Beware of Harmful Career Tests
it is true. You can be harmed by career assessments on
the Internet. They can tell you that you are one thing
when you are actually something else. Worse, they can match
you with jobs, training programs, or College majors that
don't fit you.
For example, the test might report that your highest score
is for the Artistic personality type when actually it is
Enterprising -- a very different personality!
This is what happens to people taking a career test by the US Department of Labor called the O*NET Interest Profiler.
How do we know this? It is what their research
Can you imagine how those Enterprising people feel when
they take the Interest Profiler and they are told that they
should consider Artistic careers? What happens if they actually
follow the Profiler's direction and choose to enter an Artistic
career or training program that does not fit them?
The Interest Profiler does not measure what it is supposed to measure. It is an invalid career test.
To make matters worse, the Interest Profiler has been adopted by many government agencies; and, companies (in the U.S. and Canada) package it in their online career and college guidance products they sell to schools, colleges, and libraries.
In other words, thousands of students (and their parents) are being told their interests are something they are not, and are directed toward programs of study and college majors that do not fit their personality.
Some recommend using “informal assessments” “just for exploration”. This is unsound even in the junior high school years -- when students’ RIASEC interests are fairly stable (Tracey, Robbins & Hofsess, 2005), and they and their parents are beginning to make serious decisions about future schooling.
Unfortunately, most of the career tests on the Internet are pseudo-measures. They go by a variety of names, like: sorter, finder, quiz, survey, zone, path, and color. They are also a part of web-based career guidance systems sold to schools, states, and other organizations. (Disclaimer: The Career Key® licenses its career assessment.)
Valid career measures require years of scientific study. The results are reported in scientific journals and included in a professional manual for the test. This takes time and money.
You can click here to download a recent article on this issue.
can you do?
- Check to see if there is an online professional manual, like The
Career Key. That is a good sign.
- If you or your child is in a school that subscribes to an online educational or career guidance system, ask the principal or school counsellor if the there are published studies in scientific journals that support the validity of the career measure it uses.
- Be wary of endorsements by professional organizations or links from their web
pages. Unfortunately, they are often unreliable.
- Use a valid measure. Besides The Career Key, the following are valid measures of Holland's interests/personality types: Vocational Preference Inventory, Self-Directed Search, Strong Interest Inventory, Campbell Interest and Skills Survey, and ACT's UNIACT.
in mind that no test can tell you what to do. They
can help you:
promising careers, training programs, or college
a good decision.
- Seek the help of a professionally
trained career counsellor who recognizes the importance
of test validity.