The right career aptitude test can provide important insight for planning a midlife career change
Career aptitude tests, personality tests, and career interest inventories literally litter the career planning landscape. And while there is no question that the right career aptitude test or self assessment can provide a useful framework for thinking about a career choice or midlife career transition, with over 2,500 different career tests available, it can be daunting to figure out which one is likely to be best for you.
With this in mind, WhatsNext.com has made available a free, downloadable guide designed to help people select a career aptitude test that is best suited to their needs -- whether it be selecting their first career, making a midlife career change, or transitioning to a happy and productive retirement. Know Yourself: How to Find Wisdom and Insight from a Career Aptitude or Personality Test is a short, easy to digest monograph that provides an overview of some of the most highly regarded tests available on the market.
As the guide makes clear, not all career aptitude tests and personality tests get good grades. You can find many online quizzes on the internet that are little more than games. They may be fun and free but you will gain about as much insight from them as reading your horoscope. Quality tests are almost never free, and some of the more exhaustive ones can cost hefty sums. And while some career aptitude tests are self-directed, meaning you can take them and interpret them on your own, many require that you work with a qualified professional.
As a rule, the best career assessment test options are backed by scientific research showing that they are reliable and valid -- meaning that they actually predict what they are intended to predict. In general, you can find data about the validity of a career aptitude test on its website or in its test manual. If the test providers don't offer such information, you may want to look for another test -- especially if the one you are considering is expensive to take.
Know Yourself identifies a list of roughly a dozen excellent career aptitude test options that are likely to fit the needs of most individuals. The monograph goes into particular depth in its discussion of two particularly well known and trusted tests -- the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) -- which is primarily a personality test, and the Strong Interest Invtentory (SII) -- which assesses your work interests and suggests compatible careers. The two tests are often packaged together because they are highly complementary and provide feedback on different dimensions of an individual's career needs and work personality. When taken together they can provide extremely useful insight for those looking to find more satisfying and fulfilling ways to live and work One reliable resource for taking these tests is a website called PersonalityDesk.com, where the two tests in combination can be purchased for $99 -- including a one hour session to interpret the results with a trained professional.
In addition to Myers Briggs and the Strong Interest Inventory, the Know Yourself monograph provides summaries of other career aptitude tests, along with links to websites where those tests can be accessed. Here is a list of the career aptitude tests covered. (Click on any one to access more information):
In its final section, Know Yourself provides some useful tips for how to take a career aptitude test in order to get the most reliable results, as well has what to do with the findings once you have them in hand.
You can download a free copy of this guide by clicking here: Know Yourself: Finding Insight and Wisdom from a Career Aptitude or Personality Test.
The Life Values Self-Assessment Test Provides Valuable Insight and Data
WhatsNext.com recently launched a free online tool called the Life Values Self-Assessment Test (LVAT), a new instrument designed to help people get insight into how to order their life priorities. The test has been extremely well received, with over 1,000 people completing the exercise in just a matter of weeks. The feedback from the life and career coaching community has also been very positive, with several coaches writing to say they intend to use the LVAT with their clients as a tool in the personal coaching process. The LVAT is a free service available to anyone who visits the site and completes a simple registration. (To access the LVAT now, click on Life Values Self-Assessment Test.)
The engine of the Life Values Self-Assessment Test is a well established decision-making protocol for rank ordering preferences, which is applied to a list of eleven core values chosen explicitly for their relevance to individuals in mid-life transition. The tool works by presenting the participant with a series of paired comparisons in which each value is individually matched against each other value in a randomized sequence. Participants are asked to choose which of the two values presented is more important for them to focus on at this particular point in time in their lives. By analyzing the results of the resulting 55 paired comparisons, the tool calculates a rank order of the eleven values from most important to least important, and the results are then presented back to the participant.
Of course, individuals could rank order their values on a purely intuitive basis. However, the strength of the the LVAT is the systematic comparison of each value to each other value, which creates an engaging and intellectually stimulating experience for the participant while also producing a more objectively determined outcome.
The ranking of values and priorities that results from the LVAT provides a thought-provoking focal point for individuals who are dealing with the challenges of midlife career change or retirement transition. The ranking can also be used by coaches as a starting point for discussing life priorities with clients.
Patterns Revealed From Initial Test Results
While the LVAT is specifically designed as a tool to be used on an individual level, it is nonetheless interesting to look at the test results in aggregate and the window that those results provide into the priorities of men and women who are in the process of midlife transition.
- An analysis of the results of tests taken to date reveal that Financial Resources, Family, and Work Satisfaction are the top priorities for those individuals who have taken the test, while Leisure Activities, Leadership, and Public Service are at the bottom.
Rank Order of Priorities*
Average age: 50.8 yearsPercent male: 42.4%Percent female: 57.6%
| Overall Rank
|| Avg. Rank
||Home and Place
||Health and Fitness
Analyzing the test results by demographic segment reveals some interesting patterns:**Test Results by Age
- Overall, participants over 55 years old put a higher emphasis on Health/Fitness and Friends, while those under 55 put more importance on Family, Work Satisfaction, and Leadership.
Test Results by Gender
- Looking only at women, those over 55 place relatively more importance on Personal Growth and Leisure Activities, while younger women place more importance on Family. Among men, those over 55 place a higher priority on Health/Fitness and Friends, while those under 55 feel the need to focus more on Work Satisfaction and Home & Place.
- Men and women rank order priorities similarly, with the exception that men overall feel a greater need to focus attention on Personal Growth and women feel the need to focus more attention on Spirituality.
- When looking within age categories, women under 55 place a higher priority on Health/Fitness, Home & Place, and Spirituality than men in the same age group, whereas men place more importance on Leisure Activities. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in the way men and women rank order their priorities among the over 55 group.
*Click here for a list of definitions
- It is worth noting that while most values shifted rank between the various demographic sub-segments, Financial Resources was consistently the top priority on average for every segment measured. On an individual basis over 53% of test participants ranked Financial Resources in their top three priorities, while fewer than 3% ranked this value at the bottom of their list. This tells us that both men and women, regardless of age, see the need to maintain financial security as one of their top priorities.
of life values**Click here to access detailed results by demographic segment.
One of my goals in this blog is to make my readers aware of resources available in the market that can help to build self-awareness and plan a midlife career change or retirement transition. I recently came across a workbook that provides an excellent roadmap for planning just such a major life event.
The Discovering What Matters Workbook was created by The Metlife Mature Market Institute in conjunction with the highly regarded life coach, Richard Leider. Leider, who has written several best-sellers related to midlife transition, is founder and chairman of The Inventure Group, a coaching and consulting firm near Minneapolis. As a consultant and lecturer, he has worked with over 100,000 executives from 50 corporations worldwide. His most well known book, "Repacking Your Bags," has become something of a classic in the field and provides the groundwork for much of the material found in the Discovering What Matters Workbook.
The exercises included in Discovering What Matters were created to provide a self-guided process that would ultimately allow individuals to get greater clarity into their own personal priorities and bring their goals into a closer alignment with their individual vision of what represents "the good life."
Throughout the workbook, Leider uses the metaphor of "repacking," or realigning yourself with your true sense of purpose. The exercises are designed to be thought-provoking and to stimulate self-reflection. In essence, they are all designed to ask the question: What would you like to bring along with you on this next phase of your life journey? What would you like to leave behind?
Here's a quick rundown of the individual exercises in the process:
- The Life Spiral: Charting your life on an upward spiral. Gauging where you are in your life today and where you would like to be by the end of it so that you will consider your life to have been well lived.
- Trigger Sheet: Identifying 'trigger' experiences that have shaped your life story. These may include births, deaths, break-ups, emotional breakdowns, and career shifts. The aim is to identify and focus on the key life lessons from these events.
- The Good Life Inventory: An exploration of how your current lifestyle reflects your own personal vision of what makes up a good life.
- The Repacking Place: Here the focus shifts to physical location and the degree to which the place you live supports -- or detracts from -- the achievement of your life goals.
- How Much Is Enough: A practical scorecard that explores how much you need financially to live the lifestyle you aspire to, how much longer you will need to work, and whether you should consult a financial advisor to determine your financial needs.
- The Repacking Sounding Board: Here Leider discusses the importance of assembling a group of supportive friends and colleagues who can act as a wise counsel for you -- and what you should be looking for from them.
- What's Next: A prescription for how to follow through with the process to make sure that you apply the lessons from these exercised to achieving your goals.
Leider's set of exercises provides is one of the best tools I have seen for a self-guided process of personal discovery and life planning. It provides a structure for clarifying your life goals into concise, do-able actions, allowing you to see in simple terms what types of behaviors or situations demand realignment so that you can achieve your own personal hopes and dreams.
You can download this workbook free at Discovering What Matters at the MetLife Mature Market Institute's website.
No doubt about it -- we live in challenging times.
The economy is in turmoil... unemployment is hitting levels not seen in decades... and eighty million baby boomers are moving rapidly toward a stage of life that used to be called ‘retirement.' With all these forces at work, a growing number of people in midlife and reassessing the way they live and work and are looking for a better way.
Some of the people I'm referring to may be motivated by external forces - such as having lost a job. Others may simply have found that age and experience are leading them to pursue a life with more purpose and meaning. Still others may be hoping to find a better balance between work and the other elements of life that create a meaningful existence. Whatever the reasons, millions of Americans are looking to the future and thinking about making a change -- and in some cases a big change.
That's why we created WhatsNext.com.
The mission of WhatsNext.com is to provide information, inspiration, and resources to men and women who are pursuing a mid-life career change or life transition. To explore the site, visit our home page -- WhatsNext.com; on it you'll find links to a range of offerings that represent some of the key content and resrouce areas of the site, including:
Careers 2.0. A collection of real-life stories of career change that inform those who are looking for ideas and inspiration for making a career transition of their own. Careers 2.0 already includes over three dozen personal histories and is growing every day.
How-To Guides. A collection of instantly downloadable guides that provide detailed information and step-by-step advice on how to orchestrate various types of career change. These include a wide range of career options, from how to become a teacher to how to open a retail store to how to become a published author. Prices range from $4.95 to $29.95. Our free special report - Career Change and Life Balance - is available for free when you register for the site.
Find An Advisor. A searchable online directory with extensive listings of career coaches, life coaches, and financial advisors. Over time, this section of the site will become an increasingly valuable resource for individuals looking to find qualified, professional advice on all facets of life and work transition.
Your Financial Plan. An extensive library of articles and links to useful information -- specifically tailored to the needs of men and women at transitional moments in their lives.
Tools. Links to some of the most useful self-assessment instruments and financial planning calculators available on the web. WhatsNext.com is currently working on a set of original career and life planning tools that will be available for free. Look for them to come on stream in the second quarter of 2010.
DreamBlogs. First-hand thoughts, observations, and experiences posted by WhatsNext.com bloggers as they go through major changes in their own personal and professional lives.
This is just the beginning. As we continue to build the site, WhatsNext.com will be expanding the depth of content and the range of services that we provide. As we do, my colleagues and I will be using this blog to keep you updated on our plans for the site, as well as sharing with you information that I come across that is relevant to visitors to our site. In the meantime, I encourage you explore the site and email me with your thoughts, reactions and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you.
Jeremy Koch, Founder and Chairman