Why Take Self-Assessment Tests?

Tests are tools, and tools are labor-saving devices, a means to an end. Self-assessment tests, or career instruments, are just some of the means to help you find the career in which you can flourish and succeed. The average person changes careers several times in his or her lifetime. Sometimes you can call the shots and dictate the changes on your own schedule, but other times those changes get made for you by forces outside your control, such as the economy, employers, or unforeseen circumstances. Clarifying your goals, desires, and abilities will make such changes easier to navigate.

Susan was blindsided when her company laid her off in 2002. In retrospect, her employer did her a big favor, releasing her from a technical writing job that bored her and freeing her to spend more time writing fiction. Today, she has a half-dozen published books to her credit, but she realizes that if she'd taken the time to assess her passion and talents years before, she could have begun enjoying that career much earlier.

Make Informed Decisions

Self-assessment can help you clarify what you value in a job and what's important to you in your life and work. It can also indicate abilities and interests you know you have, as well as some that might surprise you. Nearly 400 years ago, British philosopher Francis Bacon wrote, “…knowledge itself is power. The more one knows, the more one will be able to control events.”

Juan had a job in sales for a well-known beverage company. He worked from home and submitted his reports online, so he rarely went to the office or interacted with anyone from the company. He often found it hard to get going in the morning. It wasn't until he took some career assessment tests that he realized he was an extrovert and needed to be energized by other people before he could make sales calls. Once Juan no longer worked from home, he became the top salesman at his new job.

Focus Your Efforts and Resources

You may be thinking that you don't have the time to take ten tests or that they're too much work. In fact, the opposite is true. Taking these tests thoughtfully and honestly will save you time in the long run. It will save you needless effort chasing one possible career path after another or trying out options that really aren't a good fit for you because you have no idea what a good fit for you is. Of course, after you complete your self-assessment you may still want to pursue a career that isn't suggested by your test results, but at least you'll make that decision with more self-awareness and an idea of what you need to do in order to make it work.

Sarah seemed to jump to a new job every year: waiting tables, retail sales, preschool teaching, receptionist. When she finally stopped to assess her skills and abilities, Sarah discovered that she really didn't like working with the public. This revelation led her to find a more appropriate and satisfying job as a bookkeeper.

Focus Your Choices

You know how you feel when confronted with a menu of 200 items in a Chinese restaurant. Your mouth waters as you savor the possibilities, but you have to choose just one. Meanwhile, the waiter is tapping his pencil on his pad. Suddenly, it dawns on you that all of those choices aren't really choices for you. You're allergic to oranges, you hate broccoli, and you gave up noodles for Lent. Let's see, that narrows it down to…152. And the waiter is still tapping his pencil.

Searching for a satisfying career can be a bit like that, though with many more far-reaching consequences. The wrong dinner can make you unhappy — or sick to your stomach — for the evening, but it's not the end of the world. The wrong career can leave you feeling unhappy, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled, feelings that have an insidious way of creeping into the rest of your life. You may never even know why you feel that way.

Carl had worked hard in school and landed a job with a top accounting firm. He kept telling himself how lucky he was, but at the same time, he felt blue and often had a hard time going to work on Monday mornings. After working with a career counselor, he discovered that accounting wasn't a good fit for him. Once he moved to a job in the human resources department, Carl knew he was on the right path.

Increase Your Choices

Once you narrow your scope to the career or careers that are best for you, you may find entire fields you never before considered. You may discover that you have an affinity for negotiating, mechanical drawing, or statistics that until now lay untapped and ignored because of a preconceived notion that you were “supposed” to be doing something completely different with your life.

Some people believe there is only one soul mate out there for them, one perfect, predestined partner, if only they could find him or her. In reality, the opposite is probably true, and once you believe that, your chances of finding one of those many potentially suitable partners increases dramatically. You just need to know who you are and what you're looking for. The same holds true for careers. Based on your interests, abilities, values, and preferences, there are several suitable niches for you, not just one “perfect” career. Remember, too, that you can focus, customize, and personalize any given career. Keep an open mind as you conduct your self-assessment and you will see opportunities as they arise.

Brenda worked as an administrative assistant in a large university hospital that offered its employees a course in self-assessment. She learned that she had a natural inclination toward and interest in the sciences. She decided to go back to school at night and take the necessary courses to become a scientific researcher. Eventually, Brenda was offered a research job in a laboratory that she felt was just the right fit for her.

Provide a Starting Point

People change. Remember that most working Americans will change careers several times. Taking these tests will give you a baseline of your skills, abilities, and values today. No one is saying that these won't change; undoubtedly they will. People burn out, decide they want or need more money, or modify their goals. That's why you should re-evaluate yourself periodically. It would be silly, if not hazardous to your health, to have a physical exam at age twenty and never set foot in a doctor's office again. Nor would you neglect regular tuneups for your car. Finding satisfaction in your life's work is certainly no less important, and figuring out where you are now can help you figure out where you're headed and how to get there.

Marilyn knew she wanted to pursue a career in education, but she'd seen her mother burn out as a classroom teacher. A self-assessment class at her college helped identify Marilyn's leadership and administrative skills, as well as her teaching ability. This information helped her realize that if she tired of classroom teaching, she could go back to school and earn an administrative credential.

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