Professional woman smiling while sitting in front of a laptop

Are career assessments really useful?

Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens.

Research careers using career assessments.

(OK, it doesn’t rhyme. I never claimed to be a poet.)

Career assessment tools are abundant online. They can be super helpful in directing you toward careers of interest. However, given that the internet is literally a place where anybody can publish anything, they can also be super terrible.

What is a career assessment tool? It’s a test you take to assess something about your skills, interests or personality, and then it offers up matching careers for you to explore. Assessments come in different flavours. Aptitude or skill tests measure your ability to perform different tasks (like an IQ test). Interest inventories ask you to rate your interest in a variety of tasks and responsibilities (JVIS, Career Cruising). And personality tests assess…well, your personality (MBTI, True Colours, DISC).

In general, I’m a fan of “you get what you pay for” but there are some great free tools out there that you may find really helpful. These are my top three faves. career assessment tool

16Personalities provides a free version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. MBTI has been around for several decades. There’s a simple test on that measures your preferences in four dimensions, and comes up with a four-letter code that defines your personality “type.” As the site name suggests, there are 16 different options. One thing I don’t like about this site is that it doesn’t provide specific career suggestions. However, once your type is defined, you can do a Google search for “jobs suitable for ____. (And actually, I really like how lays out career options based on personality type.)

What I do like is that digs into how you are at work based on your personality. It provides analysis on what types of workplaces might suit you best, how you perform as a leader and what types of leadership are likely to be suited to your personality type. Those are things people don’t think about, so I’m glad to see this site shed some light on it.

Plus it has fun graphics and gives your personality fancy monikers like “The Protagonist” or “The Architect.”

O*NET Interest Profiler career assessment tool

Nowadays, many students in Canada take interest assessments in Career Cruising or MyBlueprint. Access to both is behind a paywall, and school boards typically pay those fees.

A free alternative I really like is the O*NET Interest Profiler. It’s based on a classic career development theory known as the Holland codes. (Here’s a primer if you want to get on the career nerd train with me.) A Holland-code-based assessment will measure you on six different areas, and the combination of your top three defines your Holland code. This assessment asks you to rate your preference on a scale of “hell no” to “yes please” on 60 different tasks, and then goes on to suggest all kinds of careers that match your interests. Careers are even categorized by education level so you can get a sense of how much education and training you might need.

VIA Character Strengths tool

To be fair, the VIA Character Strengths tool isn’t entirely a career assessment. However, a great deal of research has been done in the field of positive psychology around the effect of using character strengths in the workplace. It turns out that when you consistently use two or more of your top five strengths at work, you are more likely to enjoy what you do.

Since I’m a big proponent of finding meaning in your work instead of chasing your passion, this one gets a big thumbs up from me. Start by creating an account, and then you will be asked a series of questions that assess your strengths (don’t overthink your answers!). At the end, you’ll be presented with a list of 25 character traits listed in order of strongest to weakest.

Even better than doing one assessment is to do a few different types and see what careers come up each time. That’s a good indicator that you might be on to something.

Have fun!

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