Using Assessment Tests to Determine Your Career Path

You may have tried one back in high school: your school guidance counselor gathered all the juniors and seniors together and handed out these standardized tests to determine what you should be when you grow up, to help in making plans for college. Of course, they were supposed to be all about what you should be and not what you wanted to be, but you could still skew the results that way if you weren’t careful (or didn’t care). I remember all the bars showing what areas best suited my responses… and all of the lines were very short except for one (turns out, as things go, it was the wrong one). Plenty of other people were told they should be park rangers because of a love of horticulture… many laughs all around.

So if you can skew them so badly and some seem to pull answers out of thin air, are the more sophisticated ones useful for those of us who have left high school and even college far behind?

Are you wondering what career you should go for? Are you looking to make a career change mid-life but still feel like you don’t really even know what you want to do when you grow up? Your resume is great for telling you where you’ve come from, but would a self-assessment test like, say, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the DiSC Profile, or the Strong Interest Inventory, be helpful in pointing your way forward?

Well, we’ve checked with a number of professionals on the subject to see what they think:

Matching your personality, preferences and natural abilities to the kinds of requirements of work, pressures and environments of a given career can be one among many predictors of your ease of achieving success. When you work at a job that aligns well with your personality, it will likely feel natural… Assessment tools like Myers-Briggs can enable you to understand your preferred way of getting energy, perceiving information, making judgments and organizing your life. This tool assesses people in terms of their inherent tendency toward being Extravert or Introvert (E or I), Sensate or I(N)tuitive (S or N), Thinking or Feeling (T or F) and Judging or Perceiving (J or P). Your overall personality is the combination of one of these choices in each of the four category sets.

There are many ways that various tests dissect human personality and behavior and correlate them to types of jobs that fit well. For example, individuals oriented toward working with things and ideas might fit well as scientists, forensic types or in other problem-solving fields. Alternatively, people orientated toward working with ideas might do well as writers, artists, or other creative types.

Of course, it might be that you have a particular interest in a field that isn’t generally associated with your personality type (which is what kept skewing my results on those tests in high school). Though you may be able to handle that type of job, it will feel less natural and take more energy to get it done properly – like writing with your nondominant hand. It isn’t that you can’t or shouldn’t do the job. But it certainly shows the limitations of the tests that focus on your responses.

Testing is one of many considerations that should go into deciding on one’s career direction. The various personal assessment tests have value insofar as they can help an individual in the process of self-discovery. I’ve always been partial to the 360Reach survey. With this tool, a person surveys friends, colleagues, relatives, or others. The results can provide valuable feedback about how you are seen and help you determine what differentiates you from everyone else in the marketplace. This tends to work better than the usual surveys limited to people with whom you work.

Of course, the MBTI test is often required by employers to aid in their candidate assessment, so understanding how you respond to this test can be beneficial in determining whether your potential employer will consider you a good fit, not just in terms of competency but also work culture and team dynamics.

So, what’s the bottom line for job seekers and career planners?

When used appropriately by both employers and job seekers, testing can be a useful element of the Chemistry part of the equation, in determining the best candidate to job to employer fit… but it isn’t and shouldn’t be the final decision point, so use with discretion.

Good luck!

Should Assessment Tests Determine Your Next Career Move? | Arnie Fertig via US News & World Report

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