Skip to main content

Caution: Are those free online assessments really free?

So...define FREE again.
So...define FREE again.

There are a number of online advertisements promising free career assessments.  With unemployment rates approaching 10.5%, there are a lot of people in transition and looking for resources.  One “bait-and-switch” tactic is to offer free assessments to the unsuspecting public.  What the candidate discovers after investing 20 or 30 minutes completing the online test is that the “free” report that comes with the “free” assessment is worthless. Of course you will have an opportunity to purchase the rest of the report.

Many assessments on the market can be very costly, so it is tempting to go for the "free" offers. What is the best approach for someone who is seeking career assessment? There is an adage that rings true, and that is "there is no substitute for hard work."  The very best assessments are the ones that require brainstorming and soul searching on the part of the candidate. That cannot be accomplished by standardized one-size-fits-all tests. Certainly there are personality assessments and job interest inventories available that can offer insights, but we have found the best exercises for helping individuals chart a course for their careers are unique and specific to the person.  Rather than relying on a standardized format, the best assessments serve to guide the individual in reflecting on the past, evaluating the present, and envisioning the future.  This process aids self-discovery, wise decision making, and equips participants with confidence for the journey ahead.  In the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Look not mournfully into the past.  It comes not back again.  Wisely improve the present.  It is thine.  Go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear and with a manly heart."  The two assessments that we believe most  effectively marry the past, present, and future, are the "Forty Year Vision" and "The Seven Stories" exercise. These are both published by The Five O'Clock Club, a research-based strategic job search organization. 

If you are working with a career coach, you should have the option of completing assessments with as little or as much support as you desire from your private coach on an as-needed basis. This will help keep costs down while ensuring the most benefit for you.  Find out up front what type of assessments will be used and what cost will be passed on to you.   If you would like to receive our e-newsletter with career management tips, please sign up here for any categories of interest to you: