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What Should My Career Be? Step 3: Tests and Assessments

Welcome to Step 3 in my series of posts on answering the question, What Should My Career Be. I’d like to pause for a minute and reflect on the process I have written thus far. One thing I would like to clarify is that although I have written this as a several step process, there is no true formula for finding the best fit career. There isn’t a correct order to do these things. The way I have written this so far is based upon the order of questions most people tend to ask when they find themselves frustrated with their current career. So to date, we have discussed some questions to consider in order to Grow Self Awareness and find What Holds Meaning for You.

The next topic that often comes into minds is to take a slew of personality tests that tell you what your career “should” be. It’s common for us to want to take a test and have its algorithm come up with THE answer for you. It sounds so easy…I answer a few questions, it spits out an answer, and I believe in it like I believe the sun’s going to come up tomorrow. That is where the fallacy lies – in wanting something else to do the work you need to do. However, I do believe that certain tests and self-assessment tools can help you – just not provide the full answer.

So with that preface in mind, let’s talk a little bit about Myers Briggs and What Color is Your Parachute?

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a test that explores 4 different aspects of personality and which way your personality tends to fall for each of the 4 aspects. The 4 aspects are extroversion-introversion, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving. The result is that you are one type out of a possible 16 types. When you take the test, you should also receive percentages as part of the answer. These percentages show how much confidence there is that the answer is your true preference. If the percentage is below 10%, it is a truer possibility that you are both preferences. For more information about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator’s history and functionality, visit CAPT.

I find MBTI to be a very useful tool – not the full answer, but an essential piece of the puzzle. Many people have heard of MBTI and may roll their eyes at its effectiveness. “Oh I took that in college”, “Oh I had to take that at work”. Those same people may not have had help interpreting the results, which is critical to understanding how to use this test. There is quite a bit of depth to the results. The MBTI has been around since WW II and has had results very well documented – there is career data from 100,000+ people who have taken this test. CAPT has done a great job of taking the results and mapping what careers are above average followed by each type. This is useful in not only finding possible occupations you haven’t thought of, but others that resonate with you and your desired lifestyle to call on as mentors. 
The other essential I have come across is What Color Is Your Parachute? This book takes you through a self inventory, some might say exhaustive, of all the possible factors that could influence your career decision making. Even if you decide not to do the full self inventory, you could pick the pieces that you know are most important to you based on the previous posts, and use his self assessment template to detail those areas.

In short, I have found the more knowledge you have about yourself, the more you are able to target your job search, and furthermore, you are able to sound confident when you are trying to get that job. Writing a generic resume that is suitable for a wide range of jobs just doesn’t work. It doesn’t get you the job and it doesn’t make you happy if you happen to land the job. Writing a stellar resume, having the right list of companies, speaking with confidence at the interview, gives you the greatest chances of landing a career you can be satisfied with.

At this stage, if you haven’t already, I would highly recommend having someone help you start managing all these pieces and interpreting tests, etc. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by tangents – having someone help guide you based on all the self-knowledge you’ve collected is invaluable. It’s a small investment in time and money that has unquestionably large rewards.


Coach Challenge: Start mapping the pieces together on a large visual – do your career search and do it big!