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Given the many career options available, deciding on one is no simple task. A career test may help you discover your strongest interests and explore careers that fit you the best, making it a bit easier to make such a big commitment. After all, you're likely to be more successful in a career you enjoy. Career tests use factors such as personality, skills, intelligence and past experience to find the career that is just right for you.
Psychologist John Holland developed a theory on career choice that is well known and researched. Many career tests are based on his theory. As described on CareerKey.org, Holland's theory states that people have one of six personality types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising or conventional. Each type has a corresponding work environment of the same name and people create work environments based on their personality. Unless you get to create your own work environment, a career test based on Holland's theory can help you determine the career that would make you the happiest. Other career tests use other personality theories, like Myers-Briggs, to make a similar career match, notes the Mind Tools website.
Johnson O'Connor believed that people who knew their aptitudes made wiser career choices. The Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation has spent over 80 years researching aptitudes, or natural abilities, to better understand them. The foundation has developed career assessments that use these aptitudes to help people find jobs they enjoy. According to the foundation, people are happier working in jobs that challenge their abilities but don't require abilities they don't have. Various career tests based on cognitive aptitude exist, as do many tests that combine aptitude with interest.
Chances are you've already developed some job skills or transferable skills. Career tests based on skills can be a practical way to find a career. The U.S. Department of Labor's O-Net OnLine allows job seekers to search for careers based on skills they already have or plan to have. Veterans can search for careers that require the same skills they used in the military. If you want to find a career based on a skill you value, a skills-based test might be the way to go.
John D. Krumboltz's career choice theory suggests that people choose their careers based on life's events. Similarly, Happenstance Learning Theory (Krumboltz, Mitchell & Gelatt) explains that people often find their career through a series of unplanned events or by luck. Your knowledge, skills, interests and personality can change over time. Finding a lifelong career match from a test is therefore challenging. Krumboltz suggests that career tests be used for exploring careers rather than selecting careers, according to the University of Kansas. Donald Super also developed a theory that shows people choose careers that are based on self-concept and changes throughout life, per Careers New Zealand.
- The Career Key: Holland's Theory of Career Choice and You
- MindTools: Myers-Briggs Personality Testing
- Alliant International University: Holland’s Theory of Personalities in Work Environments
- Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation: Aptitudes
- National Guidance Research Forum: From Social Learning to Happenstance
- Careers New Zealand: Super's Theory
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.
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