Education

Be careful how you use career assessment tests


According to careerbuilder.com, one in five workers have utilized career assessment tests, ranking them among the most popular methods for researching a new job.

But are the tests that effective? They probably give you some insight into what you should be doing with your career. They may be able to splash the cold water of reality in your face when you need it. If your dream job is one that requires a great deal of organization, but your test results indicate that organization is not your strong suit, it could keep you from making a leap into a job that you shouldn't make.

Having said that, I wouldn't rely solely on test results for career guidance. I can remember taking tests like that in high school that would return a career suggestion that would just turn my stomach, so they're not always accurate.

Also, don't confuse passion for a career with an ability to do well at it. For example, it could be your lifelong passion to be a world-renowned opera singer, but if you physical limitations prevent it (e.g., you're tone deaf) then it's not a career choice for you.

It's a good idea to talk to co-workers, friends, and former bosses, etc., for some suggestions on what, in their opinions, you're good at. You may think you're a terrible public speaker but people who have heard you speak may feel differently.

The careerbuilder.com article quotes Steve Boller, the director and head career coach of the career guidance program The Oxford Program, which offers these tips for using career assessment tests.

  • Don't expect a career assessment to point you to your dream job. Most career tests measure one aspect of a person, such as interests, personality or aptitude, and the results are merely suggestions based on that one area of assessment. Just because a person has an interest in marine biology doesn't mean he or she has the natural abilities for the work.
  • Do make sure the test meets the two primary criteria: valid and reliable. Validity indicates how well the test measures what it says it measures, and if a test is reliable, the results of the test will be consistent if taken multiple times.
  • Do give honest answers. If an individual consciously or subconsciously answers questions to fit an outcome he or she has in mind, the results will not be very useful.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

13 comments
scats67
scats67

A career assessment test will help you go in the right direction, but you will also find that a company you apply for use a PEO to administer a pre-employment assessment. Those tests will also help you in deciding if that company is the right one for you. It will test you on your skills, and through the test, you will learn what that company is looking for. If you don't get the job, or at least continue on to an interview, then you know that job wasn't right and there may be some skills you should work on or develop.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Passion for a subject/career trumps all and unless there is an extreme physical or mental limitation, passion alone is usually sufficient to make you somewhat sucessful, if not extraordinarily so. Beethovan was not tone deaf, he was deaf as a post, but he had a passion that overcame it. Thomas Edison by his own estimations had mediocre talent, but a passion for what he did.

PCMCIO
PCMCIO

All - my experience with career tests is they often point you in the direction of rather odd careers that often have very little oppurtunity or money. Example - a recent test I completed suggested I should be a forest ranger. Not meaning to sound degrading to the men and women that provide that service, I don't see a real career path, nor do I see a lot of money making potential.

faradhi
faradhi

The advice to see a Vocational-Rehabilitation (Voc-Rehab)Counselor should have been on the top of the DO list. A Voc-Rehab Counselor will provide a battery of tests that norm to give a more holistic view of where you may excel. However, do not be surprised to see a wide range of options after the tests. After I injured my back, I went to the local university, who gave me a wide array of tests. It took a solid 8 hours. From the individual tests, I got options ranging from Attorney to Zoo Keeper. However, the choices were narrowed considerably when the tests were combined and a Voc-Rehab counselor explained the results.

aprilpain52
aprilpain52

seems the career assesment tests that I have taken, and have taken several, came from the same source and absolutely useless. None of them were directed toward the basis of the job description.

mabingle
mabingle

I've been in IT for almost 41 years. I went into it because of an aptitue test I took in 1966 and aced it. I went to school for it and became a programmer at the age of 18 for Tenneco Chemicals. I liked IT, but it was different then. I liked the people and we all seemed to work much better to achieve the same goal. There was very little politics then and our users respected us. However, for the past 10 years I have become dis-enchanted by IT. The fun part is all politics and BS. But, I can still ace the aptitude test. So, what I am saying is that it's all luck, timing, right place right time, who you work for, culture, etc, etc. that will make you happy and successful at your job. It isn't the guidance of a test.

exhitechhobo
exhitechhobo

Agreed... In my senior year in High School, the top suggestion for a career choice for me was as a forest service/park ranger... based upon my knowledge & my love of everything related to the outdoors... At that time (late 70's) it required 4yrs of college - including, of course, 80% courses that had absolutely NOTHING to do with anything related to becoming a ranger in any capacity - and if I recall correctly, offered a starting salary of about $16K/yr...a definitive turn off to someone who already had completed 2+ yrs of electronics vocational coop in the public school system I attended...1/2 day every day for the Jr and Sr year - and gave me a state certification equivalent to an AS degree in Industrial/Communication Electronics. This training had already landed me a job with the company that brought out the second PC on the market - missing beating out the Apple as the first only because Steve Jobs moved out of his garage to a manufacturing facility roughly 2 weeks before the company I worked for (Ohio Scientific) did the same. The computer industry in the mid 70's was obviously VERY much a growth field, and while I started at $3.25/hr in 1976 testing keyboards for the company - six months later I was making $11.75 as the #2 tech out of approx 25 after finding the solution to a design flaw in the static refresh memory boards we used back then - and keeping the secret to myself as I repaired 30 boards to every 2 the next closest tech managed - job security - as I managed to repair everything that needed repair virtually by myself - I would have NEVER done such a thing if it impaired the overall output of the company. But I digress...the ranger positions offered the $16K salary, plus a vehicle (truck), and a fully paid housing allowance in whatever park you worked for in Ohio - and although I managed a 25+ year career as a field engineer in the computer industry - many of those years earning over $100k/yr - on nothing more than the 2yr vocational program I went through at no expense other than the cost of my books - to this day I'm not sure I made the right choice, as my love of the outdoors - and the peace I find when I found the time to spend time there - would have been worth its weight in gold to me...and that peace is certainly something one NEVER finds in the 7x24 schedule that my career as a field engineer demanded from me for nearly 30 years before I finally retired for medical reasons... Sorry for the rambling message - I guess the point I've tried to make here is that one needs to REALLY think about the pros and cons of their options - whether money is really the final deciding factor over which choice would truly make you happy - and leave ones soul most at peace... It's not always as cut and dried as a simple choice made upon which paycheck is higher - there's also the matter of the cost and the drain taken on the very root of ones peace of mind and soul... The requirement to drop everything important in ones personal life and perform for anyone paying the dollar to your employer - or to you personally if you're "lucky" enough to be self employed (and I've done it BOTH ways)- anytime a call comes on your pager (back in the dark ages) or nowadays your cell phone - 7 days a week, 24 hrs a day - takes a toll on any normal person that can FAR outweigh anything money can buy... Sorry - I'm doing it again...Just give a LOT of very hard thought to what makes you happy..and gives you true satisfaction... both now and what it might take after 10-20 years of living with the choice you make today... and realize that there are a LOT of things in life that often are worth FAR more than whatever your big salary might be able to offer you later in life...and - as one who has "been there - done that" - and chose to chase the dollar thinking all else would fall in place after that, I can tell you that what followed for me was a string of failed relationships, a failed marriage with a great son paying the price, years of alcohol and drug abuse looking for some type of personal peace and finding far too late that the money really meant VERY little in the pursuit of happiness... Not sure I completely regret the choices I made - but I know the life I chose caused a LOT of pain to a LOT of people I really cared about - and that is something that NO AMOUNT of money can NEVER undo... Just be sure to look at ALL sides of the issue both now - and with an eye to what it might mean later in your life...before deciding what it is that you may REALLY want to chase in your life in the name of the almighty dollar... Best wishes...and best of luck...in all that you choose to do with your career and your life... Ron

Dave Lathrop
Dave Lathrop

The best tests help you look at what your values are. If you value clean living and the great outdoors over money, then forest ranger may be a good choice. If you value money it might not. Knowing your "value preferences" is important for choosing a particular position. A "forest ranger" position could be manning a lookout tower (good if you like being alone) or working with the public in info centers or tours (good if you like being the center of a group).

mad tabby
mad tabby

See, forest ranger would of actually been a good fit for me. I like the woods, I like the animals, I have nothing against [u]responsible[/u] hunters. Accounting wasn't. Not that I didn't have the aptitude, but the higher I got up the ladder, the more the moral issues were bugging me. Bookkeeping was great, I loved bookkeeping. I actually enjoyed EOY audits.

mad tabby
mad tabby

Was laid off, company paid for it. He gave me a test, told me I should become an accountant, and sent me on my way. I hated accounting. Finally read that book "What colour is your parachute". It doesn't give you direct answers, but it does make you look deep inside and figure out what you want. Also my highschool one said I should go into pure sciences (great $10/hr to torture rats). Anyway that didn't pan out because according to my parents, because I was female, my only role was to get married and have babies. (I'm such a dissappointment ;) ) But then again, the book doesn't give you a quick fix, now does it.

michelle.morland
michelle.morland

Hello my friend, Hope you will appreciate my advice. You're a gifted and talented person and that's like a writing on the wall. No. Not doing any chummy talk and that's simply what I felt after reading your post. Yes, things have certainly changed and this change is permanent. You must have heard the famous saying that "Change is the only permanent thing". In my personal opinion a few things are changing for the better while majority of the chances are bringing in just the opposite impact. Just my opinion. We only have 2 choice: Either adjust our sails accordingly (please note that I am not advocating any compromise in values) or try to fight the tide which will yield only the obvious result. The only +ve side of the later approach is that someone may write a short essay above a brave guy/girl... Hope you are with me Politics and BS. My friend, you ain't seen nothing yet but on a +ve note keep in mind that you'll find these 2 devils in almost every organization. You'll come across power-hungry people, back-stabbers, etc. etc. etc. BUT that does not mean that you should change your self. There is always a mid. way between 2 extremes and I would recommend that you give some serious thought about what I have shared (not sure if you're with me)... Why the hell have I wasted your time by making you read what I've just typed? Because you sound reasonably down and just want you to know that nothing's either the end of the world or worth brooding over! .. I guess it's time for me to shut up :) but I would recommend that you get hold of a shorty story called "Who stole my cheese". Just read it (i think it's no more than 10 pages but you won't b bored) and decide for yourself if it has any relevance to your post and my reply. Best wishes.

richard.wilson
richard.wilson

41 years! That is very awesome and very impressive! Your time and dedication have forged the path for us all and I for one am very appreciative. I agree that, without all the politics and BS, IT for me would be a dream come true. (geeky I know, but the truth)

faradhi
faradhi

See a Good Professional.

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