In the field of career development, career assessments are used to help clients learn more about their interests, values, and skills. Not all assessments are created equal however. Certain assessments work better in some circumstances than others. In my training as a Career Counsellor, I have learned a variety of formal and informal assessments to help my clients understand themselves better in relation to their potential career choices.
WHY YOUR STRENGTHS MATTER
Instead of giving you an endless list of career assessments to try on your own, I am sharing some assessments that I believe are the most simple and effective in helping you learn more about your unique strengths and natural talents. Research at Gallup has shown that having the opportunity to develop your strengths is important to your success at work, because when you are not able to use your strengths at work, chances are that you might:
- Dread going to work;
- Have more negative than positive interactions with your colleagues;
- Treat your customers poorly;
- Tell your friends what a miserable company you work for;
- Achieve less on a daily basis;
- Have fewer positive and creative moments.
This is why I focus so much on my clients’ strengths when I meet with them. When you are able to utilize your natural talents and strengths in a productive and meaningful way, you are likely going to be happier in your work.
USE CAREER ASSESSMENTS AS A STARTING POINT
Keep in mind that career assessments are tools to help you understand yourself better. The assessment results are likely not going to give you all the answers. Human beings are more complex than that. I help my clients interpret their results and dive deep to determine potential career path options. That being said, these assessment tools are a great starting point. If you would like to go further and gain real clarity, I highly recommend speaking with a career professional.
RECOMMENDED CAREER ASSESSMENT TOOLS
Here are my top 3 recommendations for assessment tools to help you reflect on your strengths. Two are free and one is a paid. As a bonus, I also share the tool I use for my clients – it is a paid assessment tool that is included in my career exploration packages.
MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR (MBTI)
Myers-Briggs is the most popular personality assessment out there, used by organizations for leadership and team building, in addition to career development. Chances are that you have tried it before. It is simple and insightful, and it does not take a long time to complete.
There are four categories: Extraversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving. Each person has one preferred quality from each category which as a result produces 16 unique personality types. One score is not better than another (all types have their pros and cons) and in reality, you will use both qualities but one preference is more natural to you. For example, everyone spends some time extraverting and some time introverting, though it may not be equal. Here are the four categories in more detail.
Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
The first letter in your score represents how you interact with your surroundings. Where do you put your attention and get your energy? People who lean towards extraversion like to spend time in the outer world of people and things. People who lean towards introversion prefer to spend time in their inner world of ideas and images.
Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N)
The next category is about how you take in information. Do you pay more attention to information that comes in through your five senses (Sensing), or do you pay more attention to the patterns and possibilities that you see in the information you receive (Intuition)?
Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
The third category describes how you like to make decisions. People who have a preference towards Thinking put more weight on objective principles and impersonal facts. People who have a preference towards Feeling put more weight on personal concerns and the people involved. It is important to note that Feeling does not mean emotional, as every person can have emotions about decisions they make.
Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)
The final category is about how you interact with the world outside yourself. Do you prefer a more structured lifestyle (Judging) or a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)?
Take the MBTI assessment: You can take the official MBTI assessment here and it costs $49.95 USD. However, I feel like the free version at 16 Personalities is fairly accurate and you can take the assessment here.
Crossroads Tip: Take the assessment and read your results. A week or two later, take the assessment again and see if you get the same results. As normal human beings, we are affected by the things that happen in our day and it affects our ability to self-assess. This way, by taking the assessment twice, you can have a look at your results and see if they are consistent or if you get a new result, see which result resonates more with you.
JOHN HOLLAND CODE (RIASEC)
The John Holland Code is another personality test and it focuses on career and vocational choice. It groups people on the basis of their suitability for six different categories of occupations. You get assigned a three-letter code that suggests the types of jobs that might suit your interests and talents. When you take the assessment, do not worry about whether you have the skills or training to do an activity, just think about whether you would enjoy doing it or not.
Realistic (Doers) types enjoy work activities that include practical hands-on problems and solutions.
Investigative (Thinkers) types enjoy working with ideas, facts, and figuring out problems mentally.
Artistic (Creators) types enjoy working with forms, designs and patterns. They prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.
Social (Helpers) types enjoy working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They like to be of service to others.
Enterprising (Persuaders) types enjoy occupations that involve leading people and making decisions.
Conventional (Organizers) types enjoy working with data and details more than with ideas. They like having set procedures and routines.
Take the Holland Code assessment: This website lets you take the assessment for free here.
Crossroads Tip: The Holland Code was developed in the 1970s and is not up-to-date with all the latest career titles, especially in the high technology sector. You may need to extrapolate some of the meaning or check in with a Career Counsellor to interpret the results. You can also switch the letters of your code around to find other potential careers (like SEA to SAE).
CLIFTONSTRENGTHS (formerly known as StrengthsFinders)
This CliftonStrengths assessment helps you to uncover and develop your natural talents. In addition to being useful for career development, the CliftonStrengths assessment is also great for teams and organizations. By understanding your own strengths and your colleagues’ strengths, there are better opportunities for collaboration and working through challenges at work.
There are 34 strengths and once you complete the assessment, it provides you with your top five talents (the strengths). Your results also comes with suggestions on how to use and develop your talents in your life and work. It is important to invest time into developing your talents and skills so they become reliable strengths, and honestly, it does require practice and hard work. Think about it like this — if you were born with the ability to build large biceps, but you did not exercise these muscles regularly, they will not develop (untapped potential). However, if you work equally as hard as someone without as much natural potential, you are likely to see a much greater return than them. Also, just because you are not naturally talented in something, it does not mean it will never become your strength. It will just take a bit longer to develop.
Take the CliftonStrengths: You can take the Top 5 CliftonStrengths for $19.99 USD or the CliftonStrengths 34 for $49.99 USD here.
Crossroads Tip: If you are a student, some universities and colleges provide a discount code to take the assessment. Check with your career advisor at school if this is an option for you.
AT CROSSROADS, WE USE THE TYPEFOCUS.
You won’t be able to take this assessment without a certified practitioner (like our Career Counsellors at Crossroads) administering it to you. I personally love using the TypeFocus because it has three components covering personality, interests, and values. After you take the TypeFocus assessment, it provides a list of potential careers that match with your assessment results. This is a nice starting point because then we can validate your unique talents and strengths and spend more time on the careers you are interested in exploring further.
Career assessments are a simple and effective way to learn more about ourselves. The three assessments I listed today (MBTI, Holland Code, and CliftonStrengths) are great low-cost tools to start your career exploration journey.