How Can a Skill-Based Career Assessment Help You Choose a Career?

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  • 0:03 Skills Assessments
  • 1:38 What They Tell You
  • 2:59 What They Don't Tell You
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Skills assessments, also called aptitude tests, are sometimes used to help people find a career based on what they are good at. In this lesson, we'll examine skills assessments in more detail, including what they do and don't tell you.

Skills Assessments

Nora is a sophomore in college and all her friends know what they want to do when they are finished with school. Several of them are already applying to internships and doing research on their chosen careers. But Nora just doesn't know what she should do.

Nora might consider taking one of the many types of career assessments, or surveys, or tests, that help a person figure out what careers they are well-suited for. By going to her college's career center, she is likely to find several assessments that let her figure out what she wants to do, what she's interested in, and what she's good at.

One type of career assessment that Nora can take is a skills assessment, also sometimes called aptitude tests or ability tests. These are tests that attempt to measure a person's skills or abilities. The most famous career skills assessment is called the Career Ability Placement Survey, or 'CAPS' for short. It measures what a person, like Nora, is good at and then tells her what careers she might be well-suited for.

For example, perhaps after taking the CAPS, Nora discovers that she is good at spatial reasoning. That is, she can see how objects can fit together in a 3-dimensional space. She might be good at architecture because that's a skill that is important for architects to have.

But how good are skills assessments at matching a person with a career? Let's look closer at what skills assessments can and cannot tell you about your abilities and possible careers.

What They Tell You

Now that she's taken the CAPS, Nora knows that she's good at spatial reasoning and might make a good architect. The strength of aptitude tests is that they can match your skills with jobs. There's probably not a whole lot that will be a big surprise to Nora as far as what her skills are. After all, if she's a grumpy-pants all the time and doesn't get along well with others, she's probably not going to be surprised to find out that she didn't score high on people skills!

But what is different about aptitude tests is the part where they link your skills with careers. Knowing that her spatial reasoning might be good for an architect to have is something that Nora might not have thought of before. Likewise, finding out what careers she should avoid because they require her to be sociable could be a boon to her job search.

Skills assessments also tell you two things other things: they tell you what you have a natural talent for and what talents you have developed. Unfortunately, it can't tell you which talent is natural and which is developed. For example, there's no way to know if Nora's spatial reasoning skills are a natural gift, something she learned at some point in her life, or a combination of both. Still, at the end of a skills assessment, you'll have a list of your talents and careers that match up well to them.

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