How To Use Self-Assessment Tools To Choose a Career

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 13, 2020

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Not sure what to do with your life. Feeling down and lacking purpose. These are common feelings, and not just for young people. Finding a fulfilling career is difficult and can take hard work, but it’s so worth it.

How do you go from feeling lost in a sea of careers to landing your dream job and being the captain of your future? It could be that you just need to use a self-assessment tool.

What is Self Assessment?

A self-assessment tool is actually a series of tools and tests, a toolkit if you will. This toolkit can help you dive deeper into your personality to see what most interests you and what your skills are. These tools thoroughly evaluate your values, interests, personality, and aptitude (the things you’re good at). The best part is these “tests” aren’t graded. They’re just a way to collect information and organize it.

Companies often use these tools to discover if they have the right candidates for their open positions. They might use them to learn more about the employees they already have. And they might use them to help determine who gets a promotion or who should be placed in a different role within the company.

Just because companies use them, it doesn’t mean that an individual can’t. In fact, using them for yourself can be incredibly illuminating.

Why You Should Do a Formal Self-Assessment

Many people choose to have a career advisement professional or even a school guidance counselor help with completing the assessment, but it’s not necessary. You can do one all on your own.

The overarching reason for self-assessment is to learn more about yourself. Sometimes it takes a different perspective to provide insight into your dreams, goals, motives, and desires. But that’s not the only reason to do a self-assessment. The following are great reasons to learn more about you.

  • Confidence. You may think you’re good at something, but it solidifies your belief in yourself when you have outside confirmation.

  • Weaknesses. You might have an idea of your weaknesses, but maybe you don’t. Seeing it in an assessment lets you know where you need work.

  • Strengths. A self-assessment points out your strengths, which can help guide you into a field you enjoy.

  • Education and occupation. Let’s not omit the importance of education here. Doing these tests can help you decide where you want to go to school, what you want to study, and additional courses that can help your career. They can do this just as well as they can point you toward a great career.

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  • Sell yourself. Knowing all of this information about you helps you create your own brand. You can market yourself to future employers by honestly telling them about your personality, work habits, and strengths. It’s also incredibly useful for self-employed people who are continually marketing their talents.

  • Better acceptance. When you see your characteristics and traits broken down, it’s easier to understand yourself. The inner workings of your decisions, competence, and beliefs are fundamental to who you and why you’re that way.

What Does a Self-Assessment Tool Measure?

There are a few different tests, and each one measures a specific trait or part of what makes you who you are. To get the best results, try taking various tests, and pulling the data together. This gives you a much more well-rounded vision of yourself. And more data always provides more insight.

The data you’ll find in a self-assessment form is typically meant to look at how you function in the workplace. It’s best to funnel your discoveries into your professional life, but there can be some key takeaways that apply to your personal life as well. You can see that the following measurement zones are applicable across your entire personality.

  • Values. While it might not seem like your personal values belong in the workplace, they can play a significant role in your position and how you do it, and what career is right for you. If you value time with your family, then working overtime and weekends to get a promotion will be problematic for you. On the other end of the spectrum, if financial security and having a powerful professional position are important, long hours are part of the big picture.

  • Interests. It’s interesting, but research by Edward Kellogg Strong, Jr. found that the nature of interests can predict your career aptitude or what career field would be most appealing. The Strong Interest Inventory is based on these findings, but there are various interest evaluations available today that can help you point out your interests and how they can apply to different professions.

  • Personality type. This sort of assessment is probably the most popular, and some people enjoy taking these just for fun. Much of the science in this area was done by Carl Jung, who developed the theory of personality still used today. To come up with your personality type, you need to evaluate your social traits, motivational drivers, needs, and attitudes.

  • Aptitude. Your aptitude means the things you’re naturally good at doing. It’s your innate talent. By the time you get around to taking a self-assessment test, most people have an idea of their talents. You know you’re good at math and not so good at the arts. Or maybe you’re good at both of those things. Having aptitudes in multiple areas is very common. Most aptitude tests can narrow down your skills even more and provide layers of information.

One key thing to note when you get any results back is that they can tell you about part of your personality and hint at some potential career pathways. But the tests don’t give you the whole picture when taken individually.

For example, if the aptitude test pointed out that you are great at math and art, you might find that being a set designer for the theatre is a good career choice. But when you look at your values, you see you’re financially driven. This probably means that being a set designer is not for you. You’d be happier as an accountant for celebrities.

You have to remember to consider the things that matter most to you and weigh them. You don’t have to give up on some things you like, but they might be better hobbies than careers.

Types of Self-Assessment Tools Available

There are a wide variety of physical and online self-assessment tools on the market. Some are free; others charge a fee. Some are very well-known and respected, and others are merely quizzes for entertainment. The following are some well-respected tools if you’re interested in useful data.

  • Myers Briggs Indicator. Probably one of the best known and more popular personality tests on the market. The work of Carl Jung forms the basis of this test and uses type theory to create a personality type. There are 16 different types in all, based on your answers to questions surrounding the topics of favorite world, information, decisions, and structure. This work is ongoing, so there are continual developments.

  • Strong Interest Inventory. Taking your interests and comparing them to successful people in different fields, this test gives you a better idea of what you might enjoy as a profession. There are four categories it will analyze: general occupation themes, basic interests, occupations, and personal style. You can find this test administered by a variety of different organizations.

  • Career Beliefs Inventory. This test is interesting because it looks at your beliefs, and then it looks at some scales to see if something is holding back your career progress. It offers great insight for people who are currently employed but feel like they’re not doing all they could be.

  • Kiersey Temperament Sorter. This is a free test, and it can be a great starting point for your journey of self-assessment. Are you the artisan, guardian, idealist, or rational personality type? Some people like that this test is more of a personality test. It not only helps you learn more about your motivations, but it can help you classify others and gives you a more in-depth insight into their personalities.

  • Values Assessment. What do you need to feel satisfied with your job? What’s most important to you? This test can help you determine what your professional values are. It then gives you suggestions on how to pair your values with different career paths.

How a Self-Assessment Can Help You

Again, self-assessment tools are designed to give you deeper insight into who you are, how you think, and the things you enjoy and value most. Your assessment results can be the first step in an all-important journey of self-discovery.

People who are serious about learning more about themselves can use these tests to determine what would make them feel more satisfied and fulfilled. Along with the deeper understanding it inspires, that knowledge can help you find a rewarding career path.

It’s important to understand that taking one or many of these assessments will not give you a definitive answer on what career path to follow. They’re useful, they can help you tremendously, but it’s not an exact science. Personality is a tricky thing, and it’s unique for everyone. While some trends, generalizations, and data can be used to provide insight, there are no specific answers.

One thing you might find interesting is doing regular self-assessment updates. Take one in high school, one in college, one after two years in your first job, etc. You’ll see that some of your answers and beliefs may have changed. This might mean you’re adapting and fitting your professional role better. It could also mean you have outgrown your job, and it’s time for a new one. It’s nice to stay in touch with what matters to you by using tools like self-assessments.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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