I have a confession to make: I haven’t always been a big believer in personality or career aptitude tests.
That all ties back to an experience I had in the seventh grade. As part of a class assignment, we were required to take a personality assessment to guide our career choices. I sat in that dark computer lab, doing my best to answer each prompt as honestly as possible.
When I got the results? Well, let’s just say I was disappointed.
The test told me that I had a great future lined up for me as a taxidermist—yes, as in someone who preserves the bodies of dead animals for a living.
I’m an animal lover through and through. I’m the type who catches spiders and releases them outside, rather than squishing them. So, needless to say, I was frustrated that the results could be so misguided about what I’d actually want to do day in and day out.
Since that time, I’ve kept my distance from similar assessments. But, since I write here for Truity and am always on the lookout for relevant fodder for blog posts, I decided to take another crack at one of their career tests—promising myself that I wouldn’t be offended by the results.
I decided to take the TypeFinder® for Career Planning, and again thought long and hard about how I rated my qualities and responded to the questions. I had a far better experience this time (and I’m pleased to report that the results were far more accurate).
But, there was something else about this assessment that surprised me: I actually found the process of answering the questions to be equally important as the results themselves. Here are a few of the many reasons why I think just the act of taking a personality assessment is important for career planning (regardless of the results!).
1. It Gives You Dedicated Time for Self-Reflection
When’s the last time you spent some serious time on self-reflection? Has it been a while? When Gallup reports that 79% of Americans feel stressed sometimes or frequently during their day, you aren’t alone.
Your daily fires and responsibilities don’t leave a lot of room for dedicated contemplation—by the time you make it through your work to-do list and clock out, you’re off to tackle your personal commitments. You’re going through the motions. You’re keeping your head down and powering through.
Honestly, that’s one of the things I appreciated most about taking this career assessment: it gave me quiet, scheduled time to just step back and think. What do I like in my work? What do I dislike? How would I describe my own approach?
Those are important questions—but ones I admittedly don’t assign much weight or thought to on an average day.
Plus, research shows that leaving this time for reflection can actually boost your performance. A study from Harvard Business School found that employees who spent just 15 minutes at the end of the workday reflecting on lessons learned performed 23% better than after 10 days than those who didn’t give themselves that time for rumination.
2. It Highlights Your Core Values
That time for reflection was far more revealing than I thought it’d be. As I was answering the prompts and indicating my level of agreement with certain statements, I started to pull out some trends and facts about my personal values—far before the results page outlined them for me.
Some of these common themes were expected, but some of them surprised me.
For example, as a writer, I tend to think of myself as a creative brain. I assume that I fit the mold of someone who can roll with the punches and strike while inspiration is flowing.
As it turns out, that’s not necessarily the case. While taking the assessment, I found myself leaning more toward statements about how I tend to favor established procedures, trusted methods, and schedules that I can follow.
That hardly seems to fit the artistic and fickle mold I’ve established in my own head. But, when I took some time to really ponder on these points, I realized that they’re true.
I may be creative, but I still thrive with predictability and routine. And even more than that, I don’t always want to be creative. I also like the occasional repetitive task that produces some really tangible results. I guess that explains why I don’t really mind filling out my expense spreadsheet at the end of every month.
3. It Gives You a Break From the Influence of Others
People love to dish out career advice, don’t they? I can’t count the times a well-meaning person has told me, “Hey, you’d be a really great [insert job here]” based on their own limited perceptions of who I am or what I’m skilled at.
Like it or not, the opinions of others can carry a lot of power. From an evolutionary standpoint, we’re essentially hardwired to seek approval and agreement. Even brain imaging shows that the reward centers of our brain are more active when people agree with or reinforce our opinions.
But ultimately, your career decisions are your own—and sometimes having other parties chime in with their two cents can add more confusion when you’re trying to decide on your next step.
Related to the above two points, taking a career assessment is an isolated activity (at least, it should be). That means you have the necessary space to think for yourself, without the influence of other well-intentioned people.
Sometimes The Journey Is Even Better Than the Destination
Have you heard this type of sentiment before? I think it applies to many things, and that includes career assessments.
It might take you by surprise (hey, it certainly did for me!), but even just the process of answering those questions can reveal a lot to guide you in your next direction for your career—well before you’re actually presented with the results.
Curious to try it for yourself? Check out our variety of career assessments right here.