It would be wonderful if career development professionals could just gaze into a crystal ball and discern the best path for each person. While most professionals bring with them a wealth of personal and professional knowledge and education, career planning is a complex thing to navigate even under the best of circumstances.

Numerous career assessments abound on the Internet. If you’re a young adult, you may not realize that career development is still a fairly new field in the realm of human development. One pillar in the field, John Holland, first introduced his theory, known as the Holland Codes, in 1959. Through timely revisions, the Holland Codes are still helpful today as a piece of validating information.

While career counseling was initially used in the military for vocational counseling, it was quickly embraced in education and then marketed to the general public when the rise of self-help books became widely acceptable. One of the best-known of these books, What Color Is Your Parachute?, was introduced in the 1970s by Richard Bolles and has since became a staple in the career development field. Sold as a self-help tool for career seekers, it is still being updated and published today.

In the early 2000s, Do What You Are arrived on the scene. Representing a new kind of self-help book, it used personality type theory to help readers identify strengths and talents unique to the 16 types described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Since its release, the book has become a time-honored tool in assisting those seeking career planning clarification.

Shortly to follow was the Do What You Are® online career assessment developed by Human eSources. This relatively brief assessment allows the client to answer behavioral questions in a situational context. The results are compiled into a detailed report offering personality-based categories of insights for self-awareness. There is also a career database for researching occupational suggestions that are matched to the personality type results. The information is relevant and practical for those exploring or planning a career path. When coupled with support from a talented educational or career professional, the result is layers of depth for self-awareness that are very empowering to the client. 

Many tools now crowd the career planning space. It’s critical to select a tool that resonates with your needs and philosophy. With the amount of information out there and access readily available, it’s easy to become inundated and overwhelmed. So let me offer a few tips I’ve discovered over the past 20-plus years as a career consultant.

  • Review assessments and programs with a discerning eye. Does it sound realistic and practical in its approach? Can it offer me deeper levels of self-awareness? Are the results easy to understand and integrate into a career strategy?
  • If integration is the key, I want to maximize the results into a realistic career plan of action.
  • Lastly, is it affordable and economically feasible for the budget?

I tend to like tools that are relatively simple for clients to understand with concepts that can be validated and applied. If an assessment requires hours of testing or learning a new vocabulary of jargon, is that something the client will remember and refer back to for years to come? Probably not. I also gravitate towards assessments that offer differing perspectives of the individual so as to create a multi-dimensional approach to the person.  

Remember, the road to empowerment is about self-discovery in developing and realizing your full potential. Realization of that goal takes time, effort and reflection. Ongoing evaluation at every opportunity is critical in tweaking the plan as the individual experiences life and growth. Often if you can couple that with an experienced professional, you will have a recipe for career success.