Articles from TheCareerAdvisor
 
About Career Testing & Assessment
 
  Career testing isn't really "testing." There are no passing or failing grades. The questionnaires should really be called assessment instruments. The process is about self-discovery, learning the truth about yourself.

Career crises occur at predictable times in life: near the end of high school or college, in the late-20s, mid- 30s or early-40s, after a divorce or other life crisis, in the early 60s, even at retirement.

Any time you're uncertain about your future, it helps to have a black-and-white objective view of your skills, talents and interests to help you create a blueprint of your future. This is just as valuable for well-established professionals and senior executives as it is for high school and college students.

Career inventories measure such variables as aptitude, interests, temperament, learning ability, supervisory knowledge, personality and behavior traits, sales aptitude, people orientation, conformity, independence, competitiveness, patience, social style, management style, versatility, need for recognition—plus much more.

The importance of measuring these areas is the interplay of the specific results. For instance, you may be very interested in technical work, find that analytical reasoning and numeric concepts come easily, but have the behavioral style of someone much more entrepreneurial. Instead of considering the data processing or information sciences field, it may be worthwhile to consider selling technical data handling systems.

Testing can help you define the kind of corporate culture you enjoy, how you like to be managed, how much freedom you need, even what your next boss should be like. Testing will confirm some of the things you already know, but it may offer surprises too. You may have strengths you don't realize, or weaknesses you need to address.

Testing shows "right direction," but it also red-flags "wrong direction." It can stop you from making serious, costly mistakes—like getting a law degree and then discovering you hate being an attorney. Or becoming an engineer because you come from a family of engineers. Or becoming a salesman because your father was a manufacturer's representative.

People frequently go into sales because "that's where the money is." They get caught up in the hype of big commissions or multi-level marketing schemes, and they see themselves as millionaires overnight. However, many of these candidates score low in sales aptitude. If they pursue a sales career, they soon learn the test results were right. They can't sell. (And they often have a garage full of unsold water filters to prove it.)

People often choose certain fields because they're glamorous, or because it's expected of them. In my own case, I came from a medical family where my father and grandfather were physicians, and my mother was a nurse. I was expected to follow in their footsteps and was disappointed in myself for not doing so. Years later I took a Strong Interest test which showed that my interests were "very dissimilar" to those of physicians. Therefore, medicine would not have been a good career choice. Learning that was a big relief.

It can be satisfying to learn the truth about yourself, and to learn, perhaps, why certain things in the past have worked, or else failed. If you know yourself well, you can develop work situations you like, and avoid work environments where you might fail.

Typically, and in the hands of a certified interpreter, testing can help discover where your success path likely falls. Oftentimes, minor fine tuning, sometimes in the area of time management, assertiveness, "selling yourself better," or opening up creative doors otherwise closed, can make a huge difference in your happiness.

Career tests require an investment of time and money. The time committment, secondary to most people, is actually more important to consider. Armed with test results, you may need to spend time in library research or informational interviewing. Behavioral changes are often in order. This might include seminars, books, tapes, or actual practice necessary to change areas that would suit your overall career direction.

If you have the opportunity to take career tests, please do. You can never know too much about yourself. In general, the better you know yourself, the easier it will be to design a satisfying work and lifestyle.

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