What if there was a test that told you what you should do with your life? What if it told you whether you will pass your degree, where you will end up living, if you get married and have children, if you travel, when you die etc. Would you want to know? A lot of people do want to know this, which is how psychics earn a living, but seriously, would you?

Now what about your career? Or, more specifically, would you like to do a test that told you what would be the perfect job for you? Many people do and, even more so, some people expect this when they go to see a career counsellor. This is a re-hash of several conversations I have with clients:

Client: Yeah I need some careers help

Me: Sure thing, what would you like to discuss?

Client: What job I can do based on what I’m studying

Me: It sounds like an appointment with one of our career consultants will be a good idea so that you can discuss and explore your…

Client: I thought I could just take a test?

Me: A test?

Client: Yeah, a test that tells me what job I can do

There are indeed several career ‘tests’ that you can take that will suggest certain occupations. Some have proven psychometric qualities and others… not so much. The thing I am pondering is why do people think a test will provide the answer? Can a computer or a paper and pencil test tell you how skilled you are at something? If you’ll like your duties? If you’ll like the environment?  All of these factors influence job happiness and, unless I missed something, a test can’t tell you this. Which is why I respond to clients:

Me: Unfortunately there is no test that will tell you what you should do. We do however have some assessments/inventories/questionnaires/exercises that will help you explore which direction might be best for you and then you will talk over the results with a career consultant.

A lot of people don’t expect this. They look at me mournfully and say “I don’t have time to explore, I need to earn money now!”  Ah yes, time. We exist in a world where people are used to instant gratification and so people don’t expect it could take a while to figure things out.  Given you’ll be spending at least 40 years of your life (give or take) working, don’t you think you should invest some time in making the right career decisions? 

People also need to expect that you will have to put in some work to make things happen . This is YOUR life, not the career counsellor’s. They will guide/facilitate/suggest but you must take responsibility. Otherwise you’ll be in the exact same place in 6 months time.

Finally, you will also need to expect change. Your life will change and therefore your career may change. A career counsellor cannot predict these changes (alas they are not psychics) therefore the decision you made at 18 with the help of a career counsellor may not apply when you hit 40. Seeing a career counsellor at different times in your life, even if it’s just to check “am I happy?”, is something to consider.

So, to sum up, if you’re going to see a career counsellor expect that an assessment (test) may help but it certainly won’t tell you THE job for you. It could take longer than you think to explore your options and remember that these options may change over time. Gone are the days when a job was for life. Life can be unexpected so use the professionals that exist in your area for careers and other life issues. And remember, lucky Victoria University students, you can come see us at Vic Careers

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  1. I enjoy the information on your web site. Thanks a ton!

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