Career changes can happen at any point in life. Even for people who have found the career that they love, making a shift to a new company should be approached with intentionality and caution. Personality assessments can be useful as you look to find your new job or a second career, as they enlighten you to your motivations and behavioral strengths. In this article, AARP recommends some of the most popular personality and career assessments, including The Birkman Method®, for the job seeker.
“If you’re feeling burned out in your job or considering a change, it might be worth taking an online personality assessment.
Evaluations based on your answers to these multiple-choice questions aim to reveal your interests, motivations, personality strengths and weaknesses. Employers typically use them as a tool to build teams at work, or when making promotion choices between candidates.
An increasing number of these assessments are online for anyone interested in seeking a little dose of self-discovery. Don’t worry if you haven’t taken a test in decades. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to what makes you tick.
“For someone who has never had this kind of input, taking one of these tests can be an opportunity to see what they’re made of and provide a sense of direction,” says William Winn, a consulting psychologist in residence at New Directions, a career coaching firm based in Boston. “You might identify interests left behind, personal values set aside or overlooked opportunities. As we get older, the things that truly matter to us begin to shift.”
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Do these assessments provide information you can use? “It’s not so much what you learn, but how you use it,” says Marc Miller, author of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers and a career coach at Career Pivot. “The biggest challenge of these online assessments is that if all you do is read it, say OK, yep, yep, yep, that’s me, and walk away, why bother? It’s probably a waste of time.”
So while you may take the test on your own, ask either a career coach or a family member to go over the results and see how they relate to your current job and career goals.
Sharon Good, a career coach based in New York City, says you shouldn’t expect any major revelations.
“Many people find that assessments only confirm what they already know or things they’ve already done,” she says.
For job seekers, knowing what you’re good at allows you tell your story in interviews. For career changers, it might open up doors to considering jobs you may never have considered.
One final caveat: Personality assessments are designed to pinpoint your strengths, temperament, values and weaknesses.”