If you’re not sure which career path to pursue as you search for your next job, you’re not alone. Many job seekers and career changers struggle trying to decide what they really want to do with their careers, making the choice of which companies and job openings to apply for especially challenging. If you find yourself uncertain about which direction to take in your job search, you may want to consider a self-reflective process called career assessment to learn more about your work style as well as your true strengths and interests. Career coach and consultant Nadine Franz (The Benefits of Career Assessments to Your Job Search) recommends a career assessment, also referred to as a self-assessment, to help gain clarity, self-awareness and insights into which career options might be the best fit for you.
Career assessment is a process of evaluating your interests, skills, personality traits and values by completing one or more career assessment questionnaires. Assessments usually focus on specific areas, such as skills, interests or values, and typically consist of questions that allow you to explore your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, personal preferences and what’s important to you. Since career assessments are not tests, there are no right or wrong answers; rather your responses are meant to help you learn more about yourself.
Some of the questions that career assessments might help you answer include:
- What occupations best fit my skills, knowledge and interests?
- What is my preferred work environment?
- What motivates me?
- How do I communicate with others?
- What are my values and standards?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What are my marketable skills?
- What are my interests and passion?
There are five main types of career-related self-assessments: Holistic, Personality, Skill, Interest and Work Value.
- Holistic Assessments
Holistic, or comprehensive, assessments put together your results from many different types of assessments and provide you with possible career choices based on those results. They consider your education, work experience, ideal work environment, interests and personality. By combining the results of several assessments, the holistic approach builds a model around who you are as a whole person, not just one aspect of who you are.
Sokanu: Access this free, comprehensive assessment.
- Personality Assessments
Personality assessments help you discover the types of careers that suit your personality. They can also show you the skills or traits that make you a strong candidate for a job and what to highlight on your resume and in your cover letter and interviews.
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a thorough personality assessment which categorizes you into one of 16 personality types, based on four different dimensions: Extrovert-Introvert (how you interact with people), Intuitive-Sensing (how you perceive the world), Thinking-Feeling (how you make decisions), and Judging-Prospecting/Perceiving (your relationship to time). These personality types are not binary, either-or characteristics; the goal is to indicate your tendencies on a continuum.
A free, shorter version of the MBTI is available at 16 Personalities. Once you gain a clearer indication of your personality type, you can look for information on careers that suit your personality at www.truity.com. If you score close to 50% on more than two dimensions, your results may not be completely accurate. Also keep in mind that your personality can change over time.
The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is very similar to the MBTI in that it categorizes people into 16 different personality types. A free, paper version of this test is available at the Career Center. Call (925) 560-9431 for more information. There is also a free online version, but it only sorts you into one of 4 temperaments.
- Work Value
The best career choices also take your values into consideration. Values are your beliefs about what is important or desirable. Working at a job that contradicts who you are as a person will only leave you frustrated and discouraged. A work values assessment considers what is most important to you in a job in various categories: achievement, recognition, stability, leadership, and independence.
Work Importance Profiler is a free, 21-question assessment.
Work Importance Locator: O*NET has a paper/pencil version and online version of their assessment.
- Skill Assessments
You develop skills through training and experience. Your skills describe what you are good at doing, and how you might perform on a job in the future. Skills come in the form of hard, or technical, and soft skills. Both are critical to your success. Skills assessments are useful, especially if you want to see how your skills in one industry would transfer into another industry.
Skills Matcher: This free assessment focuses on your skill level in different areas.
Skills Profiler: This free assessment, similar to the Skills Matcher, asks slightly different questions.
- Interest Assessments (based on Holland Codes)
Interest assessments allow you to see how your interests can be pursued in the work world. These assessments are based on the Holland Codes: Social, Artistic, Investigative, Realistic, Conventional and Enterprising. You will discover your top three Holland Codes and which careers fit them.
Interest Profiler: A free assessment available in a 30-question, 60-question or 180-question format.
Holland Code Quiz from Rogue Community College: You can learn more about the Holland Codes and take a quiz that asks you about both your interests and your personality.
Strong Interest Inventory (SII): This assessment provides another opportunity to have insight on your work personality by exploring the six broad areas. The full assessment requires a career specialist to administer it. The Career Center offers a free, paper version; ask a career counselor to give it to you.
Quick Assessment: If you think that you are very self-aware, you can choose a quicker version of the Holland Code assessment.
Career assessments do not determine your fate, but they can help guide you toward choosing a career path that best suits you as an individual. The outcomes of these assessments can be quite illuminating and are designed to help move you forward with more clarity and insight about yourself and the type of career that can best express who you are.
Assessments can help you choose a good career fit (Career Onestop)
What Are Career Assessments? (Mindler)