Career tests

How to choose a careerHow to choose a career

What are career tests and can they really help you make decisions about your future? Understanding the advantages and limitations of career tests can help you decide if they would help you and how to make the best use of your results.

Most career tests are designed to suggest job options that may suit you based on your answers to a number of questions. For example, the results of a test may suggest you follow a scientific career path, as opposed to a pathway in media.

Career tests can be really useful if you have limited knowledge of the huge range of career paths available, or if you’re really not sure where to start with your job research.

The disadvantage with this sort of test, is that they rarely take into account your ambition or level of qualification and they tend to simplify the job market. Taking our example above of science vs. media, in the real world of work these fields need not be mutually exclusive. If you love science but also love communicating with people, options such as scientific journalism or broadcasting could be great options for you. It’s also not uncommon for students in further education to receive suggestions for jobs that required little in the way of qualifications – in these cases it doesn’t hurt to think a little bigger. Perhaps you are studying for a BSc in Environmental Science and your career test is suggesting you become refuser collector. This isn’t necessarily a bad suggestion, but maybe after learning the ropes you could become a team leader, manager, or maybe even run the company.

Behavioural assessments are another type of test than can help you to explore career options. A behavioural test will focus on your personal preferences about the way you work, rather than the type of work you want to do. The results will give you guidance on the sort of environment where you are likely to feel most comfortable. For someone who loves talking to and working with people, a job that involves working in isolation may not be a good fit. Conversely, if you need peace and quiet to focus, then working in noisy office environment may leave you feeling tired and frustrated.

Behavioural assessments won’t typically tell you which job roles to focus on, but they will give you a good idea of the qualities you should be looking for in a career, whatever your area of interest.

Whatever roles a career test suggests might be a good fit, don’t be afraid to ignore any that don’t feel right, or to be more ambitious than the results suggest. Ultimately, you know yourself better than a test ever will and it will be your hard work and commitment that determines the trajectory of your career.