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The Riley Guide: Before You Search

Self-Assessment Resources


What is Self-Assessment?

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Self-assessment is a process by which you learn more about yourself -- what you like, what you don't like, and how you tend to react to certain situations. Knowing these things can help you determine which occupations and work situations could be a better fit for you. You may recognize some of these tools if you ever worked with a career counselor or consultant.
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Types of Assessments

There are many varieties of assessment tools, easy measuring a particular facet of you, like your interests, skills, personality, and values. Self-assessment tools are also either Self-Directed or Requiring Interpretive Assistance.
  • Self-Directed means the tool is designed so you can use it and review your results without a licensed or trained professional interpreting the data for you. Even though they do not require intervention to read the results, you may still find you have questions. If that is the case, the service offering the tool may offer a way for you to follow-up or you can turn to our list of counseling associations for help in finding a counselor.
  • Tools Requiring Interpretive Assistance mean your results will have to be discussed with a person licensed or trained in this particular tool so you can understand what the data is saying. The cost of the tool will include this interpretive assistance in some form.
Sometimes the problem is finding the right tool to help you in a particular situation. For example, you were just promoted and want to learn how to be a more effective manager. An interest inventory would not be your best option here, but what would be? Career-Intelligence.com has put together a nice table identifying which assessment tools are best for which learning situations.

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One-Stop Sites

These sites offer a variety of assessments (skills inventories, interest inventories, etc.) from a single entry point. They are also all offered for free. Having all of the assessments in one location doesn't make them any faster to complete, but it may make it easier for you to try them.
CareerDirect
[self-directed / fee] The Career Direct Complete Guidance System analyzes four critical areas (personality, interests, skills, and values) "to help you maximize your God-given talents and abilities." While this tool is based on research and has been validated, it clearly states that it approaches career guidance from a Biblical perspective. The developer is a Christian, but I did not see anything in the website nor the free Personality ID assessment that stressed this. In fact, if I had not noticed the wording in the information about the assessment and the developer, I really would not have known this. It just appeared to be helpful. The fee for the online assessment is comparable to tools like the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (see above) but you can review some sample reports before buying to decide if this tool might be useful to you.
Career Development eManual, University of Waterloo Career Services
[self-directed / fee] The award-winning Career Development eManual is a collection of six modules complete with information about what each hopes to accomplish, forms and/or exercises which may be printed out and completed. It is designed to help you
  • Define your skills, values, and personal characteristics;
  • Target opportunities that match your talents and interests;
  • Set your career goals and create action plans;
  • Develop the tools to market yourself to potential employers;
  • Navigate and negotiate employment contracts; and
  • Evaluate your career aspirations on an ongoing basis.
Since it was originally developed for college students, some more experienced people may not find it as helpful, but persons considering a major career change could benefit from this resources. There is a fee for this service, but you can review an online demonstration before you decide to buy it, and your subscription permits access for 90 days.
Queendom
...offers a variety of personality, intelligence, and health tests and quizzes. "We offer a full range of professional-quality, scientifically-validated psychological assessments that empower you to grow and reach your real potential through insightful feedback and detailed, custom-tailored analysis." The site is a subsidiary of PsychTests AIM Inc., a high-tech psychometric company that develops a suite of products and services centered around its extensive battery of psychological assessments. You can review information on their development and validation under "About the Site". All users can register for free and take a short form of most of their assessments and tests at no cost, but some tests as well as extended personalized result reports will cost some fee.
Career Assessment Tools & Tests, Quintcareers.com
...nice collection of tools for you to review and try. They also offer some articles talking about the role of assessments, Do's and Don'ts for working with these, and a detailed review of several tools.
The Testing Room
...a collection of free assessments offered by Psychometrics Canada Ltd., a developer of assessments for career counselors. You must register to use the tools, but this only means providing your name, email address, and gender, and their privacy policy is good. You then have access to their Personality Index, the Career Values Scale, the Career Interests Inventory, and the Career Competency Explorer (skills inventory). Each of these also has an extended component and report, available for a nominal fee.

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Personality and Type Indicators

Many people talk about their "type" or how they have taken personality tests, but I really think that few understand the information they have been given. What exactly is "type" and personality and what do they have to do with your job search? According to the Myers & Briggs Foundation,
"Psychological type describes the different ways people:
  • prefer to take in information,
  • prefer to make decisions,
  • are energized by the outside world or by the inner world, and
  • prefer to keep things open or to move towards closure.
These four preferences result in a person's psychological type, sometimes called personality type. The theory of psychological type says that people with different preferences naturally have different interests, perspectives, behaviors, and motivations. Awareness of preferences helps people understand and value others who think and act quite differently."
We have indicated if a tool is self-directed or requires assistance and if it is free or charges a fee for use.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Myers & Briggs Foundation
[Requires Assistance / Fee]. This is a very popular tool used in many situations, but the results require the interpretive assistance of a certified MBTI practitioner. You can find a full list of these practitioners at Association for Psychological Type, or you can purchase this tool plus an interpretive session from various online providers, including Career-intelligence.com, DiscoverYourPersonality.com, My Life Coach, and YourLife'sPath.com. Costs for this tool vary greatly, depending on the version of the test you select (online vs. paper), the type and amount of counseling involved and whether the test is offered with another instrument.
Keirsey Temperament Sorter
[self-directed / free] This test, made available online by David Keirsey, is like a short MBTI exam. Answer all the questions, and you will get a 4-letter personality indicator as the result along with a short explanatory document. If nothing else, it might help you to understand how you react and interact with others. There is a fee for an optional 10-page personal analysis.
iMapMyLife.com
[self-directed / Fee] This an integrated inventory which measures your interests, strengths, support needs, and more. You can then take this and turn it into a career report with a few clicks. The fee covers the assessment itself and includes a detailed report. You have the option of purchasing personal phone sessions with a Career Coach billed at an hourly rate. This inventory is based on the Birkman Method, this rather detailed evaluation is designed to reduce the need for multiple assessments. Quintcareers.com gave it 3.5 stars out of a possible 4 and called it "easy" but they also noted it is time consuming, taking 30-40 minutes to complete. Yes, you can stop and go back to finish, but the assessment administrators recommend taking the time to do it in one sitting. There is a mini sample you can try.

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Interest Inventories

Interest inventories help you to measure those things that most interest you, hopefully finding a match between your interests and possible career areas. Most interest inventories include skills surveys. We have indicated if a tool is self-directed or requires assistance and if it is free or charges a fee for use.
What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press)
[self-directed / free] Updated annually, this book was called "one of the 25 books that have shaped reader's lives" by the Center for The Book at the Library of Congress. It is a guide to help you determine what you want to do and then how you want to go about accomplishing your desires. It is really one of the finest books written for job seekers as well as those just wanting to learn more about themselves. The recent editions have been completely revised, so if you last looked at Parachute a long time ago, it is time to look again. You can also visit Dick's JobhuntersBible.com online, but he recommends using this in conjunction with the book.
O*Net Interest Profiler from MyNextMove
[self-directed / free] Created by the National Center for O*Net Development for the USDOL Employment and Training Administration, this is an interactive tool where job seekers and students to learn more about their career options. The O*NET Interest Profiler consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and offers personalized career suggestions based on a person's interests and level of work experience, producing a RIASEC score which they can then use to help find occupations that match their interests. The site is simple to use, easy to navigate, and friendly to the youngest or even the most fearful computer user. Absolutely wonderful!
CareerKey
[self-directed / fee] This tool is designed to help match your interests and skills with similar careers. Developed by Lawrence K. Jones, Ph.D., and based on John Holland's RIASEC model, CareerKey is designed to "help you in choosing a career, a college major; changing a career; and career planning." Enter the section titled Your Personality to take the online test (nominal fee is charged), learn more about the test and Holland's theories, or to explore various careers. The inventory can be completed online very quickly. They have recently opened Career Key Canada which matches your preferences to specific resources and jobs for this country. They also offer the Career Key resources in some non-English languages, including Chinese, Spanish, and Korean (see links at the top of the front page). They've also announced an Arabic version, Morshed.org ("mentor"), along with a new Caribbean version. Contact the site for more information.
Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS) via USNews.com
Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS) via NCS Pearson
[self-directed / fee] "If you are interested in a career that requires some post-secondary education, the CISS® (Campbell Interest and Skill Survey) assessment can help point you in the right direction!" The CISS uses targeted questions and analysis to help you understand how you fit into the world of work. It has been used by career counselors for over 10 years and it is available to you on the Internet. The test is provided by NCS Pearson, a leading publisher of career assessments for nearly 30 years, and author David Campbell, Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert in the field of career exploration. The same test can be accessed from either of two gateways noted above. There is a fee for this test, and both gateways charge the same.
Career Test from CareerPlanner.com
[self-directed / fee] An online career test based on John Holland's RIASEC model and is easy to use. The results will delivered to you in as little as one hour or as long as 5 days, depending how much you want to spend, but the rate is reasonable. In addition to the career test, CareerPlanner.com, an online career testing / counseling / coaching service, offers numerous good career and job search articles and links to resources you will find useful.
FOCUS Career and Educational Planning
[self-directed / fee] This online assessment package actually includes an interest inventory, a skills survey, a personality assessment, and even a values inventory. It is useful for high school students, college students, and even adult workers, and the fee is quite reasonable. You do not need to complete the full assessment in one session.
MAPP - Motivational Assessment of Personal Potential
[self-directed / fee] MAPP is an interest survey, similar to the Strong Interest Inventory. They offer a Career Analysis designed to help you identify your preferences for people, things, and job content, and suggesting some jobs that match these preferences. This assessment is offered in five languages -- English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swedish - and it takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. It is a collection of 71 options, each consisting of 3 statements. You must indicate which statement you most prefer and which you least prefer. There is a free sample analysis you can try before purchasing one of their packages.
Self-Directed Search
[self-directed / fee] The SDS, developed by John Holland, can help you find careers or educational programs that match your own skills and interests. This fee-based assessment tool is very well-known and very popular among career counselors. The test takes only 15-20 minutes to complete online. After your payment is verified, your personalized report (based on your responses to the SDS questions) will appear on your screen. A sample report is available online. SDS is a product of PAR, Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.
Strong Interest Inventory
[self-directed / fee] According to publisher CPP, "The Strong measures your clients’ interests in a broad range of occupations, work activities, leisure activities, and school subjects." It is a widely-used tool in college career centers and other counseling situations. While it does not require interpretive assistance, reviewing the results with a trained provider is highly recommended. You can purchase this tool from various online providers, including career-intelligence.com, DiscoverYourPersonality.com, My Life Coach, and YourLife'sPath.com. Costs for this tool vary greatly, depending on the version of the test you select (the Strong has many variations for different audiences and needs), the type and amount of counseling involved, and whether the test is offered with another instrument. This table designed by Career-Intelligence.com will introduce you to the many Strong Interest Inventory assessment tools available.

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Skill Surveys

There are hundreds of skills surveys for specific job areas, but this list links to surveys designed to help you define your abilities and qualifications and then compare these lists to numerous job areas, including some you may not have previously considered.
Skills Center
[self-directed / free] Anyone can use the tools listed here, especially the Skills Profiler. The particular tool allows you to build a list of skills, then identify occupations that require your skills, and identify gaps in your skills and/or education for each occupation so you can get any necessary training to be most successful. Great for persons entering the workforce, students considering potential careers, or persons considering a jump from one occupational field or industry to another. One of the many helpful tools you can find at CareerOneStop.
What's Your Skillset, from career-intelligence.com
[self-directed / free] A nice article and worksheet designed to help you list your skills. Scroll down the page to the section titled "skills". Free registration is required to access this article and the accompanying worksheet.
iSeek Skills Assessment
Based on data from O*Net, the iSeeks Skills Assessment is a fairly simple tool that allows the user to rate him or herself on 35 different skills and then see what occupations match those skills identified as the being most important to the user. The entire tool takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete and the results are presented immediately upon completion, offering the user information on each career, how his or her skills match this profile, and the level of education or training usually required to perform this particular job. The user interface is relatively simple and should not pose a problem for persons with limited computer skills. You can print the results page, email it to someone or yourself, or (if you have a free iSeek account), you can save the results to your account.
Career Assessment Exercises, lifeworktransitions.com
[self-directed / free] This website is a companion to the book Life Work Transitions.com. Chapter 2 is dedicated to skills assessment, and the site includes several different skill surveys for you to complete and review.

After completing your Skill Survey, we recommend you use the Career and Occupational Guides to search for career fields that match your abilities and qualifications.

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Values Inventories

Values inventories are personal examinations of what motivates you and is important to you. These are not as well-defined tools as the Interest Inventories since they are so personal to you.
Tip: One career coach suggests that since it's hard for many people to say what they want make a list of what you didn't like in the past.
Soul Survival: Career Values from career-intelligence.com
[self-directed / free] Nice article and accompanying exercise to help you decide what is important to you in looking for a career or a new employer. Free registration is required.
Value Questionnaire
[self-directed / free] This questionnaire from the University of Minnesota at Morris Career Center offers you an easy way to think about what is most important to you and what you might do to change things that you don't like.

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Other Tools and Resources

Career Decision-making Difficulties Questionnaire (CDDQ)
[self-directed / free] This site was designed to provide individuals help in the process of making a career decision. There are 5 different tools the user can go through, each designed to assist him or her with the decision making process by guiding and providing feedback. I started with the CDDQ, which served to help me figure out why I'm having problems making a decision regarding a career (and making decisions in general), and the results suggested a course of action to follow, including which of the remaining 4 tools to use and the reason for each. It will also note if you really need the assistance of a licensed career counselor to help you in your personal exploration process. "The CDDQ is based on research performed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The Ohio State University by a team led by Profs. Itamar Gati and Samuel H. Osipow. The team specializes in studying career decision-making in general, including difficulties encountered when making career decisions, the strategies used and the compromises involved, and developing computer-assisted career guidance systems that facilitate the decision-making process." Career counselors will appreciate the supporting documentation.
Casey Life Skills
[self-directed / free] "Casey Life Skills (CLS) is a free tool that assesses the behaviors and competencies youth need to achieve their long term goals. It aims to set youth on their way toward developing healthy, productive lives. [...] CLS is designed to be used in a collaborative conversation between an educator, mentor, case worker, or other service provider and any youth between the ages of 14 and 21. It is appropriate for all youth regardless of whether they are in foster care, live with their biological parents, or reside in a group home." I must be clear here, this is not "self-directed" in that the client using this tool will get a set of results that he or she will understand. The counselor or coach working with the client is expected to review the results with the youth, but special training is not needed. Free resources are provided to help you turn these results into a learning plan for the individual. Providers need to register for a free account, and they will then establish accounts for their clients. You can preview a sample of the tool prior to registering and review their privacy policy at the same time. Provided by Casey Family Programs, the nation's largest operating foundation focused entirely on foster care and improving the child welfare system.
Manifest Your Potential
...a site filled with guidebooks, quizzes, and articles designed to help you find your potential and put it to good use doing work you love. The quizzes are designed to be fast, but you should always remember that these are not designed with "right" or "wrong" answers, just personal truths. However, you may find something here to help you define your feelings, which can be the first step to fixing problems.
3SmartCubes.com
...a collection of personality, IQ, and other online tests you can take. While many are free, you will need to register a name and email address to see your brief results, and if you want a more detailed report you will have to pay for full membership. I also cannot find anything that tells me who this company is nor who developed these assessments so use these with some caution and compare the results with other assessments that have been validated and are recognized by licensed or certified counseling professionals.

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