Assessment as a Tool for Career Confidence and Communication in the Job Search Process
By Amy Gazaway, Student Success Coordinator for Oklahoma State University
ISFJ. Gold and blue. A Guardian. A Protector. Responsibility, focus, achiever, learner, relator. While the outcomes of personal assessments may yield some interesting letters and words, the deeper meaning behind assessment results provide an immense value to job seekers in helping them identify opportunities that fit and communicate with confidence about their most valuable qualities.
Even Socrates asserted the importance of assessment when he said, “Know thyself,” and one of the important benefits of assessment results is that they provide a lens through which job seekers can better evaluate opportunities for compatibility with who they are. The more aware a job seeker is about his or her personal qualities, the easier it is for the job seeker to determine if a job or an employer will “fit.” For example, if a job seeker has affirmed innate preferences for structure, order and routine as identified by an assessment and an opportunity arises that requires little structure, constant variation, and spur-of-the-moment decision-making, the job seeker would easily be able to discern that the specific positon with the specific employer is not a good match for his or her talents and preferences. Effectively evaluating fit is important to both employees and employers because fit is linked to higher job satisfaction, greater employee engagement, improved work performance, fewer sick days and occupational accidents, as well as greater customer satisfaction and increased profits. A great match between an employee and a position or employer creates a “win-win” situation for both.
Another benefit of assessments for job seekers lies in the detailed explanations provided as a part of the assessment outcomes. These outcomes empower job seekers with the descriptive language necessary to effectively communicate their talents, skills, personality preferences and other qualities to key influencers and decision-makers throughout the hiring process. The expressive language may be incorporated into job seekers’ resumes, cover letters, and applications as well as communicated verbally throughout interview processes. Using the language associated with affirmed personal qualities as a part of job search communication elevates job seekers’ self-confidence and provides employers with a more accurate and distinct concept of the candidate’s value as an applicant and a potential new hire.
So what exactly is an assessment? An assessment is a tool that may be used to gather and organize that self-knowledge, such as personality traits, interests, abilities, talents, values, needs, desires, and other factors. Unlike a “test,” responses to assessment questions are neither right nor wrong. If answered in a genuine manner, the assessment outcomes will be what Merriam-Webster defines as “an opinion or idea” about oneself. However, those outcomes must be personally validated or affirmed for an assessment to be useful. If the individual taking the assessment does not believe the “opinion or idea” is an accurate representation of self, then the assessment used may not be the best tool to contribute to his or her self-understanding.
The range of assessment options is almost as broad as the diversity of outcomes they produce, but not all assessments are created equal. When considering options, look into who developed the assessment and the theoretical or research background. Other factors to consider include the recommended demographic for use, and the publication quality or the functionality of the application, if web-based. The best assessments have a high level of validity, meaning the assessment measures what it is intended to measure, and their outcomes are reliable or consistent when the assessment is taken repeatedly. In short, an interactive quiz within a social media newsfeed is not the same as a professionally published, research-based personal assessment. If unsure about how to identify a reputable assessment, a career guidance or human resources professional can likely provide some specific assessments to consider.