by Teri Fritsma
Assessments let you rate yourself on different characteristics (your skills, abilities, values, or interests, for example) and then see a list of occupations that could be a good match for you. But did you know that the process of taking an assessment might be just as valuable as the results you get? Read on to learn more about what an assessment can do for you.
1. There is an assessment out there for you.
There are lots of different types of assessments out there; one of them is bound to give you new insights about yourself or your career. Here are just a few: ISEEK’s skills assessment lets you rate your skills—like writing, social skills, or technical skills. O*NET’s ability profiler is a paper and pencil tool that lets you rate yourself on nine different abilities (such as verbal ability and manual dexterity). The MnCareers interest assessment, a paper and pencil tool, is great for career explorers without a lot of work experience who want to see what might be a good match for them (here’s New York’s interest profiler – an online version that’s similar). O*NET’s Work Importance Profiler lets you see which occupations are a good match for the things you value in your job (like autonomy, pay, recognition, and other features). And these are just a few; find more here.
2. This is not a test.
A lot of people think of assessments as some sort of binding evaluation with right and wrong answers. Not true—the only “wrong” answers are the ones that don’t truly reflect you. Not only that, but you can expect your answers to change as you change and your career evolves.
3. Assessments require as little or as much time as you want to spend.
The New York interest profiler takes about one minute to complete. ISEEK’s skills assessment takes 5-10 minutes. Others may take a little longer. The point is, you don’t have to spend half a day filling in bubbles. (Of course, the more time and effort you put into it, the more you’re likely to get out of it.)
4. Assessments can help at any stage of your life.
Years ago, you might have spent most or all of your career working for the same company. There was little need to assess yourself once you got your foot in the door. Those days are gone. Today, if you’re like most people, you’ll work for lots of different companies or organizations over the course of your career. This means YOU are in charge of deciding what’s important to you, where to develop your skills, and when and why it’s time to seek new opportunities. Whether you’re 14, 44, or 64, a self-assessment can help you do this.
5. Assessments help you recognize your transferable assets.
When exploring your options, you need not be limited to thinking only about your current and previous job duties. A good assessment will encourage you to think more about the qualities that you bring to any job. It won’t ask you if you’ve ever written memos or handled customer phone calls; it’ll ask you about your writing abilities or social skills. This is great if you want to explore the range of possibilities open to you.
6. Assessments help you identify your weaknesses.
No one is perfect at everything, and no one likes everything equally. If you really want to get the most out of your assessment, you MUST rate yourself honestly. It’s probably more important to name the things you don’t like or aren’t good at than it is to identify your strengths. The more truthful and discriminating you are, the better your results will match the real you.
7. Assessments can help you make career decisions with a strong awareness of who you are and what you want.
Once you’ve identified your weaknesses honestly, the next questions is: what do you want to do about them? Again, there’s no wrong answer here – it’s just important to explore the question. Are you at a place in your career where you want to challenge yourself to grow in some of your weaker areas? Or are you satisfied with the opportunities that are open to you even if you never change a thing?
8. Assessments are objective.
The great thing about assessments is that they’re totally impartial. Unlike your friends or relatives, they don’t know you personally and they don’t have preconceived ideas about what you can or should be based on your personality, your gender, your race, or anything else. Because of this, assessments can sometimes give you unexpected results. Before dismissing results that don’t immediately make sense to you, ask yourself: is there anything about that career that interests you?
9. (Many) assessments are free.
Hint: any assessment you find on ISEEK or O*NET will be free. In general, assessments at “.com” websites will probably have a price tag attached, whereas “.org” or “.edu” sites will probably provide free resources. And in the world of assessments, it isn’t true that you get what you pay for. The free resources are typically just as good as the ones that you pay for.
10. Assessments can help you with resume-writing and “personal branding”
Personal branding is all the rage now. The phrase simply means knowing who you are and what makes you unique, especially to an employer. Taking the time to do an assessment could help you find the right words to describe yourself in a resume or cover letter. It could also give you insights about your unique “brand.”