How do you know if career assessment tools are reliable?

Career assessment tools are popular ways to explore your interests, skills, values, and personality traits and match them with suitable career options. But how do you know if the results you get are reliable and valid? How can you avoid wasting time and money on tests that are not based on sound scientific principles or that are biased or outdated? Here are some tips to help you evaluate the quality and credibility of career assessment tools.

Check the source

The first thing to do is to check who developed, published, and administered the career assessment tool. Is it a reputable organization or institution with expertise in the field of career development? Is it accredited by a professional association or a regulatory body? Does it provide clear and transparent information about the purpose, content, format, scoring, and interpretation of the test? If the source is unclear, unknown, or dubious, you may want to look for another option.

  • Madeline Mann

    Turning Job Seekers into Job Shoppers 🍊 | Your Fairy Job Mother | Career Strategist featured on ABC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal | Creator of Self Made Millennial | Job Search & Career Coach

    The value of an assessment is to get out of our own heads and get a fresh perspective. So often we are sitting in the bottle and can’t read the label — we are so close to our own careers that we are unsure what is the right next move. An assessment can get your thoughts flowing. But which ones are good? That is a tough question. I’ve always relied on career and industry experts to vet them, as well as I both vetted & created some myself. Here are some that I would recommend: ASA Futurescape – Help suggest career paths - How to Land More Job Offers – Report on how to improve your job search – High5 – Free strengths assessment –

Look for evidence

The second thing to do is to look for evidence that supports the reliability and validity of the career assessment tool. Reliability refers to the consistency and accuracy of the test results over time and across different situations. Validity refers to the extent to which the test measures what it claims to measure and predicts relevant outcomes. A good career assessment tool should have both high reliability and validity, and provide data and references to back up its claims. If the evidence is lacking, weak, or outdated, you may want to question the usefulness of the test.

  • Dr. Janet Wall

    Career and Professional Development Specialist ◆Founder and CEO, ◆NCDA Fellow ◆JCTC ◆CCSP ◆ASVAB ◆Author: Books, Articles, Blogs ◆Assessment and Testing

    First and foremost, the assessment should have high reliability. If it doesn’t have high reliability you can have no confidence in the results. Therefore the results are not interpretable.

Consider the context

The third thing to do is to consider the context in which you are taking the career assessment tool. Is it appropriate for your age, education, experience, culture, and goals? Is it relevant for the current and future labor market trends and opportunities? Is it compatible with your learning style and preferences? A good career assessment tool should be adaptable and flexible to suit different needs and situations, and provide realistic and actionable feedback. If the context is irrelevant, inappropriate, or unrealistic, you may want to seek another perspective.

Compare and contrast

The fourth thing to do is to compare and contrast the results of different career assessment tools. No single test can capture the complexity and diversity of your career potential and aspirations. Therefore, it is wise to use multiple sources of information and feedback to get a more comprehensive and balanced view of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges. A good career assessment tool should complement and supplement other methods of career exploration, such as self-reflection, research, networking, mentoring, and coaching. If the results are contradictory, confusing, or incomplete, you may want to dig deeper.

Apply your judgment

The fifth thing to do is to apply your judgment and critical thinking to the results of the career assessment tool. Remember that the test is not a magic bullet or a final answer, but a tool to help you discover and clarify your career preferences and options. You are the expert on your own life and career, and you have the final say on what works best for you. A good career assessment tool should empower and inspire you to take action and pursue your career goals, not limit or dictate them. If the results are discouraging, misleading, or unrealistic, you may want to trust your intuition.

Seek professional guidance

The sixth thing to do is to seek professional guidance from a qualified and experienced career counselor or coach. A career professional can help you understand, interpret, and apply the results of the career assessment tool in a meaningful and constructive way. They can also provide you with additional resources, tools, and strategies to support your career development and decision-making process. A good career professional should respect and value your individuality and autonomy, and help you achieve your career satisfaction and success. If you need more help, guidance, or feedback, you may want to consult a career professional.

Here’s what else to consider

This is a space to share examples, stories, or insights that don’t fit into any of the previous sections. What else would you like to add?

  • Karen Santiano Francis, MS, GCDF, CCSP

    Program Manager/O2O| Career Development | Executive Coaching | Training | Connector Military, Milspouse, Veteran Programs| MD Notary

    Assessments are only as good as the information you put in. As Alfredo Torres said, you have to be honest. You also need to be ready to try a few assessments – and to also be willing to hear something you might not want to hear! If you want to do X, but all the assessments say you really don’t have the mindset/skills to do X, are you willing to go ahead and try it anyway? Or will you go and do Y, which is what the assessments tell you that you are best suited for? That, is up to you.

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