How Can a Career Assessment Help You?
The typical free or cheap online career test is tied to a particular website and is more self-serving to that site than to you. The information you get is generalized and of questionable value to you.
That’s not to say that paying a high fee ensures better career assessment - that’s not accurate either. Many state colleges and community colleges offer career assessment testing at a low cost or no cost for local residents. You can also go to a psychologist or licensed counselor for career assessment tests and a written report. The fee for this varies, so ask before you go.
In Career Assessment, Dr. John Holland’s Self-Directed Search is based on his theory of six career constructs, which is referred to as RIASEC. This is widely accepted as the gold standard for general career placement.
With years of validation and studies, Dr. Holland’s concept is taught in career counseling and used by many career and guidance counselors. RIASEC stands for the six areas measured: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.
This theory suggests that you find the highest level of success and personal satisfaction by matching your work personality to the work tasks. For example, a Realistic type works well in practical, action oriented jobs such as Police Officer, Flight Engineer, Plumber or Carpenter. The Enterprising work style is to be highly involved in the environment and with others such as a Hotel Manager, Real Estate Agent, Camp Director or Lawyer.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the most intensively researched of all psychological assessments. Based on the theories of Carl Jung and developed by a mother-daughter team, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers, this simple forced choice answer test is the most often used in Fortune 500 companies for team building as well as career placement.
There are no right or wrong answers - merely your preferences for dealing with people, decisions and the environment. The four pair of opposites are: Extraversion-Introversion, Sensing-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling and Judging-Perceiving.
In scoring the assessment, the individual’s answers become a letter code. For example, a person who is found to be ENFJ would have the characteristics of Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging.
The professional, career counselor or guidance counselor who gives the test will provide an explanation of what this means and how it is useful to you in a work setting. Myers-Briggs Institute for Psychological Types at the University of Florida also maintains extensive research on how each type coordinates with specific job titles using the government’s Occupational Index titles.
Other valid and reliable career assessment tests that are administered by licensed professionals are My Vocational Situation and Career Beliefs Inventory. My Vocational Situation categorizes answers along three scales; Lack of Vocational Identity, Lack of Information or Training and Emotional/Personal Barriers.
This brief inventory is a great to do early in the career change planning. By understanding which of these three problems is the biggest hurdle to making the change, you can address the specific needs.
If the problems hindering career change are emotional or personal, you may need to enter psychological counseling to overcome lingering issues that hold you back. If the personal problems are more in areas of finances or relationship, then either hire a financial planner to teach money management or ask the significant other and family to join you in counseling. The truth is, you can’t push aside emotional or personal problems in making a career change. They will surface and sabotage your efforts. Deal with those problems first.
Career Beliefs Inventory helps to get at those hidden fears and false beliefs that may be holding you back from changing careers. This inventory rates your answers on five scales - My Current Career Situation, What Seems Necessary for My Happiness, Factors that Influence My Decisions, Changes I am Willing to Make and Effort I am Willing to Initiate.
As you can see from the titles, these five scales represent significant issues in career change. Knowing in advance which need the most attention and making a plan to deal with them is well worth the time, money and effort.
What about free online career tests? These can be interesting and maybe give you some useful information. The problem is that most are not valid and reliable, that is, subjected to professional evaluation and normative data on a broad population in the way that the assessments mentioned in this article have been.
You don’t know whether the free online career test was created by a psychologist or guidance counselor based on actual vocational counseling experience or if it was written by a guy who barely passed high school but set up a flashy website and is using this to attract your attention. Imagine the difference the results of these career tests might give. Are you willing to bet your future on an uncertain assessment?
The final test is the Gut Check Test. No you won’t find it among the traditional career tests. This is where you have to get in touch with your real wants and desires, not what other people tell you, and think about whether you can see yourself in that career.
If you have no actual idea what the job involves on a daily basis, ask someone who is in that job if you could shadow for the day. Explain that you are considering a career change and by following this person through a typical day, it would greatly help you decide whether this is the field for you.
Many people will invite you to spend the day with them. If someone says no, then ask another person. If you have to take off for a vacation day or unpaid day to do this, look at it as an investment in making a smart career change.
Once you know more about a day in the life at this job, then you can visualize yourself going to work each day, performing the duties of that job. Don’t just focus on the exciting parts of the job - see all aspects of the job.
If you open your eyes and see a smile on your face, chances are you’ll feel good about this job. If you see a quizzical expression, then keep checking - you haven’t found it yet. The Gut Check Test is surprisingly accurate.