Do you secretly believe a career assessment might reveal the “real you,” show your hidden potential, or true purpose? Many of us hope so! But though those hopes probably overreach the limitations of even the good career assessments, they can provide important feedback about finding a career that suits you.
Specifically, a good career assessment will:
- Answer a specific question, like which occupations might be a good match for you
- Offer a framework to think about career options, with good reasons to consider certain fields
- Doesn’t offer a guarantee that you’d like the work or be able to find a job in that field
The most prominent framework for career assessment today, used in a many different tools and formats, is based on one career theorist’s research and is known as the Holland theory of type.
Dr. John Holland believed that people’s interests, and work environments, could be categorized into six different groups. After testing a large number of people, he found that most of them were drawn to two or three of the areas more than the others. He also found that occupations could be classified as most related to two or three interest areas.
His assessment gives you a shorthand method to match your interests to similar careers so that you can focus on work environments you are more apt to like. While there isn’t a guarantee you’ll like all the occupations that come up as matches, it’s pretty likely you will have a lot in common with other people who work in those fields.
Is your curiosity piqued yet? Good news: the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration developed an Interest Profiler based on Holland’s theory to make it easy for people to take a reliable career assessment for free. Keep in mind that your results will be gauged on around 800 different occupations, so don’t panic if your results include careers that don’t interest you! It takes between 20-30 minutes to complete.
Want to feel more solid and expand your ideas further before making a career decision? It can be helpful to take more than one assessment to get additional feedback. Try CareerOneStop’s Skills Profiler to identify your job skills and match them to careers.
For more assessments and help interpreting assessment results, meet with a career counselor at a community college, community agency or your nearest American Job Center.