How Can Testing Aid in Your Career Development

How many of us have felt lost or stagnate in our career direction? Whether you are just starting out and looking for some career guidance or well into your career and looking for more satisfaction, the use of career and personality assessments can be a valuable tool. Although these tests are not intended to be used alone in making career decisions, they can be essential when coupled with guidance from a career counselor or coach.

There are various types of career and personality assessments however, for the sake of this article I will focus on two major personality/career assessments: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII).

The MBTI is the mostly wide used personality assessment that provides an accurate picture of an individual’s personality type. This assessment brings insight into how we interact with the world, gather information, make decisions and if we prefer to live in a more structured way or spontaneous way. The MBTI produces a four letter code that represents your best-fit personality type. If used properly this assessment can be a powerful tool in making career decisions.

The Strong Interest Inventory is a tool that millions of people have used for guidance in exploring careers and college majors. Research suggests that people tend to be happier and more productive in careers that align with their interests. This instrument measures your interests to help identify optimum career choices and increase your life/career satisfaction.

What Can Testing Do For You? 
The power of personality and career assessments such as the MBTI and SII can make a major impact on your career and individual development. Below is a list of uses that these assessments can provide:

o Career change
o Choose a career
o Explore the world of work
o Increase self awareness and job satisfaction
o Understand different learning styles
o Improve individual or team performance
o Boost self esteem
o Increase conflict management skills
o Identify college majors and choose appropriate education/training
o Better work-life balance
o Reduce stress

How to Use Career Assessments?
Whether you take the MBTI or Strong Assessment it is vital to use these results in conjunction with a career coach or counselor. A personality/career test alone cannot give you the proper guidance to make career or life decisions. Also keep in mind that no single test can tell you what you should do or should be.

When using the MBTI and learning about your “type” you can understand yourself better and value other people who act and think differently from you. When you understand yourself better you can deepen your knowledge of the type of work that is best suited for you. Learning about what is stressful or uninteresting in a work environment will bring more insight into your work preferences. Understanding your type can make you more aware of work activities that are satisfying and also help pinpoint specific sources of dissatisfaction.

The MBTI can also help you understand others better which can lead to enhanced relationships and collaborative environments. In the workplace, understanding your type as well as others can help improve overall team performance and make your interactions more effective with people of other types.

Once you learn about your MBTI type you can then start to research various career options that are most satisfying for you. After gathering this information you can then make a more informed decision based on your personality type and take the necessary steps to achieve your goals.

Strong Inventory 
The Strong interest inventory measures your interests in a broad range of occupations, work and leisure activities and school subjects. You can use this tool to help identify careers related to your interests and choose education or training options that best match your interests. The SII can help improve your career direction by providing more insight into your leadership, risk-taking, learning, working and teamwork preferences.

Based on your responses the SII generates a three letter code that takes into consideration your interests, work activities, potential skills and personal values. You will also receive scores on 25 basic interest scales, 211 occupation scales, 4 personal style scales and 3 administrative scales.

Once you receive your scores from the SII you can then explore careers in areas of your interests. This inventory will not only reflect your interest in specific job activities but leisure interests will also be outlined. This can be helpful in finding work that is satisfying but also identifying hobbies or activities outside of work that can bring about much satisfaction. The Strong can help find your dream job and achieve overall satisfaction in your life.

Keep in Mind
As you consider various career and personality tests please bear in mind that most tests only measure your interests not skills or abilities. You must also consider your mood and environment when taking these assessments. If you are under a lot of stress, results may vary and will require the help of an expert in interpreting these results.

As you strive for growth and balance throughout your life span, these tests can be useful for understanding various lifestyle options and identifying potential blind spots. It can help us discover what motivates and energizes us which can help seek out the “right” work environments.