OPINION | Career assessment tests are missing the mark

Kaitlyn Peterson, a sophomore population health major from Idaho Falls, Idaho questions a recent career test suggesting dental hygiene as a career. Relying only on personality tests for career decisions can be misleading as overlooking skills, education and genuine interest may lead individuals astray in their career exploration. Abigail Byington| Sun News Daily

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Have you ever wondered why career assessments are presented in classrooms? The simplest answer is that they shouldn’t be. 

We’ve all endured the pain of sitting in a classroom and having a lecture based on finding your path in life and what career best suits you. We’ve experienced taking a career assessment and getting results that are nowhere near accurate to our lives or what we want to do.  

Career assessments aren’t accurate, and they shouldn’t be suggested to students because they provide more confusion than direction. They make students question their chosen fields and if what they are currently doing is right for them.

I took a career assessment that Utah Tech University Career Services provides as a resource. It’s called Focus2, which is one of the free assessments available. Some tests cost money, and it is absurd to think that someone would pay $15 to “explore occupations based on your interests.” 

According to the Utah Tech Career Services website: “Focus2 is a self-paced career guidance tool designed to help you select a major, clarify your career goals, and provide you with valuable major and occupational information. This tool is perfect for students in beginning stages of their career exploration.”

I do not agree with this statement. Focus2 will not clarify your goals. It will only make you confused about the plethora of options it suggests.

After taking the Focus2 work interest assessment, the results present jobs based on the user’s answers to the questions.

Examples of questions on the Focus2 assessment

Questions contain interests like writing, teaching and analyzing data. You use a five-star scale to rate the degree you would enjoy doing each task. However, the questions feel random and out of place. I would rather take a BuzzFeed personality test than a career assessment. At least BuzzFeed quizzes are enjoyable.

Based on my answers, my top careers are aquarium curator, architect, editorial writer, newspaper writer and poet. The latter three are my most suggested fields. 

While editorial writer and newspaper writer align with my career aspirations, aquarium curator and architect are nowhere near my hobbies and passions. I don’t understand how aquarium curator and editorial writer can even fit in the same sentence, let alone be two career options based on my interests. 

I realize some students who are currently going to school have no idea what they want to do, and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with that. But career assessments don’t align your interests with career options in an efficient way.

To those of you who know what you want to do and understand what careers align with your interests, don’t take to heart what career assessments offer. They don’t know you personally, and they don’t know how complex your interests are. 

For those who are struggling with figuring out what career you want to pursue, visiting your career coach at Utah Tech is far more effective than any career assessment could be. Sitting face-to-face with a qualified professional gives them an idea of what your personality is like, which will then help them help you. Career assessments should never be your first choice when figuring out what to do with your future occupation.

Students, listen to your gut. If you know what you want to do as a career, go for it. Don’t let a silly test make you question your passions and redirect you to a career you don’t want. As the great comedian Jim Carrey once said: “It is better to risk starving to death than surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?”