Career assessment is a process of evaluating an individual’s interests and aptitudes to determine their best fit for a career. This process can be done in an exploratory way, for example, individuals can use a career counseling service and take a variety of tests to help them determine their optimal career path. The process can also be used by human resources and hiring managers to determine which candidates are the best fit for a particular job.
A career assessment can be many things. Let’s explore what it is, and what it isn’t, to develop a functional career assessment definition.
A career assessment is not a test
Although the various tools used for career assessment may be test-like in form and function (i.e., they use standard test formats, like multiple-choice tests), they aren’t tests in the sense that there are no right and wrong answers to the questions. When analyzing the results, what is important is the pattern of results, which reflects a person’s interests and abilities. So, someone might answer one way and another person might answer completely differently—it isn’t that one person is right and the other is wrong, but rather that the two people are best suited for different types of jobs.
The results of a career assessment are not set in stone
People’s interests and abilities can change over time, as they explore new areas and learn new things. Therefore, the results of a career assessment should not be taken as deterministic or set in stone. It is possible that over the course of a lifetime, a person’s career assessment results may change dramatically, so it is a process individual may want to complete several times over the course of their lives.
Career assessments use many different tools
A career assessment isn’t just one thing—it is a process potentially involving many different tools. Two of the tools most commonly used by career counselors are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is a personality test, and the Strong Interest Inventory, which compares an individual’s interests to the interests of people working in various occupations. Companies often use personality tests and skills assessments, developed either in-house or by a third-party.A plethora of new tools have appeared in recent years, many of which can be taken online for free. The key factor for any career assessment is its validity, which is the degree to which the assessment actually measures what it is supposed to and thus can be used to draw meaningful conclusions.
Career assessments are used for many different types of jobs
Many people associate career assessment with vocational occupations (i.e., trades) only, but this is not an accurate representation. Today, with the wide range of assessments available, and with organizations relying more and more on data to drive their decision-making, career assessment tools are used to determine goodness-of-fit for everyone from entry-level tradespeople to managers.
Career assessment is beneficial for everybody
Finding the right job is just as important for individuals as finding the right candidate is for companies. Career assessments can help people learn more about the types of jobs that are available and how well they might perform in various occupations. On the other hand, career assessments can also save companies time and money by helping them identify the best candidates, to begin with, rather than hiring the wrong people first and having to start over.
When we put all of these elements together, we can achieve a pretty good career assessment definition: career assessment is a multifaceted process of assessing individuals’ current interests and abilities to help people find their ideal jobs and companies find their ideal candidates.