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What Is a Career Test and How Can It Shape Your Future?

Planning for the future requires courage, imagination, and information, but it's one of the most important things you can do. Find out how a career test can be your greatest tool for shaping your life.
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Take a moment to think about your career. Is it what you imagined when you first stepped into the professional world? Are you in the field you expected, or has life nudged you down a different career path so gradually that you barely noticed it was happening? Perhaps it wasn't a nudge at all, but more the sudden shove of a layoff or other life-changing event.

Maybe, instead, you're a teen or college student who's yet to take those first steps, and you're currently facing questions about who you are and what career choices are right for you. How do you separate what you want from the pressure from parents, peers, and society to dictate what you should want? It's your life, after all, so shouldn't you be the one to shape it?

These are hard questions but ones worth taking the time to consider. Left unanswered, they often become more and more difficult over time until, eventually, you're forced to choose between worse options than if you had confronted them right away. This might be part of the reason why more than 60% of global workers say they feel "emotionally detached" in their careers and why metrics for job unhappiness are skyrocketing.

Finding an answer, however, takes more than quiet quitting or a good side hustle: it takes perspective. Few tools match the benefits of a good career assessment in helping you gain that perspective. Designed specifically to help individuals like you improve self-awareness and professional development, these tests are the perfect way to start building the future you want.

But what is a career test, and how can you know which test to trust with something so important? In this article, we'll give you a complete rundown of modern career assessment tests, what to look out for, and how to maximize their ability to shape your career.

The Different Types of Career Tests

In years past, career assessments were broken out into specific categories to achieve different goals. Some, like those designed by psychologists, measured personal qualities like openness or agreeableness to better understand a person's behaviors. Others, such as those developed during World War I, looked to match recruits to different roles and responsibilities.

Today, most testing services combine aspects from several such tests to provide a more well-rounded analysis. Nonetheless, it's still important to know each major type of test, the process it uses, and how it might benefit your career development.

Personality Tests

For the average person, a personality test is, by far, the most familiar type of career test on the market. Often, these tests closely resemble those you might take for entertainment. The best personality tests, however, improve on the normal offerings by adjusting questions and feedback to supply career possibilities depending on your personality traits.

While different career tests use different personality profiling methods, they typically pull from one of the three most trusted by modern psychologists. These are:

The DISC Assessment

Devised in 1928 by William Marston, the DISC assessment was initially intended as a direct counter to more subjective psychological evaluations. To achieve this status, the test prioritizes a person's actions rather than their thoughts or feelings and aims to provide an objective, observable basis for its analysis.

Today, many people who doubt or distrust other types of psychological testing often opt for the DISC evaluation method, both for its objectivity and the clear, visual way it presents results.

The Big Five Model

The Big Five Model of Personality is perhaps the most popular personality test among companies and other large organizations due to its ability to gauge how well a person might fit both in a role and a company's culture. Consequently, many recruiters and HR departments use the Big Five during the hiring process.

As the name might suggest, this test evaluates users in five distinct areas: openness, agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Each of these, in turn, relates to more familiar personality traits such as eagerness, kindness, talkativeness, responsibility, and anxiousness, respectively.

The Holland Codes

Unlike the other two personality tests on this list, the Holland Codes primarily concern themselves with a person's interests, both in their personal life and their work environments. Once an individual has finished answering questions, these codes sort them into one of six "work personalities," which are:

  1. Realistic
  2. Investigative
  3. Artistic
  4. Social
  5. Enterprising
  6. Conventional

In addition to sorting people into these groups, the Holland Codes also assign values to different careers in the same way. In doing so, people can compare their results to those of different jobs to easily determine whether they might be a good fit for a given role.

Career Aptitude Tests

Often, people encounter their first career aptitude test while still in high school, generally during their junior or senior years. Rather than focusing on your personality, this type of test attempts to gauge the roles or fields in which you would naturally excel.

Unlike personality tests, which are almost always rooted in psychological research, many organizations opt to design their own aptitude assessments. While this means competition-driven improvement in the quality of these tests, it also means that you should be extra careful when choosing a career aptitude test to trust.

Specifically, consider avoiding tests that use preset lists of careers or questions. Instead, try to find a service like JobTest.org that pulls from internet-wide job data in real-time to provide career matches.

Skills Tests

Sometimes confused with aptitude tests, skills tests evaluate a person's existing skills and strengths to determine their readiness to take on specific jobs and roles. Because of this immediate, objective style of assessment, skills tests are often used by career coaches, career counselors, and military administration to match people to jobs right away.

Even so, skills tests also have more long-term benefits when used correctly. JobTest.org's process, for instance, incorporates elements of a skills test to determine a clear-cut list of strengths and weaknesses. That way, customers can use our advice and resources to work on building new skills and, in turn, maximize their chances of success when applying for new jobs.

Traditional vs. Adaptive Career Assessments

For us, the biggest development in the career testing industry involves the debate between traditional and adaptive career assessments. While JobTest.org is one of the earliest adopters of adaptive technology, many companies have begun to recognize its value and adjust their services accordingly.

Traditional Career Tests

We wouldn't be where we are today without the foundation laid by traditional career tests. Over the past century, psychologists and business leaders have worked to develop, refine, and utilize different job tests to help put people to work in jobs they love.

Despite this admirable history, traditional career tests are limited by their dependence on pre-fabricated questions and career options. This means that no matter how well you answer, your results will never be as accurate or personalized as they might be with a modern test.

Adaptive Career Tests

Adaptive testing technology is still relatively rare in the career test industry, though customers and providers alike are beginning to realize the awesome potential it offers. Unlike traditional testing, an adaptive test like the one used by JobTest.org adjusts its questions with every answer you give.

By doing so, this technology helps trim the questions less relevant to your circumstances and truly hone in on the information that matters most. Beyond the questions, though, an adaptive test also tailors its results to the user by showing them the insights they need most.

What to Expect From Your Career Test

Whether you choose JobTest.org or some other service, it's essential to understand the features and benefits you should expect from a career assessment. While few companies will offer all of these features, you should decide which benefits you need most and seek the company with services to match.

In our experience, the qualities most important for turning career test results into actual results are the following:

A User-Friendly Experience

Comfort is key when taking any test, so it only makes sense that any career assessment you choose should be delivered in a clear, approachable way. While this primarily refers to things like how well the website is built and how easy it is to make an account, it also means that a career test should use the right language and structure when asking its questions.

Lastly, the user experience doesn't end after the last question has been answered. Instead, any career assessment worth the investment should do its best to structure results in a way most conducive to understanding.

Modern Technology

We've already gone over the differences between traditional and adaptive career assessments. Still, recent developments in advanced machine learning and AI should also factor into building a good career test.

JobTest.org, for instance, constantly updates and refines its matching algorithm in the pursuit of increasingly personalized results. This means that with every new development in AI, our test grows and evolves to meet the cutting-edge standards of modern technology.

Additionally, the use of machine learning vastly expands the quality and quantity of available data when compiling matches. Instead of pulling from limited, pre-existing lists of jobs, our process mines to-the-minute data with every test completed.

Post-Assessment Support

Far too often, we see companies provide an excellent, streamlined testing experience only to come up short on the service that matters most: post-assessment support. From what we can tell, this is because traditional career testing companies view their purpose as simply providing information—and, for some, that may be enough.

JobTest.org, however, knows that people come to us for help taking action and that information is just one step in that process. The second, equally important step, of course, is providing real, actionable advice and resources to help you turn information into progress. Sometimes, this means a career coaching session or insights into degrees or certifications to prepare you for a new role. Other times, information about how to work on personal qualities can have a profound effect on career satisfaction.

Regardless of what it looks like, any career test worth your time and money should always provide more than a simple series of questions. Remember that the goal is real-world results, not just test results.

Research-Backed Psychology

When it comes to career tests, there are many ways to approach building your experience. For companies that want to focus on behavior and action, the DISC might be a good foundation. Others who prefer an interest-focused approach may use the Holland Codes while designing their test. At JobTest.org, we use key elements of several credible psychological assessments to provide more comprehensive results.

And, while we won't go so far as to claim one psychological premise is better than another, we do believe it essential that any career test uses solid, research-backed psychology. Not only does using less-than-trustworthy research mean confusing, useless results, but it may actually harm a customer's chance of achieving career growth.

How JobTest.org Goes Further

Believe it or not, JobTest.org was founded by people in positions just like you: wondering if they'd chosen their career or had life choose for them, toiling away in positions that didn't fill them with satisfaction or joy, or going under-appreciated despite hard work.

Once we discovered how liberating and empowering it could be to take hold of our futures, we quickly set ourselves to the task of helping others do the same. Thus, JobTest.org was born.

And although our algorithm and services have come a long way since that first day, we still carry that basic philosophy with us in every step we take as a company. When you take our career test, you can rest assured that we do everything in our power to help you succeed. From real-time data gathering to a testing process that evolves with every answer you give, we're not satisfied until you have the tools you need to start shaping your future into something you want.

If you're ready to regain control of your career, consider using twenty minutes to take our career assessment. By the time you're done, we're confident you'll come out clearer, stronger, and more determined to start making moves.

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