A Guide to Understanding Career Assessments

Do you frequently take quizzes like “What animal are you?” on Buzzfeed? Or maybe you’re a diehard Enneagram or Myers-Briggs fan? 

These assessments — also called tests, instruments, inventories, or questionnaires — can be a helpful tool for job seekers. But no assessment will have the perfect answer to “what you should be when you grow up.” 

If you google “career assessments,” you’ll see well over two billion results! Not all of these assessments are created equally, and they all have different levels of usefulness. You can take as many assessments as you want, but if you don’t understand how their information applies to your career development, they might not be very helpful. 

Let’s look at why assessments can be such a valuable tool and some of the most common types of assessments you can use.

Why Should I Take Assessments? 

Just like you shouldn’t leave big life decisions up to your horoscope, you shouldn’t choose your career solely based on an assessment. An assessment is merely a tool you use to learn about yourself. Its purpose is to give you the information to make your own decisions. 

Although assessments certainly aren’t the be-all, end-all, they can help you: 

  • Find careers that fit your values: Which occupations would be a good match for you? You can find careers and companies that align with what matters to you by identifying what’s important to you.
  • Explore careers: Assessments help you pinpoint specific careers that intersect with your skills, interests, values, and personality. Plus, they’re a great way to consider careers you might not have been aware of or looked at otherwise. 
  • Educational planning: What education or skills are needed for a specific career? Assessments can tell you what experience and skills you need to step into your dream career. 
  • Plan career changes: If you’re an established professional looking for a career change, assessments can help you figure out your next steps. Do you need to go back to school, earn a certification, or do something else entirely? 

Bottom line, assessments are tools for exploration. By gaining more self-awareness through assessments, you can understand yourself better and chart a future based on that self-awareness.

The 4 Types of Assessments

Most assessments ask you questions and spit out impressions that are meant to help you learn something about yourself. But with so many assessments out there, it can feel overwhelming! 

Good news: there’s no such thing as one perfect assessment. While you should steer clear of any assessment that tells you, “You should be a …,” it’s a good idea to take more than one assessment to see a fuller picture of yourself.

I recommend that you use a variety of tests that fall into these four categories.

1. Personality

Exploring how your personality works, how you make decisions, and how you experience the world will give you insight into your career choices. Personality assessments help you identify your core personality traits and match them to a career or company that meshes with your needs. For example, if you know you’re shy but creative, you might prefer to work remotely in a graphic design job. Want to look at your personality type? Check out the Myers Briggs, Type-Coach, Truity, or Do What You Are assessments.

2. Aptitude

Skill or aptitude tests take inventory of the skills you already have. You can use this information to see if your current abilities match an occupation’s requirements. Aptitude assessments are a good way to highlight which skills you need to develop to pursue a particular type of career. There are numerous aptitude tests to choose from, including SkillScan, Knowdell Motivated Skills, WorkKeys, YouScience, and Johnson O’Connor.

3. Interests

Interest assessments help you identify things that you’re naturally interested in. This doesn’t mean that everyone who’s a nature-lover should work as a park ranger. However, interest assessments can help you identify potential careers that others with similar interests have enjoyed or work experiences you might not have yet explored. Useful interest assessments include Holland’s Self-Directed Search, the Strong Interest Inventory, SparkPath, and CareerOneStop.

4. Values 

What matters most to you? Your value system and priorities have a huge impact on what types of careers you’ll find rewarding. When you define your values, you’ll be able to select a career you find rewarding and spot employers who share your values, too. Popular values assessments include O*Net Work Importance and Knowdell Career Values.

Self-Discovery Starts with Asking Questions

Every person has innate preferences, values, and skills. Choosing a fulfilling career requires you to become aware of your uniqueness and then use that information to map out a rewarding career.
If you’re swimming in assessment data and still can’t make heads or tails out of your future, it’s incredibly helpful to have someone pull all the data together and apply it to your situation. There’s no single “right” answer, but together we can find themes in your life that will help you move in the direction of a rewarding career. Schedule a call now to see if we’re a fit.


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