Since it was first published in 1970, What Color is Your Parachute? has been a go-to resource for any person seeking to unearth their true calling. The self-help book stresses that a career search doesn’t have to be disorganized or daunting, that with form and purpose, anyone can find the right match. Books like this provide substantive, helpful guidance that’s worth your time.
But with the invention of clickbait, the online world is flooded with sites, services, quizzes, and career tests that all promise to tell you what your perfect job would be. While personality tests and career quizzes aren’t a magic bullet, they can be helpful tools when you need focus in your career journey. You just have to be choosy and thoughtful in your approach.
Personality and Career Tests Give You Ideas
Numerous self-study resources have popped up over the years. The benefit of taking a personality test or career quiz is similar to reading What Color is Your Parachute? In gathering information about your traits, you may arrive at a moment of clarity when you discover where you fit, where you can stick that soft landing.
In April 2014, global learning institute Hyper Island surveyed more than 500 CEOs, managing directors and hiring managers. Seventy-eight percent felt that personality was the most important aspect in hiring, even over a candidate’s skill set (38 percent). Key personality traits listed were drive, creativity and open-mindedness.
Among the dozens of personality tests, five stand out:
- Big Five
- Occupational Interest Inventories
- DISC Behavior Inventory
- Situational Judgment Tests
Take one — or take several to give yourself a broad picture of your traits, and a clear foundation for action.
What Your Personality Type Reveals About Your Career
The Myers-Briggs test breaks down personality types into four categories, and reveals 16 possible combinations:
- Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I) — Do you look inward or outward for sources of energy?
- Sense (S) or Intuition (N) — Do you use experience and common sense to evaluate, or do you readily see the big picture and patterns?
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) — Thinkers are guided by logic and common sense; feelers rely on values and feelings.
- Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) — Judging types like structure; perceivers want a flexible environment.
Your traits can help you think through the types of work you enjoy. If you are an ENFP (Extroversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving), a career in accounting — where decisions are fact-based — would not be a good fit. Conversely, an ISTJ (Introversion, Sense, Thinking, Judging) might not gravitate toward a creative field.
Use Quizzes and Tests to Highlight Your Strengths
Career assessment tests measure psychology and personality — some even explore your color preferences. Your psychological type can predict a career choice that is a good fit for your personality, which jobs match your personality type and which careers you may have an aptitude for.
It can only be beneficial to know your skills, your weaknesses and your worth, but tests are not infallible; they are one metric, meant only as a guide. You can find a number of career tests online — from in-depth to easy, for a cost or free of charge.
The important thing is to set actionable goals in your self-assessment. Your intention should be to gain a better understanding of yourself and then to take ownership of where you want to go. Be as honest as possible; use career and skill tools and complete exercises when you’re calm and not distracted.
Start Fresh With “A Day in the Life”
When you’re seeking clarity about your career, it’s helpful to figure out where you truly find value during the workday. Ask yourself a tough question: what would my ideal workday look like?
You can visualize, talk through it with a friend or write it down. I found one exercise that provides prompts to help you think through what your perfect workday would include. In the assignment, you describe your day in great detail.
Ask yourself: how far do you commute? Do you gather with coworkers each morning to plan for the day? Do you work in a large corporate environment or a small business? How much do you interact with coworkers or clients/patients and how do you end your day? Once you’ve crafted your imagined perfect workday, you can audit your current reality and build a plan to improve it, bringing you closer to that perfect job.
Knowing your traits and your preferences can help you and employers understand your strengths and weaknesses, and how you might perform in a work setting.