Should I Change Careers? These Tests Can Show You What Job You Should Actually Have
For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.
Whether you’re happy in your career, unhappy in it, or just kind of “meh” about it, odds are you’ve probably wondered idly at least once whether there were any tests that could tell you what job you should have. I mean actually tell you — something that would take out all the guess work and point you down a clear, concise path that leads to fulfillment and success. Alas, such a test doesn’t really exist. However, there are a number of legit tests and quizzes you can take that might tell you something you didn’t know about yourself — which, in turn, might help you figure out what sort of career you might really like to have.
“All too often, people go down a career path that they were nudged toward by a parent, family member, friend or by societal pressures and what they believed ‘success’ should look like,” Nicole Wood, CEO and founder of Ama La Vida, tells Bustle. “Rarely do people take the time to first reflect on who they are as an individual and how that relates to potential career paths. Naturally this can lead to people taking roles which aren’t a match for their skills and passions or organizations which aren’t a cultural fit. They often become disengaged, frustrated or unfulfilled by their work.” Accordingly, Ama La Vida encourages people to figure out their passions, their gifts, their values, and their non-negotiables; once you’ve made those determinations, it can be easier to figure out if you’re in the right job for you or whether it might be time to think about making a change.
Life coach Erica McCurdy also recommends doing some deep thinking if you’re considering changing up your career path. “Make a list of the most important short and long-term goals,” she suggests in email to Bustle. “Will these be able to be accomplished if a job or career change occurs? If you have specific goals and they would be put on hold if you changed jobs, think about which would feel worse — staying in your current job or failing to achieve your goals.” Notes McCurdy, “Knowing this often helps us feel better about either deciding to stay or deciding to make a change.”
But what if you don’t even know where to start when it comes to these big picture thoughts and ideas? That’s where tests and quizzes might come in handy. If you’re not sure what you value most in a job, they might help you figure that out. If you don’t know how you communicate with others, they might help with that, too. While of course no test can definitively tell you, “This is the job you should have,” they can help guide your thinking and your research process as you look into what you’re doing now and what you might like to do in the future.
You’re probably familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; it assigns takers one of 16 different personality types based on where they fall on four different traits: Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I), Sensing (S) or Intuiting (N), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). Although it’s a general personality type indicator, its practical uses are numerous; says McCurdy, "Myers-Briggs does a good job of shaping how we are and how we take in information and share information with others." It can also help you narrow down the types of jobs and fields that might be best suited to your type; here’s one example of that use in action, and here’s another.
I think it’s worth noting that your Myers-Briggs results aren’t necessarily fixed; we continue to change and grow as people our entire lives, so your type might very well evolve over time. To use a personal example, how I score on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator now, at age 32, is very different from how I scored when I was in high school; heck, it’s even different now from the last time I took it about three years ago: When I was a teenager, I was an INFP, or Introverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiver; in 2014, I was an INFJ, or Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judger; and now, I’m an INTJ, or Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judger. At some point when I was younger, I’m pretty sure I was classified as an extravert, too — so my point is that your Myers-Briggs type might very well change, which in turn might mean that the jobs that are best suited to you might change as well.
Take it here.
The Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS-II) bears some similarity to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; each of the personality types the KTS-II files its takers under correspond roughly with the Myers-Briggs types. There are four main Keirsey types, which then subdivide into more specific ones: Guardians, or Sensing Judging types; Artisans, or Sensing Perceiving types; Idealists, or Intuitive Feeling types, and Rationals, or Intuitive Judging types. The biggest difference between the KTS-II and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the fact that Myers-Briggs tends to focus more on how people think and feel, while Keirsey focuses more on behavioral patterns.
Interestingly, although my latest Myers-Briggs results pegged me as an INTJ, the Keirsey inventory sorted me as an Idealist — the NF, or Intuitive Feeling, personality, rather than the NT, or Intuitive Thinking, personality. More specifically, that means I’m either a Counselor (INFJ) or Healer (INFP) according to the KTS-II. If I were going by my Myers-Briggs type, however, I’d be a Rational type (the NT type), with my subset being Mastermind (INTJ).
As is the case with Myers-Briggs, knowing your Keirsey type can help you figure out what kinds of jobs might be best suited to your personality. Info on good jobs for Artisans can be found here; for Guardians, try here; for Idealists, this should help; and for Rationals, try here.
Take it here. (When your score is in, click on “mini-report” to see your basic results for free.)
In 2016, TIME worked with George Washington University’s Workplaces and Virtual Environments Lab to create a 20-question interactive which first asks you about the kinds of activities you enjoy or don’t enjoy doing, then compares those interests with a database of almost 1,000 job profiles to see which jobs you might like doing the most. The questions all relate to the RIASEC score — a measure that assesses takers for six personality traits: Realistic (that is, people who are“doers”), Investigative (“thinkers”), Artistic (“creators”), Social (“helpers”— hi there, Mr. Rogers!), Enterprising (“persuaders”), and Conventional (“organizers”). The RIASEC score was originally created by John Holland in 1959 with the goal of matching people’s interests and abilities with jobs that might make use of those interests and abilities. The U.S. Department of Labor actually started using RIASEC in 1999 to create “occupational interest profiles,” according to TIME.
Take it here.
They’re BuzzFeed quizzes, so they’re probably not going to provide you with much practical job-seeking insight; they are, however, a lot of fun. The first one will tell you what kind of career you should have (I got “The Straightforward Career,” which is interesting, as my career has generally been anything but straightforward), while the second will give you an actual profession to pursue (somehow, I scored “Surgeon,” which... I have questions about). Do with the results what you will.
Remember when I said that the Department of Labor has started using the RIASEC measure in 1999 to create job interest profiles? This is that tool. Developed by the National Center For O*NET Development and sponsored by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, My Next Move asks you to rank 60 activities on how much you think you’d enjoy doing them. These activities could range from “painting sets for a play” to “develop a spreadsheet using computer software.” Answering these 60 questions creates your Interests Profile, which tracks how high your scores are for each of the RIASEC categories.
What I like about this one is that once you’ve got your Interests Profile, you can actually explore any and all options at will — you can browse the individual RIASEC categories, sorting each one by levels of preparation and training required for the jobs listed. It’s an incredible handy tool that will help immeasurably with concrete career path research.
Take it here.
Emotional intelligence, often referred to as one’s emotional IQ or shortened to EQ, describes how well someone can recognize their own and others’ emotions, manage those emotions, use them as factors to consider when making decisions, and adjust emotions as needed in order to achieve certain goals. One of the most easily accessible measures of EQ is the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test, which, happily, is available to take online for free.
Although you can of course get by at work without a great deal of EQ — and, conversely, although a high EQ can be useful in just about any job or field — folks on either end of the spectrum might be better suited to some jobs than others. Having a high EQ, for example, is a major plus for jobs that require a great deal of face time with clients or a lot of dealing with people; meanwhile, if you don’t score particularly highly on any of the various EQ scales and measures, you not only probably won’t excel at roles that involve a lot of interpersonal relationships, but moreover, you probably won’t be happy in those kinds of roles, either.
This piece on HubSpot has a pretty thorough rundown of how EQ can relate to your professional life; additionally, this piece might help you figure out how to fit EQ into your career planning process. It’s also worth bearing in mind that having a high EQ can come with some limitations when it comes to your work life, too — head here for more on that. And for the curious, here are a few specific jobs that might be good for people with high EQs.
Take the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test here.
Or, take a simple 10-question inventory here.
OK, yes, the Princeton Review is a test prep company, so the career quiz on its website is geared more toward people who are just about to start or are still in the midst of their education. That said, though, it can also be useful if you’re, say, thinking of making a career change. It presents you with a series of either/or questions and asks you to choose the answer you most identify with; these questions might be anything from “I would rather be a wildlife expert” vs. “I would rather be a public relations professional” to “It is wise to make it known if someone is doing something that bothers you” vs. “It is wise to remain silent if someone is doing something that bothers you.” Then, it categorizes you as one of four color types: Red, or “expediting”; green, or “communicating”; blue, or “planning”; and yellow, or “administrating.”
The results include a paragraph about what sorts of job responsibilities and occupations are likely to be enjoyed by each color type’s interests, as well as one about what your working style is like (that is, what your strengths in the workplace are); you can also click over to a second tab for a big, long list of jobs at which your color type tends to excel. I ended up filed under blue, and truthfully, that’s pretty accurate; I do enjoy creative, thoughtful types of activities, and the list of jobs had a lot of options that are very appealing to me — including what my job actually is.
Take it here.
There are a lot of career-planning assessments available at MyPlan; you have to pay to get the results for a lot of them, but the Work Values Assessment is free, and honestly, it might be one of the most useful tests there. This one takes a unique format, too: It presents you with 20 (virtual) cards on which are written statements that might finish the sentence, “In my ideal job, it is important that…” These statements can be anything from “…I make use of my abilities” to “…I have supervisors that train their employees well.” Your task is to drag and drop all 20 cards into five columns depending on how important they are to you, with the four most important statements filling column five and four least important statements filling column one.
Your results tell you how much weight you put toward each of six different “work values clusters”: Achievement, Independence, Support, Working Conditions, Recognition, and Relationships. For example, I put a ton of weight on the Achievement cluster, scoring a full five on it (once an overachiever, always an overachiever), which means I would do well to look for jobs that let me use the best of my abilities and allow me to “see the results of my efforts directly.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, that is exactly what my job actually lets me do, so clearly I have chosen my career path well.
While it’s true that this particular assessment won’t straight-up tell you what jobs or fields you should look into, knowing what you value both in your work itself and in your work environment can be incredibly useful. If you discover, for example, that you value independence, you probably won’t be super happy in jobs or fields that require a lot of supervision or management of other people; however, you’ll likely quite enjoy jobs or fields that let you work on your own most of the time.
Take it here.
Offered through Gallup, the Clifton StrengthsFinder is "one of the best ones," according to Erica McCurdy. "For about $20-$25, you can purchase the StrengthsFinder book with an assessment code," McCurdy says. "The assessment identifies your top five natural strengths and the book gives you a simple breakdown of each. You are also given a report that analyzes your strengths in both a positive and a negative way."
The assessment is helpful because your strengths come to you easily. "If you can recognize times when you leaned into these strengths, you can begin to see common threads both at work and in life that might open your eyes to new opportunities, and, more importantly, give you a new way to talk about yourself to a potential employer in a new industry."
Take it here.
I mean, not really. But they are awfully fun — and sometimes they actually are surprisingly accurate: I tend to get “Daily Prophet Journalist” on pretty much every one I take. Occasionally, though, there are surprises: Sometimes I learn I should train as an Auror, and on one occasion, I was delighted to discover I should be a Wandmaker.
Here are a couple to get you started:
- What Job Would You Have In The Harry Potter Wizarding World?
- Which Harry Potter Career Should You Have?
- What Job Would You Have In The Harry Potter World?
- What Job Would You Have In The Wizarding World?
- What Would Be Your Career In The Wizarding World?
Says Nicole Wood to Bustle, “Once you have clarity around the right career path, you need courage to make the change. It can be very scary to make a career transition, especially if that transition is to something non-traditional or a departure from society’s typical definition of success.” It’s true that you’ll need to really commit to your new path — but, as the saying goes, you do you. It’s true in more situations than you might expect.