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Your personality and career choice

The key to a fulfilling career is not always just passion. It also requires understanding your personality traits. You know what you like to do, but what would you be good at? These are not always one and the same.

The ancient Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates suggested our personality depends on one of four temperaments: hot tempered, moody, confident or slow to act.

Centuries later, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung suggested that our temperaments fall under the categories of sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling. Sigmund Freud proposed our desire to satisfy our most basic needs and wants drives our personality.

How does this all relate to choosing and building a career?

Four personality test to help you determine career paths

Personality tests can help you uncover your strengths and weaknesses, and which of your characteristics are the most dominant. Deciding on careers may seem a bit far away, but having a sound idea can help you choose a major, and subsequently your path down the line.

For more conventional methods for determining your career path, see 9 things every college student should do before graduation.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) assessment

With MBTI, you can narrow down your career path based on the 16 possibly personality types that follow Carl Jung's theory. The test can help you to understand what workplace environment is best for your personality type and determine how you relate to people. MBTI is good for all career stages, no matter if you're going through university or making late-in-life career changes. While actual MBTI test costs about USD50, there are a few free ones online based on the same theory.

The Big 5 Personality Test

Big 5 theory states our personalities are based on five elements that remain relatively stable throughout our careers. These elements determine how you respond to stimuli and results are on a scale. As with most personality tests, the results depend on the respondent's interpretation of the Big 5 labels. This test takes about 10-15 minutes to complete 120 questions.

Holland Code (RIASEC) Career test

This personality test determine your best career paths on 48 tasks that you either like or dislike. At the end, your profile will fall within one of the six personalities: realistic (doers), investigative (thinkers), artistic (creators), social (helpers), enterprising (persuaders) and conventional (organisers).

Like the MBTI test, the RIASEC can be taken online for free but the full report will cost you about USD20.

The Caliper Profile

The Caliper has been around for almost 60 years. Based on 180 "self-assessment" multiple choice questions, the test takes about 2 hours to complete. The test focuses on cognitive and behavioural questions that aim to find patterns in your answers. These tests can be fun and sometimes eerily spot on, but results can change and some users have said the questions are often difficult to answer.

The verdict on personality tests

These tests are never going to be fully accurate. Every theory is different and everyone respondent could interpret it a different way.

Consider the tests to be one of many tools that will help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses. What you discover might surprise you. Maybe it will put you on the right study path and eventually a fulfilling and enjoyable career. No matter what, you'll learn something new about yourself, or at least be entertained for an hour or so.

Looking for something a little more personal?

Maybe taking online tests to determine what you'll do for the rest of your life isn't your style. You might find talking to a professional education consultant more helpful.

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