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Can a Career Assessment Help You Figure out Your Future?

If you’re trying to figure out your life’s calling, career assessment tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator may be a good place to start. [TWEET]

Somewhere in America at this very moment, a high schooler is gathering information about himself by taking a computer-based assessment. Guided by his school counselor, he will review the questionnaire results, and together they will discuss the many college majors or future occupations that are best suited for him. The ‘test’ – the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – is just one of many career assessment tools that his advisor can use to help clarify his values, interests and personality characteristics to make a more informed career choice. Beyond just pinpointing preferences, the assessment results will enable the student to set benchmarks and work toward achievable career goals.

The use of career assessment tools like the MBTI aren’t just for high schoolers, however. Widespread use of such tools has fostered a new appreciation for personality differences in the workplace, a greater acceptance of diverse working styles, and insight into colleagues’ often mystifying behaviors. The MBTI gives us a ‘personality snapshot’ by observing preferences that govern a person’s behavior, along with vital clues as to career direction.

Based on the psychological type theory of Carl Jung, the MBTI sees a focus on internal experience as an indicator of introversion (I), and conversely, views strong social skills as indicating extraversion (E). People who make decisions by thinking it through (T) are distinguished from those who let their feelings (F) rule. The MBTI also notes whether sensation (S) or intuition (N), judging (J) or perceiving (P) are favored approaches.

There are 16 possible combinations of these personality types, each assigned a four-letter code, with each type best suited for certain professions. For instance, if your “type” is an INFP, your Introverted Intuitive Feeling and Perceiving style makes your gift for language a perfect fit with writing or editorial work. If an ESTJ, your predisposition for Extraverted Sensing Thinking and Judging makes you a natural manager or sales person. The practical nature of an ISTP makes work as a mechanic or building inspector ideal, and an ENFJ’s tendency to be empathic points to the fields of social services or philanthropy.

In the words of the MBTI’s creators, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers, “Knowing your own preferences and learning about other people’s can help you understand what your strengths are, what kinds of work you might enjoy, and how people with different preferences can relate to one another and contribute to society.” Noble causes, indeed. It has been shown that the MBTI’s measurements, which fall on a continuum between two extremes, can vary over time because people’s preferences can fluctuate. This is where a trained occupational counselor comes in, using a career decision-making model with the career assessment tools to connect the dots between personality, thinking style and vocational preference. The good news is that such analysis doesn’t have to take an eternity; an initial investment of about 60 minutes can help you figure out what to do with the other 37 million minutes of your life.

After a rocky start, the MBTI has been remarkably embraced by U.S. industry and educational institutions. Management consultants such as McKinsey & Company have long used psychometric testing such as the MBTI to understand and categorize new employees. Career counselors use the Strong Interest Inventory, the TypeFocus, the Personal Career Development Profile as well as the MBTI to help clients evaluate their suitability for a career under consideration. "Big Five" Personality Factors (extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness) can also be instrumental in matching candidates with appropriate vocational choices. Leadership programs, staffing firms and HR departments worldwide rely on results from these tools as a means of determining a candidate’s ‘organizational fit’ within the corporate culture.

The blueprint for pursuing an ideal path in life often starts with self-knowledge. [TWEET] Attaining that awareness is a valid investment of our time because of how important work satisfaction is to our overall happiness. Tapping into a widely-available resource such as personality or career assessment tools to apply that knowledge is an essential step to finding out your own calling in life.

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!