A career assessment is a tool (similar to a test) that is used within career development and career management programs. These tests are designed to help people see how their skills, interests, values, and more will impact their careers and lifework. These various factors actually play a part in the success and satisfaction of a person in their career and work environment. The general goal of these types of assessments and tests are to help people make better informed decisions about their paths in life.

There are many different types of tests and assessments used in career development exercises. The ones most useful to you will vary based on personal beliefs regarding what is most important for you to take a look at. Every individual has unique needs when it comes to their career and lifework. There can be several different points that vary between tests and people's goals and objectives. These points of variance relate to methodology, measured attributes, validity and target customer profile. Below is a brief description of the types of variance that can be seen when comparing tests and those who have already done assessments.

In terms of methodology, there are assessments that are qualitative in nature, and others that are quantitative in nature. Some of the different attributes that get measured can include personal interests, aptitude or skills and even values. They vary greatly depending on the type of career development assessments taken.  The tests can also vary based on target customer profile. Some tests are designed to be all-encompassing and to serve broad markets, while others are more narrowly defined and intended for specific types of individuals. Thus explaining exactly what is involved in a career assessment is very hard to pin down. The diverse nature of the exercise makes it hard to provide insight on the details of exams an individual might take.

Another point of variance when it comes to career assessments is the validity of the tests themselves. Many assessments (especially ones offered free online) lack validity. This means that the interpretation of the results and the decisions made from the results may not be entirely useful in guiding one’s career path. It’s important to assess the test and determine whether it is making valid observations or frivolous ones. Give weight to each of the results in terms of how useful they may be in guiding your career.

Despite these points of difference and the uncertainty related to the validity of the assessments, there are many benefits that are outcomes of the tests. It’s a useful exercise in that it can provide you with insight in your career choice, your goals, your skills and your passions. Do not discount these career development tools altogether, but be careful of the way you implement any decision making based on them. This will ensure you stay on the right path and work towards your ultimate goals – whatever they happen to be.