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How to Interpret Career Test Results

This article covers how to interpret different career test results to supercharge your career growth.
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Introduction

Career tests are great tools for people who feel lost and stuck in their careers and want to compare different career paths against their personality traits, interests, skills, values, and other criteria. 

However, interpreting career test results can be challenging as they sometimes run dozens of pages in length, with in-depth explanations that may not be applicable or easy to understand. 

This article offers practical tips for understanding and analyzing career test results, integrating them with other decision-making tools, and leveraging career tests when seeking professional advice.

Basics of Interpreting Test Results

As the first step, let's go over the basics of interpreting career test results. Different career tests offer various formats and content in their results, but the majority of them provide results with scores, profiles, and/or categories. 

Here are some key elements to understand:

Scores and Percentiles

Many tests provide numerical scores and/or corresponding percentiles that indicate how you compare to a reference group. 

For example, if you scored in the 70th percentile for a particular trait (extrovertedness, income, compatibility, etc.), it means you scored higher than 70% of the people in the reference group (age, gender, etc.).

Profiles

Some tests generate a profile based on your responses, which may include:

  • Demographic information: name, email, gender, education, socioeconomic background
  • Personality traits: extroverted, introverted, analytical, emotional index, etc.
  • Other career-relevant factors: current salary, desired salary, etc.

Some of the best tests offer dedicated profile pages detailing your traits and insights, which can be useful for career exploration.

Categories and Career Matches

Some tests, like the Holland Code (RIASEC), categorize you into specific interest areas and suggest career paths that best align with those areas. 

Some other tests utilize a newer CAPBOI personality indicator, which has been gaining popularity among teens and young adults for its comprehensive insights into your career compatibility across various opportunities.

Integrating Results with Self-Reflection

Career test results are a great first step in understanding your career potential, but they are effective only if followed by actionable next steps. 

The following are some of the most common next steps for those who recently completed the career test:

Reflect on Your Results

Take your time to reflect on your test results and think about how they align with your own perception of your strengths, interests, and values. 

Many career tests provide supplementary information detailing how each area of the results was measured and calculated and how to leverage it to achieve career success, which could be valuable resources.

Identify Patterns

If you have taken more than one career test, looking for patterns and consistencies across them is important. If multiple tests indicate that you have strong communication skills, this could be a reliable indicator of your capabilities. However, it’s essential to consider how these skills were evaluated. 

Many career tests adopt self-reporting questionnaires to measure your strengths and weaknesses, which could be biased and flawed compared to objective skill assessments that some other tests offer

Consider Context

Think about the context in which you took the test. Consider how your circumstances may have influenced your responses. 

Common factors that affect the responses include but are not limited to: 

  • Your current job
  • Life situations
  • Recent experiences
  • Even the time of the day you took the test

While some may be more obvious than others, all of these factors have been known to influence your results. 

Seeking Professional Advice

Many people find working with an expert to be a valuable experience when interpreting their career test results. Getting professional advice from experts could help you formulate a structured step-by-step action plan to achieve your career goals and hold you accountable. 

Some example resources include:

Career Counselors

Career counselors are trained to administer and interpret various career assessments. They can help you:

  • Understand and analyze your results
  • Identify potential career paths that are suitable for you
  • Develop an action plan together

Many universities, local organizations, and various online resources offer career counseling services.

Career Coaches

Unlike career counselors, who work primarily with students, career coaches work with working professionals and provide personalized guidance to help achieve your professional goals. Like career counselors, they can help you leverage test insights to make informed career decisions, overcome challenges, and develop marketable skills that are needed in the career you pursue. 

Career coaches also tend to specialize in specific industries or career stages. You can find one here.

Educational and Government Resources

Many educational institutions have career services departments that offer assessments and interpretation support. Many universities also have career planning resources for students and alums that are often free of charge. 

Local city and state government agencies sometimes offer free career development programs and services for residents, so if you are on a budget, these are great resources to tap into.

Conclusion

Understanding and interpreting career test results are important first steps for effective career planning. By understanding the basics of the results, combining them with self-reflection, and exploring expert guidance as needed, you can make an informed decision that aligns best with your unique strengths/weaknesses, interests, personality traits, and values that make you who you are. 

Remember, career tests are just one tool in your career planning toolkit. Use them wisely in conjunction with other resources and strategies to build a roadmap to a fulfilling career.

References

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