Career Assessments: Overcoming the Negative Stigma

Contributed by Michael Sorsdahl, LearnOnline Instructor

What is the first thing you think of when you hear assessments? Most people will probably think of a test, or an exam of some sort. This connection between the idea of assessments and tests can bring with it anxiety for the test-taker depending on previous experiences with tests in the past. When people think of career assessments, many people may think the test will give them the answer about what they should do in their lives for a career. If we connect the anxiety about test taking with the belief that tests have all the answers, it is not surprising there are some negative stigmas and inaccurate views about tests within the career development field. This inaccurate view of career assessments is perpetuated by people in the career field who select the wrong assessments in a test-and-tell approach style in their hope to help clients explore career options. In order to overcome this issue, gaining the education of how to use and understand career assessments appropriately and properly is the next logical step.

Assessments are designed to provide information that supports the career exploration process, and when appropriate assessments are used in this way, they can provide important information that may not otherwise come up in practitioner-client discussions. Using both the informal method of discussion and interviewing along with formal methods of psychometric tests provides a more thorough picture of what is going on with the client. Guidelines for the selection and use of assessments include:

  • Select appropriate assessments with strong psychometric properties (e.g., validity, reliability, and norm groups) that match the client’s needs and background
  • Always use more than one assessment tool so you can look for similarities and discrepancies between them
  • Always debrief clients about the results to help them understand how the information can help them make decisions (as opposed to using the test as the answer).

If you want to learn more about how to select and understand career assessments to maximize their value for clients, join Life Strategies’ Administering and Interpreting Career Assessments starting next week.

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