Career Assessments and Career Happiness

When I first began my career as a career counselor, I remember attending a conference for our profession held in Sacramento close to 20 years ago. One of the workshops was a debate on both sides of the effectiveness of career assessments versus self-assessment and introspection. While I have taken and given many assessments, I have never felt the warm fuzzies when using them in any capacity, with the exception of the Self-Directed Search by John Holland, which I use in a very limited capacity, and in combination with one on one or small group counseling. Utilizing assessments without interaction with a professional or as a small piece of the equation for identifying one’s ideal career direction, in my opinion, can cause even more confusion. My concern is with the large career-oriented companies that tend to over use these tools. Assessments should be just that – a tool. Although I realize I may be offending career professionals who use assessments almost exclusively, my feelings backed by experienced in the field have never changed. We must be encouraged to ask and answer questions in an environment of complete openness and willingness to explore anything and everything that our minds can conjure. We must also be allowed to explore the feelings we have while exploring many possibilities – good and bad. Our feelings are ALWAYS the key indicator of our best choice for long term career happiness. If we feel anxious, impatient, frustrated, bored, or even sick to our stomach when we read a job description, this is a huge indicator we should not apply for the position. On the other hand, if we feel excitement, enthusiasm, and even exhilaration about a career opportunity – this is also a sign. If I’m looking at a job description that includes an inordinate amount of record-keeping, I realize this is probably not going to be a good fit, even though I am perfectly capable of doing the work. On the other hand, if I feel exhilarated and excited about using a skill or doing a task, this is a huge clue that we need to look a lot closer. Assessments can provide us with good information, but not from a place of true introspection. Have you ever gotten the results of an assessment that seemed to be very much on target? Yet, when you asked yourself, What did I do with that information?, it is more likely that you did little or nothing. Many people do not follow up with the written recommendations even though they may spend thousands of dollars on taking these types of assessments. Why? Because there is, often, very little personal involvement in the process or coaching to move you through the challenges and ways that you can sabotage yourself before you get to the place of understanding what will truly bring you career happiness without the outside influences. What the assessments don’t take into consideration is the fine tuning involved where you get to feel or experience the parts of the job or career that truly resonate with who you are. I always have and always will advocate for a personal process that is structured enough to allow the individual to come to his/her own conclusions. All it takes is one assessment that provides inconsistent job or career goals, and we can shut down to other career opportunities or possibilities that will fit like a glove. Please freely leave comments if you have taken career assessments and may have been turned off to the idea of exploring career opportunities that have the potential to create career happiness. Image Credit: Bigstock

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