the case in soccer or other sports, you must ‘practise’ (discuss) your insights with others.

Capture the personal experiences, discoveries, and answers to the questions in your MiCareer Book.

Module 1, Unit 3, Activity 4

Repeat the aptitude tests on Nicologic.

Be the facilitator and allow a new candidate in the group of three to do the quick aptitude exploration and discovery. The third person is the observer.

The information gets us thinking and creates an awareness of where we are.

Ask the following questions and keep the process moving.

1. What do you and your friends agree upon? Write down two specific points.

2. Where did you disagree and why?

It is normal to agree and disagree since the test is very specific to certain circumstances and cultures, which may differ from your own. South African society is multicultural and thus we must be very good at knowing what we like and what we do not like. As is the case in soccer or other sports, you must ‘practise’ (discuss) your insights with others.

Capture the personal experiences, discoveries, and answers to the questions in your MiCareer Book.

Module 3, Unit 3, Activity 5

  1. Repeat the aptitude tests on Nicologic.
  2. Be the observer / scribe and let a new candidate and facilitator in the group of three do the test (the quick natural aptitude awareness exploration and discovery). The information gets us thinking and creates an awareness of where we are.
  3. Observe and act as the scribe for the activity and career books. Give structured feedback. (What is feedback? Look it up on Wikipedia and Dictionary).
  4. What did you and your friends agree upon? Write down two specific points.
  5. Where did you disagree and why?

It is normal to agree and disagree since the test is very specific to certain circumstances and cultures, which may differ from yours. South African society is multicultural and thus we must be very good at knowing what we like and what we do not like. As is the case in soccer or other sports, you must ‘practise’ (discuss) our insights with others.

Capture the personal experiences, discoveries, and answers to the questions in your MiCareer Book.

Repeat the exercises above in the following activity.  You can share it at home and with friends, to grow your insights and experience the Johari Window, from PCAR01V/103/2008, again.

Module 1, Unit 3, Activity 6

  1. Discuss and ask your group what they think of the areas of aptitudes.
  2. How do they rate themselves? Do they know other people with those aptitudes?
  3. Use the description of the aptitude categories to question yourself about your own aptitudes.  Summarise your own aptitudes that you can apply in the work setting of your choice.

What do I have a good aptitude for:                                              What don’t I have an aptitude for:





Think of yourself and others in as many ways as possible. These aptitudes will help you and your future clients to explore careers in order to choose suitable tasks and work. Remember our soccer player example.

However, for your purpose, the aptitudes, which people show, need to be developed into abilities.  The problem lies therein that some people have not had the opportunity to develop their latent / hidden aptitudes!  Therefore, their lack of ability to do something might be due to the exposure they have had in specific fields – or the lack there of! This means that their potential is wasted. Facilitating the exploration and the discovery of a person’s possibilities gives them a better indication of the possibility of success than an average score on an aptitude test would give them.


One grows or develops chosen abilities that match your aptitudes, by practicing or doing tasks. Typically, someone learns faster by observing and mimicking commercially successful people in the industry of their choice.

Guide people to explore and discover their aptitudes, traits and preferences and they will increase their available choices to choose where and how to gain abilities.  A minimum level of competencies, experience, or ability is needed to follow a specific course of study. The exploration and discovery processes help them to grasp the gaps and help them plan how to eliminate them. They can use the Internet for knowledge and access to successful people in their chosen field in order to observe and mimic them.

Once again, the soccer example is relevant!  You will learn to show them how to bridge the gaps with work experience, short courses, learnerships and internships. You, the guide, should be ready to link the client to these opportunities, relationships and resources and you will get an opportunity to do this in the last module.

You should be very careful when guiding people according to their past or current exposure and mental capacity. As with our soccer player, people can develop a number of jobs into several careers, which are all related, directly and indirectly, to soccer.  There are too many different factors contributing to the totality and uniqueness of a person to use only one aspect (such as current mental capacity) to choose their future career.

Gous and Jacobs (1985:44) state:  “Intelligence is not a unitary factor and should rather be seen as a collection of different functions or factors of ability which contribute to a totality of abilities or intelligence.  There is however, a dynamic interaction between these factors, other personality factors and the environment in which the person finds himself”.

You now have a background to the concepts of abilities and aptitudes. I suggest that you go back to it throughout this module. As a Career Guidance Practitioner, you will revisit the process often and share the processes with others. They will keep on coming back since it is hard to do such exploration and discovery on their own. The returning clients/career seekers create repeat value added business for your practice or your employer. (You may want find “repeat business” on the web through Google search and learn ways on how to grow your income.)

Exploration and discovery is powerful and opens up choices. Analytical tests can be limiting, as they may seem to limit choices. Use such tests to expand your choices by challenging the answers and by growing from these challenges.  The given activities require you to do exactly that.

Look for the Ball Aptitude Battery on Careervision.  These tests cost money, but they are well worth it once your client has been prepared by using the free and simpler tests above.  Also, do the free version of the MAPP test.  Remember to study and discuss the meaning of the words and concepts used in the questionnaires to localize the information for your clients/career seekers.

It is important to understand the concept of talent – keeping the five aptitudes in mind.  Perhaps you need to go back to the explanation of the related concepts at the beginning of Unit 3 to refresh your mind regarding the links between abilities, aptitudes, intelligence, talents and skills.


A talent is a natural and special aptitude.  One could opt to build a career on a talent in many fields such as music, fine art, drama, sport and ballet, but one’s interest in the chosen field would have to be very high. Find experts in your or the career seeker’s field of giftedness and consult them.

The article below (in Activity 8) shows why everyone has to be very careful before deciding on a career built on a special talent. The demands of a career based upon special talents are very high. If you choose to do so, you should acquire fallback competencies. Such competencies make it possible for you to survive (by doing a related job such as stage lighting). You can develop your secondary competencies while working with people presently active in the field.  Your learnt skills can be useful to them.

Module 1, Unit 3, Activity 7

  1. Read the Gift or talent section in wikipedia
  2. Choose two talents or gifts you admire. Why do you admire these gifts?
  3. Choose two talents or gifts you do not admire. Why do you not admire these gifts?

Capture the personal experiences, discoveries, and answers to the questions in your MiCareer Book.

You now know how to repeat the activity for the roles of candidate, facilitator and observer. Try using the roles in this activity.

Are you somewhat overwhelmed?  Perhaps you need to think quietly about these various concepts. You can also try to explain these concepts to a person who is sympathetic towards your ideals to be a CGP.  Once you have done this, you could do the following activity in order to test your own understanding of the concepts.

It remains very important to remember that a career choice might not represent only one of the main career categories, but that it can overlap with different categories at the same time. For example, careers in commercial law, psychology or town planning require developed aptitudes in specific abilities concerning mathematics as well as languages. Choose a growth industry and identify a growth trend. Then find work suited to your aptitude to learn abilities and competencies.


The word skill refers to “expertness, practised ability, and facility in action, dexterity or tact.”  Other meanings are talent, ability, aptitude, expertise, facility, prowess, skilfulness, art, artistry, cleverness, adeptness, adroitness, mastery, handiness, ingenuity, experience, proficiency, finesse, knack, quickness, deftness, technique, accomplishment, forte, strength, gift, capability, expertise, and faculty.”

I hope that this gives you an indication that whenever something is done so well that others notice and comment on it, this action can be called a skill.

Module 1, Unit 3, Optional Bonus Activity 8

  1. Read the skills section in Wikipedia.
  2. Choose two skills you admire. Why do you admire these skills?
  3. Choose two skills you do not admire. Why do you not admire these skills?

Capture the personal experiences, discoveries, and answers to the questions in your MiCareer Book.

You can increase the value of this exercise by using the roles of observer, facilitator and candidate in this activity.


Can you see that you can apply the explored and discovered aptitudes to a wide variety of careers?  After one has explored and discovered some of one’s talents, skills, abilities and aptitudes, it should be possible to transform this knowledge into a verbal or non-verbal aptitude profile. Verbal aptitudes relate to careers where one works with or among people, while non-verbal aptitudes relate to careers where one works with objects or figures.  A combination of verbal and non-verbal aptitudes relate to careers where one works with people and objects or figures, as in commerce.

Once the career seekers complete their explorations and discoveries under your guidance as CGP, they will know which knowledge and skills they possess and start to work on identifying the gaps towards work access with plans to bridge them. This helps them to access their work of choice en route to their chosen career.

Make sure you understand the words used within this context by visiting an online dictionary and looking them up.  If there is a particular word that appeals to you in the sense of a job you might enjoy, make a note of it in your MiCareer Book.


It is important to be aware of individual aptitude to choose the right work area and build a career overlapping with those abilities and aptitudes. Explored and discovered aptitudes direct people to choose work that enlivens their intrinsic motivation and releases energy to build a great career. Always remember that there is more to choosing your work and building a career than just aptitude. You also need to consider your personality, interests and values. We explore interests and values in the following units.  Awareness of these various aspects results in work choices that link to great careers that use the new understanding of each human puzzle piece!

About Unre Visagie
I am a master coach with 30 years of career and business coaching experience. I have built and sold many of my own multi-million dollar companies. I have always built my companies based on the principle of successful people make a successful company. I invest in people. As your coach you get 30 years of experience to help you do the work you love and earn the salary you want.

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