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How to Choose the Right Career Test

This article aims to guide readers through the process of choosing the right career test that fits them, what criteria to look for, and how to evaluate one career test from another.
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Introduction

Many students and young professionals take career tests to navigate their career paths and gain clarity around their goals and missions. While the right career test can be a valuable tool that could save years of trial and error, the wrong career test could derail people from their intended career path, sending them in the wrong direction that could be hard to come back from. 

This article aims to guide readers through choosing the right career test that fits them, what criteria to look for, and how to evaluate one career test from another.

Why Is Choosing the Right Career Test Important?

The right career test is more than a simple personality test that people take when they are young. Far too many career tests today are based solely on personality and do not deliver on their premise of providing the test-taker with personal and professional development guidance by offering a comprehensive understanding of suitable career options. 

Studies show that identifying the right attributes, such as personality traits, skills, and values, can lead to higher job satisfaction and career success. The right career test can do this resource-efficiently, granted that it does it right.

How to Find the Best Career Test and Key Criteria to Consider

There are hundreds of career tests online, both free and paid, but not all tests are created equal. Different career tests adopt different underlying principles and thus have their respective strengths and weaknesses. 

There are several third-party reviewers and various Reddit threads that readers can browse through, but the following criteria are usually deemed most important by experts:

1. Reliability

One of the most prominent ways to measure a test's accuracy is by testing its reliability: "Does the test provide the same consistent results over time?" 

Many career tests today heavily rely on personality traits, which are known to be influenced by surrounding environments (where you are working, what you are working on, who you have been spending time with, etc.) at the time you answer the questions and often end up recommending different careers that are volatile based on the user's input. 

Highly reliable tests ensure that the test comes with a certain threshold and validity criteria to ensure the same results are provided under consistent conditions. If the test provides its reliability coefficient, look for ones with more than 0.7.

2. Validity

Another important criterion to consider is the validity of the test. A given test can make different claims about their test results, and sometimes, false claims are also easily found in today's world. 

There are different types of validity, including but not limited to:

  • Content validity: Does the test cover all relevant aspects of the claimed content?
  • Construct validity: Does the test measure the theoretical construct it claimed?
  • Criterion-related validity: Does the test measure and predict outcomes as it claimed?

Some examples of these validities are:

Check the validation studies and expert reviews to confirm the test's validity.

3. Relevance

Just like you can't be a fisherman in a desert or a camel farmer on an island surrounded by seas, finding a relevant career test that fits your needs and circumstances is crucial in finding the best career test. 

Relevance ensures that the career test aligns with your specific situation, such as your career stage, industry of interest, and personal goals. 

For example, a career test designed for high school students may not be suitable for mid-career professionals looking to change industries. 

To assess relevance, consider the following:

Target Audience

Ensure the test is designed for your demographic. If you are a college student, look for tests tailored for educational and early career planning. If you are a working professional, seek tests that address career advancement or transition.

Industry Focus

Some industry-specific career tests provide insights relevant to fields such as technology, healthcare, or creative arts. Choose a test that offers relevant information pertinent to your desired industry.

Career Goals

Reflect on your career objectives and see if the test aligns with them. Whether you are exploring different career paths, confirming your current career trajectory, or identifying skill gaps, the test should cater to your specific needs and goals.

By considering these criteria—reliability, validity, and relevance—you can better choose the right career test that will provide the most accurate and valuable insights for your career journey.

Other Factors to Consider

Once you have identified a set of career tests that check all or some of the above criteria, ranking them based on additional factors unique to your needs and circumstances is essential. 

Some example factors to consider include:

Purpose

Different career tests serve different purposes. Some are designed to help individuals choose a major, while others are meant to assist in career transitions or professional development. Be clear about what you hope to achieve with the test, and select the one that aligns with your goals.

Target Audience

Career tests are often tailored to specific demographics, such as students, recent graduates, or experienced professionals. To get the most relevant and useful insights, make sure the test you choose is appropriate for your career stage and background.

Cost and Accessibility

Both free and paid tests are available, and depending on the depth of the test result, they can vary in price. For example, some career tests come with an hour of career coaching, during which an expert coach will walk you through the results and provide you with actionable next steps—which would be a great way for people who are considering a career transition into a wholly different industry/field. 

It's important to remember that some tests are incentivized by alternative motivations, such as recommending you pursue an additional college degree at a for-profit university, so you need to vet them and understand who is behind the offered career test.

Comparison of Popular Career Tests

There are different types of career tests available, but the following are some of the most popular categories. 

While a more comprehensive test can encompass all of the following in a single test if you have a specific career test in mind that interests you, the following list should give you a good sense of what's available and their pros and cons.

Personality-Based Tests

Personality-based tests assess individual personality traits to suggest applicable career paths. These tests often explore dimensions such as introversion vs. extraversion, thinking vs. feeling, and other personality characteristics.

Skill and Aptitude Tests

Skill and aptitude tests measure specific abilities and aptitudes to determine career suitability. These tests can help identify strengths and weaknesses in areas such as verbal reasoning, numerical ability, and spatial relations.

Interest Inventories

Interest inventories help individuals identify careers that align with their interests. These tests often match personal preferences with potential career fields.

By understanding the differences and unique features of these various career tests, you can choose the one that best fits your needs and circumstances. 

Whether exploring new career options, considering a career change, or looking to understand yourself better, selecting the right career test can provide valuable insights and guidance.

Conclusion

Choosing the right career test is an important step in effective career planning. 

By carefully considering factors and using the guidelines provided in this article, you can make an informed decision about your career and confidently navigate your career journey.

References

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