2. What are the drawbacks?
The most harmful drawback is over-reliance on career assessment results, like a "magic bullet" to solve all that ails your career. No assessment, no matter how good it is, can give you answers or solve your problems. Only YOU can do that. Career assessments are useful tools in discovering more about yourself. That can prove highly relevant to finding a good career fit.
Another drawback is taking assessments on your own (often online) without any professional guidance from a career counselor or coach. Without the right preparation beforehand and appropriate interpretation of the results afterwards, you could be wasting your money on invalid results.
Jumping to conclusions about assessment results is another downside. Basing a career choice on only ONE assessment or rushing to a choice based on a few results can spell disaster. You need to get a well-rounded view of yourself (skills, interests, personality type, values and goals, needs, career beliefs and obstacles) to make a fully informed career decision.
Confidentiality can be a drawback if assessment vendors or coaches are not keeping your contact and financial information, as well as your test results, in a secure manner. For example, conducting assessment interpretation sessions over a wireless phone or cell phone can be a very insecure form of communication. These kinds of transmissions can be overheard (even if inadvertantly).
3. How can taking assessments improve my career?
By understanding yourself better and what makes for a good career and work environment fit, you will have an edge in identifying stellar opportunities early on and jumping on them, while others are still pondering and staying stuck.
By creating a Branded Action Plan, based on the results of your branding and career assessments, you will know exactly what you need to do to maximize your career growth. You'll be able to target employers of choice and land jobs in your field of choice with less effort and more efficiency. Your career will take a LEAP to the next level, instead of relying on chance to move you forward.
4. What kind of assessments are there?
Formal assessments are inventories or tests, with no right or wrong answers, developed by experts according to scientific principles of test construction. They are often referred to as standardized tests. Tests in this category include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), The Kuder Career Planning System, and the Campbell Interest and Skills Survey (CISS), among many others.
You can find formal assessments online or offline (paper-and-pencil). The key consideration is that they have been stringently developed and tested, and have very detailed, written criteria for administration and interpretation. The details are contained in an assessment manual or vendor-company training materials.
Informal assessments are simple questionnaires or exercises, like journal writing, creating a "dream-job" collage of pictures, or brief essays about past successes. All of these activities provide insight into who you are, what you want, and why that's important. The key here is that these informal assessments are NOT scientifically developed and tested. They can still be extremely helpful counterpoints to formal assessments. By comparing the two sets of responses (formal and informal) you can check for "congruency", that is the degree to which the answers match.
Career assessments (both formal and informal) can be found for many dimensions of who you are as a person: interests, skills, abilities, values, personality type, behavioral style, career beliefs and obstacles, and career maturity.
5. Why do I need to be concerned about validity and reliability?
Let's look at what these two terms mean and the implications.
Validity means the assessment measures what it has been designed to measure, so that when it is used correctly, it gives valid results. Why would you want to base any strategic thinking about your career and a decision on an assessment whose results are questionable (not valid)?
Reliability means an assessment gives an accurate and consistent measurement over time, such as test-retest reliability (same test given twice or more to the same person). If the assessment has low reliability (or none at all) that means you could get different results, even if you took it 4 or 5 times within a short time span. Which results would you believe?
The publisher or vendor can tell you if there's a user's manual with validity and reliability information. A professional career counselor or career coach can determine if the validity and reliability are sufficient to warrant placing confidence in the test results.
6. Are these career assessments good for a lifetime?
Career assessments are like a snapshot of who you are at a particular point in time. Just as wel grow and change over our lifespan, so do our skills, interests, passions, life and work values, goals and needs. Think about it...are you still the same in all of these elements as you were when you were 20 years old?
Even personality type, an expression of our preferences for taking in information, making decisions, how we are energized, and whether we prefer to keep things open or move to closure, can change over time for many reasons. Some of these are developmental (based on what life stage you are in), and some of these are more environmental (based on your situation or surroundings).
So, the bottom line is that any career assessment over 2 years old is probably dated and should not be considered entirely valid. Taking career and branding assessments at critical career junctures in your life provides you with up-to-date, valid information for career growth. Working with a professional career counselor or career coach can keep you on track, serve as your sounding board for ideas, provide you with a wealth of resources and support, and streamline your decision-making and career planning.
Certain assessments, such as the 360Reach Branding Assessment and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, can also help you to clarify and communicate your "unique brand" for self-marketing via a Branded Action Plan. That's critical these days in landing good jobs and taking LEAPS in your career growth.
7. Will it take a lot of time, effort and money?
In a word - NO. The LEAP Program for unfocused individuals, which is a comprehensive branding and career assessments program with career counseling and coaching, can be completed in 2 months! If you know your career target (you have a career focus), then you may need far less time to propel your career to a better situation.
The critical component is effort...the bulk of the work is done by you. Assessments are part of a process to self-understanding and that takes some time and effort. Folks who approach the process in a serious and committed way get the most out of it, and more quickly.
You can find cheap and even free assessments online, but unfortunately these are often unproven, unreliable assessments that most career counselors and coaches choose not to use. If you are basing your career future on an assessments program, don't go cheap. You'll get what you pay for (you've heard that before, and it's true here).
Our LEAP Program
utilizes formal assessments along with informal assessment exercises, five hours of career counseling and coaching time, and unlimited email support for two months to ensure that you can develop a career focus that is just right for you AND a Branded Action Plan to get there.
Compare the cost of the LEAP Program to a lifetime of boring or destructive jobs...of feeling lost in career wonderland. How much is peace of mind and a real career future worth to you?