toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

May 12, 2010

are aptitude tests helpful?

Trudy is 26 and has a secretarial certificate that has not helped her much on a career path. Faced with another job search after a short-term contract expired, Trudy decided to use the between jobs period to consult with a few career advisers and take as much time as she needed to examine her life and what she wanted to do with it.

"Rather than frantically riding on the stressful job merry-go-round, taking on more and more qualifications in order to become more and more versatile and employable," says Trudy, "I thought it was time I stopped for a while and considered my options."

"The most important thing I learned from talking about my problems is that rather than reacting to changes that other people force upon me, it is so much smarter to be initiating a new direction of my own," says Trudy. "I accept that the ultimate solution to all the misery of job loss and forced career change lies in changing my attitude. Rather than waiting passively for the next corporate takeover or restructure to change my life, I am seriously considering a career change - but what?"

"Anyone seeking advice from a career adviser," laughs Trudy, "had better make sure that he or she works in the real world rather than in some ivory tower. Even career advisers are in turmoil these days. They cannot give the measured advice that they were once able to give their clients."

Because Trudy could not make up her mind about a new career direction she thought that career advisers would have good advice for her. Some of the advisers she saw were helpful, but Trudy is finding that the process of doing nothing, weighing her options - yes, even asking for advice - is in accordance with what is right for her at this particular between jobs time.

Also, it may not be a career adviser she needs to see, but a Life Strategist or a Personal Coach.

"The third career adviser I saw gave me a battery of tests," says Trudy, "at the end of which I was advised that I would make a good glass blower!"

"Okay, I realize that the test results were supposed to indicate a type of profession that best suited my aptitudes," says Trudy, "but I consider this type of career counseling to be totally out of touch with reality."

"Had the tests indicated that I would make a good nurse, or a good hairdresser, I may have been happier with the results. The options I was given were crazy. Glass blowing? Masterpiece restoration? I mean, how many openings do you see for glass blowers or masterpiece restorers? Get real!

"I suppose that when we don't know which way to turn - or when we cannot choose between two options - then the signs are quite obvious that doing nothing is the way to go," sighs Trudy. "I don't feel pressured to choose an option that a career adviser finds for me. There are many, many more directions I can take."

"Friends and good with advice, too," says Trudy, "but when someone advises you to follow a certain path it is probably what he or she might do in my situation, but they're not me and the ultimate decision rests with me."

"Seeing a few career advisers was a good learning experience for me because I learned that no matter how much I trusted or admired a professional adviser, and no matter how much I paid for the advice, I cannot act upon that advice unless I had a clear inner sign to do so."

"Professionals such as doctors and lawyers earn their living from giving advice. Mostly it is sound advice, sometimes it is not. When their advice is mistaken, the consequences for you and your loved ones could be devastating. Same goes for career advisers."

"I have learned that the best advice anyone can give you - or should give you - is to follow your own inner direction," says Trudy. "Do what feels right for you. Do not concern yourself with being stuck, not knowing which way to turn. Just flow with it, be patient, and allow the universe to work its magic for you. A solution will arrive in time, but only when you are ready for it. That's what being between jobs is all about."

"Often, just one sign is enough to cause us to act decisively one way or another, but sometimes - especially when we are too busy to stop and take notice of what we are hearing, seeing or feeling - the universe throws us sign after sign to ensure that we keep safe and take the right track."

"And sometimes, too, the universe punishes us when we perversely refuse to pay heed of the signs - when we do not take time to listen and to act according to what is right for us. There is much to be said for the callous remark: Serves yourself right!"

"I can remember many times when I suffered some minor misfortune as a result of ignoring sign after sign in my life," says Trudy. "We are all guilty of being so wrapped up in ourselves at some particular time in our lives that we fail to see what is going on around us or, if we do, we rationalize it, or take someone's advice on it because it is too much bother to stop and listen to how we feel. And then we are sorry."

"We reflect on what happened and moan: if only I had done this, or that, I would not be in the mess I am in now. Sounds familiar, right?"

"The purpose of setting aside plenty of time preparing for a new job or a new direction is to give yourself time to monitor your feelings and to be absolutely sure that you are ready to plunge into the murky waters of a world outside of your comfort zone."

"If you have been recently laid off, or suffered a relationship breakdown, you need time to get yourself back on track. Rushing into a new job or a new relationship before you are ready for the hurdles and pitfalls of what lies ahead can cause you some costly mistakes and misfortunes."

"When it's a minor misfortune, we get over it. We learn a lesson we needed to learn and next time we will know better, hopefully. But sometimes our perversity in failing to stop, look and listen to the signs causes us a major misfortune. I didn't want to let that happen to me again.

"In many respects, being given two crazy career directions was a great wake up call for me," says Trudy. "Had I been given two sensible career directions, I might have felt pressured to choose one and then I could end up regretting the decision."

"A good career adviser will point out the pros and cons of a decision that can only be made by you," says Trudy. "To influence you into choosing Option A over Option B when neither feels 'right' can set you back years."

"Undoubtedly aptitude tests can be helpful for some people," says Trudy, "and if nothing else being told that I would make a good glass blower or a masterpiece restorer tells me what I already know -- that I need a job that offers more creativity than secretarial work."

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