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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Career assessments are not predictions

What do you want be when you grow up? If you are trying to figure that out, you are probably considering taking some career assessment tests.

It is indeed a great idea. Be careful, though. Used wisely, career assessments can help you get a better sense of the types of jobs and activities that might be a good fit for you.

However, people who take career assessment tests misunderstand them, misuse them or mistake them for being more than they really are.

Career assessments are not tests at all.

The word "test" implies right or wrong answers. Most career assessments do not have right and wrong answers. Whatever career assessments you choose to pursue, know that your goal is not to be right but to be accurate and true to yourself.

Career assessments do not tell, they suggest.

No matter which career test you take, its purpose is not to tell you a specific career to pursue. No tool is that powerful.

All a career assessment can do is suggest ideas about careers you might want to explore in more depth.

Think about it this way: If any career test
could accurately tell you which occupation to go into, why isn’t everyone be taking it?
“Garbage in equals garbage out”.

A career test's results will only be as good as the information you put in through your responses. So be honest.

Respond in terms of the way you actually are, not the way you hope to be or wish you could be. And make sure the responses are yours, not those of someone else in your life.

Consider your results with a very open mind.

Some career assessments offer a list of potential careers that might be a good match for you in their results. Do not make these tragic mistakes. Thoroughly explore all the occupational suggestions that show up in your test results, not just the ones you are familiar with.

Beware of junk.

There are many career "tests" available online. Some of these tools are quite reliable and valid, but many are not.

Explore career assessments with a dose of skepticism and be a smart consumer. Has the test you are about to take, and perhaps pay good money for, been well-researched so it accurately measures what it claims to measure?

Do not get test-happy.

You can easily convince yourself that you are doing something about your career concerns by completing a whole bunch of career assessments.

But it is easy to fall into the trap of doing so much testing that you are not taking any other constructive action on your career: The paralysis-by-analysis quandary.

Go easy on the number of tests you complete; there are lots of other things you can and should also be doing to explore your career options, like informational interviews or reading books about a field of potential interest.

Career assessments have helped many thousands of people get a better sense of where they might fit in the world of work.

But thousands of other people who have taken these same tests would have been much better off not using them at all. It will all depend on the person taking them.

It is better to be confident. Confident both in the career assessment tests you take and in how you interpret and use the results.

Gain an Unfair Advantage in Career Development using the tips in this Interview Guide

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