Career Assessment Tests and How to Choose a Career: What You Didn’t Expect
You’ve just graduated from high school or are close to it. You’ve done the career assessment tests and counseling. You’ve pondered the career choices that have been deemed best for you. But something doesn’t seem right. However, you didn’t like the fact that no one asked you how you felt about what the career tests or the counselors had to say. It was pretty much a one way street, wasn’t it?
This is the way it’s usually is done and has been done for years. You take a career assessment test and it tells you where you belong. But you know tests. You know that even the questions can be confusing, and when you’re taking them there’s no one there to help you understand exactly what the question is asking so that you can answer it accurately.
And you know that personality tests and career tests are limiting because they often have just a few responses to choose from and you wish there was another one or one that combined two or more of the existing responses.
And there are many examples of the very successful who’ve taken these personality or career tests only to discover that they should be doing something they never desired to do or something that in a few months would drive them to unemployment. There’s one super-successful marketing guru, Dan Kennedy, who was told that according to a particular career interest test he should be a social worker. He responded by saying not only would he be unhappy in this job he didn’t want to go broke. But there are many other examples, such as the famous movie director who was told by a career counselor that he shouldn’t go into directing and do something more “acceptable.” And on and on the stories go.
So who knows what you should do? That’s right, you. It won’t be found in a career assessment test. But you say you don’t know. Well, that’s where the work comes in. Before we go any further, just a warning about getting lazy here or thinking it best to seek someone else’s answers or those given by a test. Consider the following statistic: within five to seven years 70% of college grads are no longer working in a field related to their major. Why specifically? The reasons are many. However, the main cause here, if you think about it logically, is that if the students knew themselves better they’d less likely make a bad choice.
But you say, “Oh, I’m not concerned. At least I’ve gotten an education.” You couldn’t be more wrong. Why waste those four years in college and then another five to ten years doing the wrong thing? That’s upwards of ten to fifteen years! Not only is that a lot of time wasted, but you leave hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table, if not more.
So what needs to be done?
You have to get to know you, all aspects of you. And this all comes before the career test or assessment test, putting you in a place where even before taking a test you’ll know you well enough to know the results. And if there’s not a match, it doesn’t matter. Actually, you’ve got the answers. You don’t need a test. So take the necessary time and explore, do the work, and you’ll score. But specifically, what does that mean?
There are certain areas of life in which we emphasize a certain level of importance. And according to where you are and where you want to be, this will, to a great degree, determine who you are and then where you want to go or end up, specifically here we’re talking career.
For example, some of the areas may be friends and family, health, significant other, fun and recreation, physical environment, career, and money. There are other areas and can be worked out with you and your career coach. This is the first time I’ve used that term, career coach, and we’ll talk more about coaching later, and specifically what it entails and how it’s different from counseling, but back to the issue at hand. Then on a scale of one to ten, you’ll determine your level of satisfaction lies in these various areas of your life, their emphasis, and where you want to improve. This all works outside of what any career test or assessment test can do.
You’ll be amazed by how important these areas of life are. Case in point, one college grad going into a particular field decided to interview those in her neighborhood who had jobs related to her profession of choice. In asking questions about job satisfaction, she discovered something she couldn’t have ever anticipated. She soon discovered that it wasn’t necessarily the job that mattered the most to her neighbors but family. She discovered time and again that taking into consideration the effect of the job and job moves on spouse and children soon outweighed everything else, a good enough reason alone to take a look at one’s entire life in making career decisions.
Bottom line, you need to get to know yourself first and foremost, but equally important is knowing one’s character, weaknesses, and even shortcomings. For example, you can get a great degree with great grades even with a focused perspective based on knowing your key areas of life, but if you procrastinate, lose focus easily, mismanage time, among a host of other issues, no amount of education, talent, or ability can make up for character shortcomings. Character shortcomings can sabotage a career quicker than you can say success. The news is full of the rich and famous who have fallen because of character assassination.
So where does this leave you? With your only alternative: coaching.
As I mentioned above, coaching is not counseling, therapy, nor is it consulting, all which attempt to give you answers. And it is not looking at your past, career aptitude tests, or career counseling. A coach is one who is your equal, one who helps pull from you—the only source for solutions to all your career questions—by working with you only as your guide. One who questions, prods, and pokes you in the direction that YOU desire. The coach, like any athletic coach, is also there to keep you going and to keep you on your path. No one can do it alone, and that is where the coach comes in.
May all your decisions be based in you knowing you as best you can using the best help afforded you, so you can avoid career tests and assessment tests that may give you suggestions that don’t even come close to helping you to see who you are and where you need to be. Here’s to your success in career and all areas of life.