The Highlands Ability Battery Test

The Highlands Ability Battery Test

What sets this career test apart from the others?

The Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) is in-depth and highly personalized. This is a scientific test of timed work samples, not a self-report. Anyone who invests in the process will reap a lifetime of practical and applicable self-knowledge. Upon completion of the HAB, clients receive several extensive, customized reports of 50+ pages that summarize their results. In addition to the reports, clients receive a two-hour debrief session with Susan Thrower, a Highlands Certified Consultant, either in person or by video conference. This in-depth, accurate, and personalized review sets the HAB apart from all other assessments or career tests. The results you receive are known to be the most accurate, quality is consistent, and everyone who takes it has many specific job matches.

In a world that demands faster and faster results, we have held firmly to the integrity of the process. A quick, ten-minute survey that you find online might be able to offer a glimpse into your abilities or personality, but quick and easy surveys yield easily forgotten results.

Think of it this way: you can read a psychology book and learn something about yourself. If there is a quiz at the end, you may even find that there’s a label or category that helps to explain who you are. But imagine the difference between just reading the book and having the opportunity to talk to the author; imagine having an extensive conversation during which the author applies the principles in the book to your specific situation. Your understanding would improve exponentially. In fact, a recent statewide study of aptitude testing for high school students recommended that at least a 20-minute feedback session to review test results be included for maximum impact. There’s no question that feedback adds tremendous value to an assessment. But what can you expect to find out after taking the HAB?

The debrief agenda

Highlands Certified Consultants undergo intensive training on how to understand and interpret the results of the HAB. They are well-versed in all areas of the assessment, including Personal Style Measures, Driving Abilities, Specialized Abilities, and Vocabulary. They also understand how to interpret the results in light of the Highlands’ proprietary Ability Blends and Ability Patterns. A personalized feedback session means that you will not only have the results from the HAB, but you’ll also be able to understand and apply them—to your life today and ahead in the future as well. During the feedback session, you will gain a clear understanding in each of the following areas.

Understanding your abilities

You will understand how the pieces of your various natural abilities fit together to provide meaning for occupational and academic application, with implications for your life and career.

There are No Right or Wrong Answers – If you’re the kind of person who loves to get good grades, you need to put those expectations aside for the HAB. There are no right or wrong answers. Each person’s individualized results help paint a picture of the types of careers and work settings that will allow him or her to thrive.

The results from the HAB are displayed on continuums, with your score marked in relation to other takers of the HAB. We are accustomed to looking at scores and assuming that a higher mark is “good” and a lower mark “bad.” Those typical ways of interpreting the results do not apply to the HAB, however, Susan Thrower will take you through each result and explain the implications of a low or a high score. For example, someone who scores high in Idea Productivity will be good at generating new ideas, while someone who scores low in this area will possess a greater capacity for focus and concentration.

Ability Blends and Patterns of Abilities – We will also walk you through the proprietary Ability Blends and Ability Patterns. Based on extensive research, these combinations of abilities are presented in terms of how they match up with careers, occupations, and jobs that provide an outlet for the use of those abilities.

Understand the significance of your ability pattern

It’s one thing to know that you scored low on the Generalist scale, which is part of the Personal Style category. The benefit of discussing this with a trained consultant is that you’ll understand the significance of that score. You will look back on previous jobs and say, “No wonder I enjoyed that role!” Looking ahead, you’ll have new insight into why, as a Specialist, you will do better in roles that allow you to go deep into a subject area, and why you value autonomy.

Guidance to reach your project goals

The results will open your eyes to the many different facets of your natural abilities and how those can play out in a variety of situations. Unlike some career assessments, you will have a nuanced toolkit to apply to your career decisions for the rest of your life.

The two-hour debrief session serves to sharpen those tools, enriching your understanding of the results and empowering you to apply that knowledge for years ahead. You’ll understand how to evaluate different work roles and environments with confidence, knowing that you can discern what situations play to your strengths from those that will be more challenging.

Work from your strengths

  • Studying/Learning – Students benefit from understanding the how to boost their learning memories, whether it’s by taking notes, listening to recordings of lectures, or moving around regularly while studying. And since learning doesn’t end with formal education, adults will also benefit from understanding how to take advantage of their strengths and learn more efficiently.
  • Problem Solving/Decision Making – Every ability continuum presents different strengths and approaches to problem-solving. Your HCC will make it clear how and why you are an effective problem solver, allowing you to seek out situations in which those strengths are allowed to be used to their fullest potential.
  • Communication Style – Communication is foundational to the success of any enterprise. Not surprisingly, people do not all share the same communication style, and many of the differences can be accounted for by a person’s HAB results. Whether it’s a low Spatial Relations Theory score that draws some people towards abstract conversations over the task at hand, or it’s a high degree of Introversion that makes some people prefer to process ideas internally before sharing their thoughts, there are many insights to be gained from learning your own unique communication style.

Capitalize on your personal strengths profile

One of the most challenging aspects of a job search is knowing how to clearly and succinctly pitch your strengths, skills, and experience to potential employers. The same is true for students who are applying to colleges or trying to land an internship. Susan Thrower will help you process your results in such a way that gives you the language you need to represent yourself on paper. You will be able to know your career field and to list WHY this is a good fit for you in a college application, or in interviews. Plus, you have the added confidence of knowing the strengths you’re presenting aren’t a result of self-diagnosis or based on the opinion of a friend or relative! The HAB results are unbiased, objective, and accurate.

The whole person method

The HAB produces a gold mine of information about what makes you tick and how you naturally approach your life and work. The two-hour debrief session that follows the test takes you even deeper into understanding and interpreting your results and applying them to your career, both now and in the future.

Even with such a wealth of information, there is more for you to take into account as you consider your options for school and work. The Highlands Whole Person Method includes eight different areas of focus to account for your skills, values, family, goals, and more.

For a comprehensive, in-depth, and highly personalized program that will help you navigate your career life with clarity, there’s no substitute for the Highlands Company. Contact Susan today to get started.

Five Keys to Finding a Good Job Within the Next 3 Months

Five Keys to Finding a Good Job Within the Next 3 Months

Amplify your ability to find a good future match between yourself and a new job using 5 actions. Read with an open mind and allow the truth to settle in. This applies to you even if you feel like you’ve never had a great job.

1. Nothing will stand in your way

You are NOT going to allow another month or year to go by feeling stuck, underemployed, unemployed, broke, complacent, disengaged, overqualified, bored, frustrated, overwhelmed, or afraid of losing security.

You don’t care what needs to be done, you’ll do it. This is happening now! And you’ll do what it takes no matter what. You’ll dedicate the time. You’ll get the right support. You’ll show up and do the things to find a job you are excited about.

If you’re not in that kind of energy, you’ll be easily distracted, thrown off by the ups and downs of the process, and you’ll give up and go back to “I’m fine being in the job I have” before you change enough to bring in the right job into your life.

2. Do something different

This may seem obvious but it needs to be said. Stop doing what you’re doing now. Face it, you haven’t found the right job so far, so you need to switch up your focus. Your current beliefs, knowledge, and behaviors are not getting you what you want.

Maybe you’re attracting ideas, but you’re not into them. Or vice versa. Did you have an interview, but you ended up rejected and devastated. Are you willing to do things differently to change your experiences and find a job you long for?

3. Get suitable help to overcome your blind spots

We all have them. To overcome anything stopping you from allowing others to see how much of an amazing employee you are, you need to have someone show you and help you work through your blind spots. You need to be clear and inviting. The other thing about getting help is it only works when you get it from the right source. Your other friend who is as stuck as you (or maybe even more so) will not be giving you high-level advice to help you shift.

Even your happily employed friend with the high paying job is probably not the best because they have forgotten what it’s like and their life is not the same as yours. Stop getting advice that twists you into a knot of overwhelm. Hire someone who is trained in career counseling for your people who has found a job that makes them incredibly happy as well.

4. Get clear

Without knowing exactly who you want in your work, how do you expect to find the job? I’m not talking about just the skills and tasks of your future job, but also the industry, and work environment you want to work in. Write out an entire list and spent time in the whole scenario: What hours am I open to? Whats the impact, the challenges, or what drives the stress level? These are things to get really clear on.

Pro-tip: You also need to be able to recognize when you have found your true match, because believe me that can be tricky also! I speak from personal experience on that one.

5. Stay reasonably positive

You might be a bit jaded if you’ve never had a job you love. You may feel frustrated and unknowingly take it out on others. I get it. But you have to heal those wounds enough to brush yourself off and dive in with an open heart. Isn’t it worth it to if you find or create a job that feels right and flows within the next six months?

If you are willing and able to do these things then you are well on your way to being in a great place in the very near future. Message me if you would like my support to implement these keys and we’ll get started!

10 Best Job Target Tips for New Grads

10 Best Job Target Tips for New Grads

Recent grads all need encouragement and resources to help them on their way of finding a job in their field.

1. Gain Clarity About Your Purpose

Take ample time to think about what you want to accomplish with your career longer-term. What problems or goals do you care most about? What do you want to be committed to solving or serving? You have 80,000 hours in your career. How do you want to spend this time that is meaningful for you? A great website for exploring this “big question” about your purpose is 80,000 Hours. Clarity will make all the difference in finding your top target for an industry, firm, and position where you fit best.

2. Pick Your Target Industry Carefully

Choosing an industry for your career which is right for you for the long-term is critical for building your experience base, skill sets, and network relationships. Think about what your resume will need to include down the road to qualify for a future “dream opportunity” in the context of both a job title and an industry segment. Start your search looking at industries where your skills represent a genuine asset.

Consider reviewing online industry overview reports. These can be found using Google Search: “The US ______ industry”. These reports outline key insights regarding an industry’s outlook, trends, segments, leading firms, innovation, barriers, and opportunities. The industry reports published by top consulting firms (Deloitte, Author D Little, PwC, Accenture, KPMG) are usually free and informative. Other industry pick considerations could include firms with leadership in innovation, quality, efficiency, a relatively stable job sector, or an industry with many large firms or specialties in your geographic area.

3. Find Your Learning Priorities Early On

Investigate jobs in the real world to find your “learning priorities” to invest in to strengthen your job prospect credentials. The following exercise will help you find your priorities and get started.

1) Begin by reviewing job announcements on

2) Copy a range of 20-30 desirable jobs to an Excel spreadsheet, one posting for each column.

3) Color code all required and desired keyword skills by category: technical (blue), software (green), soft (orange), & certifications (red). Find the baseline skills and those to help you stand out or advance.

4)Review LinkedIn profiles of graduates from your college working for firms on your target list or industry. You will also see how some people stand out in a skill area of specialized training.

5) Follow-up on your top learning priority. Find the training resources, format, the time and financial investment, competency testing or certification offered. Enroll in programs from lead training sources.

4. Build Your Network

Networking is the most underdeveloped task I see with students. They have so many options, yet they are not leveraging so many great contacts they have.

Networking is the most underdeveloped task I see with students. They have so many options, and they are not leveraging so many contacts they could add. Make connections. Go out to eat lunch with people. Get to know them well and keep any needs they have in mind, just in case you can serve them down the road with a referral or an act of kindness. One large pool of new contacts are fellow college students in your major, who are a year or two older. You can look these people up on LinkedIn, use your college directory to email them with an invite to lunch on you.

Attend school networking functions and join groups to meet other students. Get outside of your fraternity and consider a volunteer service group to the university. Get to know people in classes and on study teams. Find out what people are doing over school over breaks and if any are stuck on campus because they are an international student. Consider asking them to join your family for a holiday meal. Your college may also sponsor networking meetings for alumni, or have online alumni virtual groups and services, so check on this as well. College alumni are a great group of people who are likely to accept your request to talk about their career over the phone for 20 minutes. Usually, they are happy to help if you are attending their college or you share alumni status.

Another great and often overlooked network group is a relevant professional association. Student can often attend free or for very low cost. Most associations have monthly or quarterly state chapter meetings with presentations. The location may be in your metro area. Attending a meeting can be one of the best ways to find out what interesting developments are going on in a general or specialized career segment.

If you are not aware of any, uses Google for your field name and add an association. (Examples: PDMA – Product Development Management Association Georgia, GPA – Georgia Pharmacy Association, SHRMGA – Society of Human Resource Managers-GA, ” AIMA – Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association, NKBA GA – National Kitchen & Bath Association-GA, PRSA – Public Relations Society of America-GA, or AWTAssociation for Water Technologies. The list is endless of the specialized or general professional associations that exist in the US. Inquire if they offer a discount or 1 free meeting for prospective members or recent graduates job hunting. There are associations that apply to an industry, a skill field, and other specialties. Some associations are stronger for new graduates, and others are international or have a technology specialty, such as SAE – Society of Automotive Engineers. Remember, experts say networking in the 21st century starts out with a more service-oriented approach. “When you focus on the other person and less on yourself, people respond better. It’s about being interested versus interesting,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette coach and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. 

5. Initiate Opportunities

Take the time to create your “most wanted” list of a few target firms. Do your research on the firm’s website. Find LinkedIn profiles of relevant job titles for staff and managers. Note special skills, and how people stand out. Outline all your reasons for why “this firm?” Explain why this firm is your top pick in a cover letter or interview. Call the firm’s main phone number, give your name and politely request the email for the manager or owner. Send a short unsolicited email about your interest, attach your 1-page resume, and ask if they are aware of any possible future job openings in your field? If this is a large firm, ask if they would forward your resume to the person who heads up recruiting in HR, or if they can suggest any other manager contacts. I found this approach has worked for almost all the jobs I’ve been offered.

In addition, sign up for new job posting alerts to your email. A list of the Top 10 Websites for Jobs is posted on Respond promptly to stay at the forefront. If you are unemployed, let everyone you know and meet about your need to find a job. Tell them the firms or fields you are targeting and to let you know if they know of anyone working there or in a related firm. Remember everyone feels good when they have helped someone get a good job.

6. Polish Your Resume

All resumes can use some polishing in the early career. Remember that most hiring managers take a first glance of about 15 seconds to weed down the applicant pile. Try to limit your resume length to 1 page.

Readability is very important. Use a resume template to improve the design and organization of information. All colleges use a similar format, so if you want to stand out, consider another format with stronger design features. Novoresume offers one free template with many design options. Your technical skills are key. Write concise, choosing keywords carefully and matching required skills to the specific announcement. Include quantifiable results that demonstrated how you used your skills for accomplishment results. Review LinkedIn profiles for the target firm and department. Notice how staff stand out and the unique skills each brings to the team. In your cover letter, make it clear how a your key strength, experience, or talent will can be an asset in the team.

7. Practice Your Interview Skills

Prepare for what might be thrown at you while interviewing with a quick Google search (i.e. “communications specialist interview questions”). is a very good career site with a good start publication of Your Ultimate Guide to Answering the Most Common Interview Questions. Take time to work through your responses for each question and recite your responses to a friend or mentor with experience to get feedback. Practicing builds your confidence and helps you be less stressed or nervous going into the interview.

8. Be Prudent with Finances

Outline a personal budget whether you start out with being unemployed, a solid annual income or something that barely gets you by. Keep track of your expenses and live below your means in your young adult years. Make savings a top priority. Know the day will come when you are so grateful because you can pay for graduate school, a health setback, getting married, or see gains from investing your money.

9. Raise Your Integrity Bar and Optimism

Employees who advance the fastest have integrity, they work hard and take personal accountability for their results at work. Stay optimistic. If you are unemployed or on furlough, consider temporary work or finding coaching support. One free and easy to set up project management software I use and recommend is Trello. This tool helps manage and keep me moving on new goals, projects and completion stages.

10. Consider Your Whole Person Needs

Don’t forget that you have other aspects of your being to consider. Investing in your health has a big physical and mental payoff. You have much on your plate now, but don’t forget to exercise, read, eat healthy, and keep a regular sleep schedule to help you feel great at a time that can be very stressful. If you have a significant other or friends also focused on professional growth, talk to them about your situation, goals, progress, and how they can help cheer you on. Finally, work to serve others in meaningful ways.

College Admission Trends

College Admission Trends

Every year the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) releases its State of College Admissions report, with information on what admissions officers are looking for in applicants, what has changed from one year to the next, and more. Here are top current trends that college bound students should be aware of from the 2019 report:

Growth in Application Volume Continues

  • College Application Volume Continued an Upward Trend. The number of applicants from first-time freshmen increased 6%; applications from prospective transfer students increased by 2 percent; and international student applications increased 7 percent, on average. Public colleges experienced an average 1.7 percent decline in transfer applications while private colleges had a 4.7 percent increase.

  • International Student Acceptance Rate is Low. Yield Slightly Higher than First-Time Freshmen. At institutions that enroll first-time international students, the Fall 2018 rate for this population (52 percent) was lower than the rate for both transfer and first-time freshmen students. The average yield rate for international students was 29 percent.

  • Average Yield Rate for First-Time Freshman Holds Steady After Long Decline. The Yield Rate was 33.7 percent. Over the past decade the average yield rate has steadily declined from 48% in Fall 2007.

  • Transfer Acceptance Rate Slightly Lower than Freshmen Rate. Yield Much Higher. More than half (52 percent) of transfer applicants who were admitted ultimately enrolled, compared to only 27 percent of freshman admits.

Recruitment and Yield Strategies

  • Top Recruitment Strategies. College tours remain the top institution strategy when recruiting first-time freshmen.

  • Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) Application Options Activity Increases. According to NACAC, the average yield rate for early decision (binding) admits is 87% – considerably higher than the overall average yield rate (35.1%.) An early decision or early action application option can be an extra motivator for students to apply because admit rates tend to be higher and they will receive their decisions earlier in the admissions cycle. The number of Early Decision applicants increased by 10 percent and the number of students accepted through EA increased by 9 percent.


SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2018–19

Source: NACAC – Survey of Admissions Trends 2018-2019

  • Wait List Activity Increases; Likelihood of Wait List Acceptance Remains Low. Fall 2019 saw the number of students offered a place on an admissions wait list increased by 18 percent, on average. Institutions accepted an average of 20 percent of all students who chose to remain on wait lists.

Factors in Admission Decisions

Top Admission Office Factors for First-Time Freshmen. Overall high school GPA, grades in college preparatory courses, strength of curriculum, and admission test scores. The next most important factors are the essay, a student’s demonstrated interest, counselor and teacher recommendations, class rank, and extracurricular activities.

SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Surveys, 2007-08 through 2018–19

SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Surveys, 2007-08 through 2018–19

  • Importance of Student Background. Nearly one-third of colleges rated first-generation status as at least moderately important in first-time freshmen admission decisions. About one-quarter of colleges considered high school attended, race/ethnicity, and state or country of residence as either moderately or considerably important.


SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2018–19.

Georgia College Applicant Highlights

  • UGA – Early Action Applicants Holds Strong. Nearly 17,000 students applied through early action said UGA’s President Jere W. Morehead.”This is a 25% increase compared to five years ago.PrepScholar indicates admissions is extremely competitive with a GPA of 4.0, so UGA requires you to be at the top of your class, and to take AP or IB courses to show college academics is a breeze.The the average SAT score at 1325, and an average admissions rate of 48.6 percent.UGA continues to elevate its academic offerings and support, resulting in record achievements for its students.UGA set records for six-year completion at 69 percent and matched its all-time high first-year retention rate of 96%. US News & World Report lists UGA No. 16 of top public universities, marking its fourth consecutive year in the top 20, and only two institutions in the Southeastern Conference to be listed in the top 20.

  • Georgia Tech– Enrollment Reaches All-Time High. In 2019, 36,489 students applied to Georgia Tech, an increase of 11.5 percent over the previous year. The additional 3,766 students are primarily graduate students, and a large number are enrolled in online master’s degree programs. The acceptance rate of 18.8 percent is down from 26 percent overall in 2018. Georgia Tech provides a high-quality and affordable education that has resulted in unprecedented growth in the online programs, with the newest in cybersecurity. These programs have made a significant impact on high-tech fields. The average GPA of admitted applicants was 3.98 and the average ACT score was 32, and the average SAT score was 1450. Starting your college prep early in high school, will strengthen your success in the college admissions process.

FOLLOW-ON COMMENT: This article was posted before COVID-19. I expect the update next year will be very different as students are deciding if they will come back or if they will continue with online education. – Susan Thrower