Career Tests: Make the Right Choice For Your Future

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Can career tests tell you anything that you don't already know? Yes - and it's possible that an assessment will open doors of opportunity that you didn't even know were there.

A career assessment is an excellent way to help you make the right choices about your career.

A word of caution though. Career assessments will not make decisions for you.

Think of the assessment as a tool that you use. You still need to take all the feedback and information and make a final decision for yourself about the career changes you wish to make.

Completing a personal analysis will give you a better understanding of your skills, interests and abilities. It will highlight career options that you might not have thought about yet. But it cannot tell you what to do.

Keep reading to find out more about career tests or jump straight to recommended career tests.

Career tests are excellent if...

  • you're wondering "what can I do"?
  • you're making a career change
  • you feel "stuck" in your job
  • you want to work again after a break
  • you've lost your job or are being retrenched
  • you need to choose the right course to study
  • you want a career that includes a sense of meaning and purpose

I believe assessments contribute to personal growth as they can reveal information you didn't know about yourself. Armed with these insights you can market yourself strategically and advance in your present career.

What else is a career assessment good for?

Great question!

  • Many online career assessments are really interesting and can be fun - and they'll give you good suggestions about the right career for you.
  • You'll discover more about your personality and your character (your interests, values, preferences, motivations, aptitudes and skills, for example).
  • You can use a test to get a sense of how satisfied or successful you are likely to be in different work environments. When you know that a career area is right you'll be positive and confident in your work.
  • An assesssment can suggest career ideas that you had not thought about before.
  • An assessment can simply help to give you a sense of direction regarding your career.
  • Sometimes a career assessment is useful to rule out some of the career ideas you have.

This list could just go on! Completing a career test, especially a holistic career assessment, is always going to benefit you.

So - Which career tests are best for me?

Well, that really depends on what you want.

If you're just doing a career quiz for fun or out of mild interest in the end result then many of the free online tests will meet your needs.

But as soon as you are taking career assessment more seriously, and are really wanting to use the results as a guide, you need to be looking for a more serious test.

Why? Because you want to trust that the career test is actually  measuring what it says it measures.

Look for career assessments that promote their validity as a selling point. The test should have references to studies published in peer reviewed scientific journals.

You should look for, or ask for, references and a professional manual. If these aren't available then the test is not valid and you should avoid it. A recommendation by a large organisation is not enough.

Another option you have is to use a professionally trained career counsellor who understands the importance of validity.

Online or Offline career testing?

There are some important differences between online and offline career assessments:

Online career tests are all the automated tests, assessments, and inventories available on the internet. You select answers to standard questions and a final page gives you instant feedback.

Use these if you're having fun, but don't take the results too seriously. There are good online tests, but look for evidence that the online career test is valid.

Some online tests do require payment, but generally the fees are not expensive.

The only trouble with an online career test is that you don't have access to someone to help you make sense of the information. You might consider taking the results of the tests you do to a career counsellor who can help you apply the information to particular career areas.

Offline career tests are career assessments used by professionals in various settings. These are generally standardized tests and can be computerised or paper and pencil tests.

Licenced or registered professionals should only be using valid tests, but there's no harm asking for evidence of this. There may be a delay between completing the test and receiving results and feedback. You should expect to pay for the service, although discounts or group rates may be offered.

Holistic Career Assessments

These days many career counsellors talk about using holistic career assessments. Usually this means that you're getting more than a dude in a suit telling you what job to do after you've filled in a questionnaire or two.

Career testing used to be done this way - it was based on the belief that everything, including your abilities or personality, can be measured and compared to some kind of 'normal'.

You'd complete a career test that simply compared your answers and 'personality' to some kind of standard and then pushed out an answer, an ideal career, for you.

No-one tried to understand your context or the meaning you attach to particular qualities.

Fortunately this has changed. There's a growing awareness that humans cannot just be measured and expected to conform to particular laws and principles.

More emphasis is placed on understanding your qualities with in the context of your life and the meaning that this has for you.

Rather than answering "what job can I do?", holistic career assessments answer "what should I do with my life?". Holistic career tests take personal contexts and how these influence your career decisions into account.

You'll find there's less emphasis on the scoring of tests and more emphasis on understanding the results in the context of your life.

In a dramatic turnaround, you are considered to be the expert in your life, rather than the person assessing you.

This kind of career test is not readily available online and you will need to find a career counsellor who understands the concept of holistic career assessment.

If they're talking about 'holistic' career assessment check what they mean by this and what they are offering you. Find out how long the assessment process will take. A holistic career assessment is not usually completed in one session.

Career Test Resources

Personality Tests

If you know your personality type then you can apply that knowledge to a career and discover which career 'fits' best for you. That's the theory that drives much of the personality based career testing.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality inventory is a popularly used career test and is the foundation for many of the other personality based assessments you'll find.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality inventory: Find out more about the test and how to access it. There's often a fee associated with this test, but it varies a lot depending on who is offering the test.

Other resources for online career assessments based on the MBTI personality inventory include:

Keirsey Temperament Sorter: This is a useful test but be aware that the free Temperament Mini Report you receive gives you limited feedback focused on your personality type.

Start by answering 71 short questions and then register with an email address and a password of your choice to maintain confidentiality. You'll receive an email with a link to access the free Temperament Mini Report.

You are required to buy more in-depth reports to access more information.

The 18-page Career Temperament Report will give you your personality type and career suggestions based on your temperament and currently costs $19.95.

Tip: once you've received your personality type go to the menu bar at the top of the page and search for your personality type under 'The Four Temperaments'. You'll find more information and links to the best job fit for your personality type on the website.

The Jung Typology Test from HumanMetrics is a useful free test. There are 72 short questions and you get an instant short report indicating your personality type.

It also includes a link to a list of careers associated with your personality type.

   What Color is your Parachute?

Don't forget to get a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute? if you are serious about finding the right career. This best selling book for job hunters and career changers is updated every year and will give you practical examples, instructions, and advice for choosing a career.

Interest Inventories

Interest inventories work to find a match between your interests and a career.

Self-Directed Search (SDS): I use this frequently in my practice and it's a very useful place to start. Based on John Holland's theory of classifying people and occupations you'll get a three letter personality code that is applied to different occupations that provide the best 'fit' for you.

The assessment costs $9.95 and you can read a sample report and get plenty of information about the theory on the website.

Career Key: The Career Key is based on John Holland's theory of career choice and is one of the few web based career assessments that gives a lot of information about its validity. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. Costs $9.95 and gives you the option to convert and pay in your own currency.

Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS): This used to be available on its own but now has joined up with the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (reviewed above). The CISS is a very useful tool and gives a comprehensive report. Costs $29.95 and includes the Keirsey Temperament Sorter report.

Great FREE career tests

CoachCompass® Assessment: Excellent test to discover areas for further development and coaching, but does not give useful ideas for career direction. Very simple report after completing an easy test consisting of 16 questions. You need to register first!

Future Proof Your Career: Completing the Future Proof Your Career questionnaire gives you a free online Personal Career Profile, designed to help you "Discover Your Work!"

Based on self assessment of your abilities and enjoyment of activities this test is a useful place to start. You need to register for this career evaluation and you'll be offered an e-book for $29.90 to help you interpret the results. There is a 60 day money back guarantee on this offer. Your results are available immediately and are also emailed to you a few hours later.

Careerlink Inventory: Measures aptitudes, interests, temperaments, physical capacities, preferred working conditions, and the amount of time you're prepared to give to studying or becoming proficient in the career.

This is easy to complete and excellent for opening up many career opportunities linked to your abilities. The assessment gives a percent match to a career area and offers specific ideas within that career area. You'll need to make careful decisions or consult a professional coach or career counselor for further assistance. The Career Decision making Difficulties Questionnaire.
This free resource is designed to help you make career decisions. There are eight different tools provided. Each has a slightly different emphasis to assist you with your career decision. For example:

  • Career Decision making Difficulties Questionnaire. What difficulties do you have in making a career decision and how can you overcome these?
  • Career Preferences. Do you know what you're looking for in your future career?
  • Discover your career decision making style.
  • A systematic, 3-stage process leading to making a better career decision.
  • Broad prescreening stage, then helps to locate promising career options, and then assists you to get relevant information about the careers.

This career assessment provides information about validity, but you'll have to read through a comprehensive Powerpoint presentation in the "for career counselors" area to get it.

The career test is easy to complete and the feedback at the end of each of the career tests is useful. You're given plenty of information and recommendations. Definitely recommended.

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