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Seven rules for taking career tests


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Are you dissatisfied with your job? If so, you're not alone. A recent survey conducted by revealed that nearly 75 percent of workers are still in search of their dream jobs.

To help identify jobs that better suit your style and interests, consider taking career and personality tests.

"What Color Is Your Parachute?" author Richard Nelson Bolles maintains a Web site for job seekers, devoting an entire section to career interest and personality tests.

"The key to a happy and fulfilling future is knowing yourself. This self-knowledge is the most important component of finding the right career," Bolles says.

Tests and quizzes can aid in the self-discovery process. Most interactive tests are available online for little or no cost. Community colleges, universities and even states' unemployment departments also can administer tests.

Bolles points out that there are basically two types of tests -- personality ones, which are designed to help you discover the style with which you do any job; and career ones, which direct you toward a list of jobs that match skills and interests.

Many of these tests can be taken in a matter of minutes, and most provide results instantly.

But Bolles cautions, "Many people take career tests with the hope that someone can definitely tell them who they are and what they should do. No test can do that. I recommend that people use the results of their career interest tests to stimulate their own ideas about possible occupations."

Career tests: Several of Bolles' favorite tests are listed and linked on his Web site at Among them is the Princeton Review Career Quiz, a 24-question forced-choice test where you are asked to choose between two statements such as "I usually like to work cautiously," or "I usually like to work fast."

When completed, your results will be described in terms of interests and styles that relate to colors. You also can register to see a list of jobs from the Princeton Review that correlate with your color.

Personality tests: Perhaps the most well-known personality type test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Many companies use this test in assessing management styles, and it's a favorite among career counselors. The Myers-Briggs test is not available online, but many other tests that assess personality types are.

To help job seekers navigate the sometimes-confusing role of career and personality tests, Bolles developed what he calls "The Seven Rules About Taking Career Tests." Here is a brief summary:

  1. There is no test that everyone loves: If you start a test and don't like it or have difficulty selecting answers that fit how you feel or what you think, stop taking it and look for a different test that is better suited to you.
  2. There is no one test that always gives better results than others: Because all tests -- and test takers -- are different, the results will vary. Make sure you are comfortable with the test. How you feel about it will definitely skew your results.
  3. No test should necessarily be assumed to be accurate: On many tests, if you answer even two questions inaccurately, you will get completely wrong results and recommendations.
  4. Take several tests rather than just one: You will get a much better picture of your preferences, profile and good career suggestions from three or more tests.
  5. Always let your intuition be your guide: You know more about yourself than any test does. Trust your intuition. Reject the summary the test gives you if it seems dead wrong. By the same token, if you really like the suggestions, look into them further.
  6. Don't let tests make you forget that you are unique: Because most tests deal in categories, they don't really tell you what's unique about you. If you need help identifying possible career paths that will use your unique desires and abilities, a career counselor may be a better choice for you. True career counseling takes place in face-to-face, person-to-person sessions.
  7. You are never finished with a test until you've done some good hard thinking about yourself: Reading the results isn't enough. You're not done until you've thought hard about yourself and what makes you unique.

"Tests have one great mission and purpose: To give you ideas you hadn't thought of and suggestions worth following up," Bolles says. "But if you ask them to do more than that, you're asking too much."

© Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority
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