Career Assessments 101

By: William Davis

When you were a kid, people were always asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" If you're now an adult and people are still asking the same question, it might be time to consider a career assessment.

Trying to choose which path to take, or attempting to take a peek into the future, can be nearly impossible. It's hard to imagine where you want to be twenty, ten, or even five years from now. You need the right starting point for charting your future course. Career assessments can be great tools to help you get a better sense of the types of jobs and activities that might be a good fit for you. However, sometimes a person who takes a career assessment can misunderstand, misuse or mistake it as a "test" that holds a different meaning.

* This Is Not a Test
The word "test" implies that there are right or wrong answers. There are no right or wrong answers in career assessments. Your goal in taking the assessment should not be to answer every question "right", but to provide accurate responses that are true to your individuality.

* Choose Your Path Wisely
Career assessments do not tell you what you should do; rather, they suggest possible career path options. No matter which career test you take, its purpose is not to tell you which specific career to pursue. No tool holds that much power. All a career assessment can do is suggest ideas about which careers you might want to explore in more depth. Think of it this way: If career assessments could accurately determine which occupation to go into, why wouldn't everyone be taking them? Some career assessments offer results that include a list of potential careers that might be a good match for you. Thoroughly explore all the occupational suggestions that show up in your test results, not just the ones you are familiar with. If you narrow down the results into your personal "wish list", you could be missing out on a great opportunity.

* Garbage In Equals Garbage Out
A career assessment's results will only be as good as the information you put in through your responses. You need to give honest responses to get quality, reliable results. Respond in terms of the way that you actually are, not how you wish you were or hope you will be in the future. Make sure the responses are yours, not those of someone else in your life. Consider your results with an open mind and answer them with clear judgment.

* Caveat Emptor
There are many career assessments available online. Some of these tools are valid and quite reliable, but many are not. You need to be choosy enough to filter out the junk. Be a smart consumer and explore career assessments with a dose of skepticism. Make sure that the test you're about to take has been well researched, lives up to its claims and meets your expectations. This is particularly important if you are paying money to take the assessment.

* Don't Get Test-Happy
It's easy to convince yourself (or your parents) that by taking many different career assessments, you're actually doing something about planning your career options. Don't fall into the trap of taking so many tests that you're not actually making any progress on your future. You can spend so much time analyzing your analyses that you end up being more confused than you were before you took the assessment. Go easy on the number of career assessments you complete. There are many ways to spend your time more productively, like in exploring your career options, gathering information, speaking to professionals or reading about your potential fields of interest.

Career assessments have helped many thousands of people to get a clearer sense of where they might fit in the world of work, however many thousands have also felt that they were better off without the assessments. It depends on the person taking the assessment, and on the quality of the assessment itself.

Your future is full of possibilities, and a career assessment is a tool to help you along the way. Be confident in providing your responses, and in choosing your career path.

Careers and Job Hunting
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