One of the most frequent questions I get from parents is "how can I best help my teen figure out a career path?"
There are several tools that can help, but I always recommend starting with personality or strengths tests. There are a variety of options, but ultimately a personality or strengths test is a short quiz (taking anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending upon the exam) that provides a categorization of characteristic patterns of behavior that might be exhibited in different scenarios. Obviously these tests aren't flawless, and some will fit certain people better than others and all will have their strengths and weaknesses, but they are a good starting point.
I recommend all high school students to take at least one personality test in high school. There are four reasons in particular why I think this is the best route:
1. Personality tests provide insight.
Personality tests provide insight about the student that is beneficial for understanding how they communicate, their learning style, how they work in relationships, best work environment and more. This insight can help improve communication between parents and the student, and can often lead to "aha" moments where all of a sudden patterns of behavior start making sense.
2. Personality tests provide direction.
Often personality tests provide specific recommendations for career fields. If not, they at least can provide a category that you can explore in more depth to see career paths that typically fit that personality style. This helps give us a starting place for where to explore potential career paths that would best fit a particular student.
3. Personality tests provide students with verbiage.
If you sit the average teen across from a career professional and ask that teen to describe themselves to that professional, most students will not have the vocabulary to be able to even start. The ability to accurately for a student to accurately describe their strengths and weaknesses is incredibly powerful when they are beginning to look at potential career paths, and paves the way for career professionals to have the tools to be able to speak wisdom into that teen's life regarding whether that career pursuit makes sense for them or not.
4. Personality tests provide inspiration.
The topic of "what do you want to do/be when you grow up" can often be stressful for a teen. I mean, we are talking to someone who might still be struggling to keep their room clean or juggle their homework assignments and we are asking them to make (what can seem to be) a life-direction-altering decision. Personality testing changes that conversation from a negative (what they don't know about their direction) to a positive (the natural strengths and traits that they possess). This can be motivating and inspiring for many individuals, and can motivate students that might otherwise be overwhelmed.
Which Personality Tests?
But what personality/strengths tests should you take? There are a wide range of options, including Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, Disc Assessment and more, each with their unique strengths and weaknesses. I've put together a guide that walks you through some of the most common ones, you can get details on each of these tests and links of where to find them through our FREE Personality Test Guide here.
You’ve Taken a Personality Test, Now What?
Want help connecting the dots between a personality test and an actual action plan for your teen to explore career paths? We’ve created a 4-week challenge specifically designed to help walk your teen through exploring career paths that match his or her individual personality and strengths! There is a short video and assignment each day of the challenge to encourage and motivate students to focus on career paths, not just college.
WEEK 1: Your Strengths, where we take a look at personality testing and insight from friends and family to build a list of personality traits to use in your career search.
WEEK 2: Your Perspective, addresses how we approach choosing a career. We use the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You to learn about the importance of acquiring valuable skills.
WEEK 3: Your Career Interests guides students to narrow their interests and get feedback from professionals in that field.
WEEK 4: Your Next Step discusses what to do after the challenge ends.
BONUS: Hidden Figures Movie Night to watch a story about three women who really understood skill acquisition.
You can find out more about our Career Prep Challenge and get your teen started on this important journey here!
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