When you are stuck in your career one of the main questions you may have is:
What purpose do I have or What is my passion or What career will fulfill me?
This is normal because after working many years in the same (boring or unfulfilling) job, it can be hard to remember what truly lights you up and where you are good at.
Here personality tests can help you to kick-start knowing which career option fit you, what you care about at work and where your strength are.
But there are so many (bad) personality tests out there and you should only use the ones that really help you.
Read on to find out why should not use (or pay) for the most popular personality tests (MyersBrigg, DISC) but instead use science backed personality tests instead. They are free and will tell you how you tick, what your strengths are and how think or deal with success.
How personality tests Can help you when you are stuck in your career
No personality test will find the ‘dream job’ or ‘the purpose of your life’ for you. But they can tell you 1) what matters to YOU, 2) where your strengths are, 3) what you should look for when you want to find a job that fits you, and 4) how you can develop your skills to move forward.
And the clearer you are about you, the easier it will be to know what position to move into. In the end you design your purpose by developing passion in your career after knowing what fulfills you.
So it is Not:
Purpose → Career Passion → Fulfilling work
Fulfilling work → Career passion → Purpose
The problem is that there are so many personality tests out there that simply don’t work. So at best the results will simply be useless at worst they may set your work-life in a direction that is completely wrong and limits you (“I am a blue type of person so I should not work in sales”).
CAREFUL: DON'T PAY FOR PERSONALITY TESTS
The most famous tests (the MBIT, DISC or the ENEGRAM) dont work but they want to sell you fancy reports with nice graphs. They are used by millions of employees in thousands of companies, but when it comes down to really being useful and helping you to find your personality strength, science clearly tells us they don’t work. At best they simply don't describe you at worst they put you into a career box so you stop even trying growing.
The good news is that there are 3 personality tests that clearly work. They not only tell you how you tick, but they can tell your strength at work, what fulfils you and how you should think about success. And the best news is that they are completely free.
Below I list 3 personality tests that you can use if you are stuck in your career. You will also see when you should use them. I tested them in-depth when I created a new AI based assessment to measure change (patent pending).
3 Personality Tests you need to know when you transition Careers
Big 5 - How do you work, think and interact with others
The Big-5 is the probably the personality tests with the strongest scientific support. It shows you five basic dimension that underlie how you interact with others and behave.
Compared to other pop psychology personality tests (MBIT) it does a very good job predicting which type of personality are more likely to perform across different work situations. It also does not put you into fixed boxes but gives you much more detail on how much you fare on a dimension.
For example, bad personality tests would say you are social or not, the Big five would tell you if you a bit social, quite social or very social.
It will tell the degree of your:
- Openness - How open you are to new ideas and experiences
- Conscientiousness - How goal-directed, persistent, and organized you are
- Extraversion - How much you are energized by the outside world
- Agreeableness - How much you put others' interests and needs ahead of your own
- Neuroticism - How sensitive you are to stress and negative emotional triggers
The Big-Five is a perfect starting point when you are completely stuck at work or when you want to understand why you behave so differently in situations than others. There is not good or bad, no right type. But only your type, and your work should fit to your personality traits as they are quite stable.
Use the Big-5 to:
- Find out how you tick - so you can ask for your needs, connect more easily, and optimize your work behavior.
- Discover your natural work style and decide where NOT to work
- Uncover why you seem to face the same roadblocks or challenges over and over again (e.g. you forget small details not because you are broken but because you are low in conscientiousness, that’s just you)
VIA Character Strengths - What are your natural strengths and what tasks fulfill you?
If you wonder what you true strengths are and what aligns to your passion then use the VIA Character strengths survey.
The test measures what comes naturally to you and what activities you like to do. By knowing your key strengths, you can check how your current job or future career aligns. If not, then probably you should not choose this career as most likely you will be miserable. On the other hand, once you know your core strengths, you can then look for positions that fit them.
For example, some of my strengths are creativity, optimism, kindness and perseverance.
When I was working as an analyst in the competitive banking industry, I could not use any of these strength. Don’t be optimistic as banks may go bankrupt, details are needed nor creativity and kindness is a sign of weakness. A complete mismatch.
Knowing your character strengths can also help you boost your wellbeing by intentionally using some strength more in your work life. Often, we are so stuck in our daily jobs with tasks that we simply forgot what we like to do.
Once you know your top 5 strengths you can check how much you currently use them and then plan some small activities to use them at work..
Use the VIA Character Strength to:
- Find out what lights you up and improve your daily wellbeing
- Understand why you feel stuck in your current job or career track
- Have a starting to point to find a career that you are passionate about as it aligns to your strength
PRO TIP: Use the results for your interview Prep
All tests can also help you for the classic :
“Tell me more about yourself question” or “your 3 strengths and weaknesses questions”.
No need to hide it or feel awkward because you will know your true ways of thinking, working and interacting with others. Write them down in three bullets and practice mentioning them. E.g. I am not detailed oriented but thinking in big pictures.
Your Mindset – How you think and deal with success or failure
With this test you can find out how you see your current character, intelligence, and skills. In short it measures if you have a fixed or growth mindset.
If you have a fixed mindset you believe you are rather fixed and you cant change in any meaningful way. If you are successful it is because you are this way (gifted) and if you fail it is because you as a person lack something. Therefore you will continue things you are good at and avoid failure at all costs.
If you have a growth mindset you believe your skills and talent can be developed and improved, through hard work, good strategies, and input from others. Your success if because you worked hard for it and your failure is not because you are broken but because at the moment you are not there yet.
The bad news is that your mindset is determined early in life and pretty stable. However, the good news is that your mindset is formable and with the right mental exercises you can change the view your see yourself.
And if you want to be successful long-term research is clear that the best way to go about it is to develop a growth mindset. You will start seeing your career struggles not as “you being weak” but as “a sign you did not learn or master” the right tools yet.
Use the Mindset Test to:
- Understand how you see your own failures or successes
- Find out why you don’t want to do hard things or play safe for big career goals
- Discover how you can deal with failure, so you don’t stay knocked down for long
A New Personality test: Your Motivation Style
A rather new personality assessment is the regulatory focus assessment. Instead of finding out WHO you are, it tries to answer WHY you are doing things in the first place, then HOW you work best on important goal and finally WHAT you can do to best achieve your goals.
Below a quick summary:
When you think about an important goal such as Climbing a mountain, do you?
See the top of the mountain and forget the steps
You are playing to win, meaning you want to achieve big goals to grow but donw care that much about risks.
See all the steps you need to take but forget the top
You are playing not to loose, meaning you want to make sure you fulfill your important goal as you feels its your duty, but you may be too careful.
See the top and all the steps you need to take
You try to balance both, meaning you try to achieve the big goals while ensuring you do it right but you may be overwhelmed where to start.
Conclusion: These 3 science backed personality tests can kick-start your career transition
That’s it. These are the only 3 (4) personality tests you will really need in your career choices.
Use them to get a direction in knowing where to move next in your career, or simply to find out how you can use your strength better so you continue growing your career.
Let me know in the comments, which test you need most in your career growth?