Before you embark on college or a training program, be sure your personal values and dreams are supported by the career you are training for. Do you have the personality for the career you want? If you are already working in a profession or industry and want to advance, have you considered how your current skills and experience prepared you to advance or do you have gaps you need to fill?
Potential employers may require you to take both psychological and performance tests as condition of employment or advancement. You can avoid the disappointment of being rejected for a position or failing to succeed in a position by making sure you are training for the right career and getting the right training for that career.
There are a variety of assessment tests available online, through state or college employment offices, or through career counselors that can help you match your aptitude to a career.
Career Tests Measure Many Qualities
Assessment tests help you identify skills, abilities, and interests. You make better decisions about a career path if you understand what you like (and don’t like), as well as what you do well (and not-so-well). A test that steers you away from one kind of job or training program can also help steer you toward another.
Types of Career Tests
There are two primary kinds of career tests.
- Performance tests measure how much you know, how well you read and write, how well you learn, and how skilled you are.
- Assessment tests measure personal characteristics like interests, work values, and personality traits. They don’t have right or wrong answers; there is no need to study for them.
Assessment tests fall into three categories:
- Interest Inventories helps you identify your interests related to the world of work. An inventory can assist you in identifying training, education, or careers with activities that you might like doing.
- Work Values Instruments allow you to pinpoint what you value in jobs (such as achievement, autonomy, recognition, support, and conditions of work) and then identify occupations that share your work values and the characteristics of jobs.
- Personality Measures help identify your personal style in dealing with tasks, data, and other people. An understanding of your personality helps you to make decisions about training programs, which jobs to apply for, or which career direction to take.
Career counselors administer all three types of assessment tests, as well as performance tests. Individual career counselors and companies specializing in career guidance administer the tests for a fee. You can find a list of these services in the America’s CareerInfoNet Career Resource Library on the Web (acinet.org).
Your school career center may offer testing for free or have lists of local career counselors. Employment services in each state my offer counseling services that include testing. To locate a career service center, visit CareerOneStop (acinet.org), click the Services tab, and enter your zip code.
Another excellent source is the Riley Guide (rileyguide.com). Margaret Riley Dikel founded and edits The Riley Guide and is the author of the “Guide to Internet Job Searching.” (VGM Career Books, 2002)
“Assessments aren’t crystal balls and can’t offer quick and easy answers. When taking them, it’s best to keep their results in perspective,” Riley Dikel says in her article “A Guide to Going On-Line for Self Assessment Tools:” in the Wall Street Journals CareerJournal.com.
Her advice is to “try several assessments, and use your intuition while reviewing the results. Don’t put all of your faith in one tool, even if you’ve used it before. Never forget that you’re unique, and in-depth honest personal examination is always your best assessment tool.”
She also cautions not to assume a test you pay for is going to be better than one you get for free. “However, with many “free” tools, you get what you pay for. After making sure that a tool has been developed and validated properly, heed your “gut” impression about it. If it measures personality by asking about your favorite geometric design or provides a result that seems unbelievable, discard it,” Riley Dikel advices.
The Riley Guide section on Self-Assessment lists the most popular and reputable self-directed assessments tools such as Richard Nelson Bolles book “What Color is Your Parachute.”
One example is the O’NET Profiler. O*NET, the Occupational Information Network, is a comprehensive database of worker attributes and job characteristics. O’NET replaces the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), and is now the nation’s primary source of occupational information.
The O’NET Profiler is designed to help you discover the type of work activities and occupations you might like and find exciting. You download the test to your own computer (onetcenter.org), or download files to print the non-computerized version.