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Jane Hodges
Updated April 22, 2010 12:01 a.m. ET

With the country's unemployment hovering around 10%, many professionals are on the hunt
for the perfect job.

But what job? What industry? To the rescue are online career-assessment tests that aim to
help workers (and daydreamers) identify suitable jobs and work environments. We took four
tests to learn what fields are a good fit for a longtime reporter: the Myers Briggs Type
Indicator (MBTI), the Kolbe A Index, the Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential
(MAPP) test, and a service called Careerkey.


Ryan Heshka


See a breakdown of the companies reviewed in this article. View chart

All of the tests used questionnaires that took less than 30 minutes to complete and asked us to
rank or qualify our preferences for different types of activities, approaches to activities or
responses to situations or ideas. Then, we received results. Both Kolbe and Myers Briggs
presented four axes of behavior, with our particular work preferences and skills noted on
them. Careerkey ranked our strengths in six topic areas, and MAPP provided a narrative
report and jobs list.

First, we took the Kolbe A Index, a test from Phoenix, Ariz.-based Kolbe Corp. About 50,000
consumers use the assessments online annually, and the company has 5,000 corporate clients,
according to CEO David Kolbe. The index identifies people's natural instincts (or "conative"
skills), so they can choose environments and situations where their instinctual style thrives.
We paid an extra $14 for a "Career MO+" assessment to get more targeted information on our
professional options based on our responses.

The resulting 17-page report showed where we fit on a scale of one to 10 within four "action
modes"fact finder, follow through, quick start, implementor. It revealed that we're mainly
motivated by our fact-finder and quick-start traits, which means we're able to "specify" and
"improvise." In work situations we need breadth and variety, but also the ability to use detail
and research. We snickered at the test's accurate observation that we avoid mechanical tasks
and repairs. We need the challenge of a full plate but must manage time by priority-setting.

The accompanying 12-page Career MO+ materialsfull of details on professions where

those like us thrivewere helpful, and even explained how we can market our strengths. The
analysis of why certain jobs fit our personality helped us see why we like some work (fast-
paced, loosely managed, autonomously produced) and not others (too many
supervisors/meetings, unclear project mandates, narrow scope).
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator test borrows from Jungian psychology and posits that
people's personalities fit one of 16 types, determined by four polarities, including
introversion/extroversion, intuiting/sensing and thinking/feeling. Two people with the same
Myers Briggs type can still be quite different, since they may fall in different zones even
within the same ends of these four scales.

This was the only assessment test for which we arranged a live consultation. After taking the
test online, we waited to hear results during our phone meeting with a counselor trained by
Gainesville, Fla.-based Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), a non-profit
organization founded in 1975 that trains counselors to administer the Myers Briggs test and
other assessment tests. Lisa Orr, director of operations at CAPT, told us that its test is
administered about a million times annually, but couldn't say how many consultations were
conducted by CAPT-trained counselors.

During our consultation, which CAPT had to push back a day, we learned some useful tidbits.
We straddled the border in some categorieswe're situational extroverts, but sort of
introverts by nature, for instance. The chat was helpful because rather than route us toward
researching certain jobs or careers, we were able to discuss what sorts of projects within our
field did and didn't suit us and how to think about the changing landscape in our profession.
The counselor confirmed that our current strategytolerate unsettling changes going on by
focusing on a single big projectcould work for our personality type and help us to adjust.

The MAPP, administered by the Edina, Minn.-based International Assessment Network,

presented questionnaire results in a long narrative, explaining how we interact with nine
work-related faculties. The report's assessments seemed to fit us, such as our motivations (we
don't require recognition, can work in foreground or background), our aptitudes (OK at math;
highly verbal), reasoning style (big picture) and so forth. It also offered a list of 20 likely job
fits (including our current and former positions), as well as links to a job database where we
could sync test results to different jobs and see how well they would suit us based on a
variety of criteria. This test seemed to classify us as more of the "loose artist" personality,
who doesn't like deadlines or structure and is highly intuitive, which isn't how we view
ourselves. But other observations, like our current and possible future career choices, were

We found the results from Careerkey's survey the most general. Based on our answers, the
site assigned numbers to our strength levels across six areasrealistic, social, investigative,
enterprising, artistic, and conventional. It then provided links to careers associated with these
areas, noting that we'd be happiest in jobs reflective of our high-score categories, which for
us were "artistic" and "social." (Scarily, for us anyway, we ranked low on "investigative" and

When we looked at job categories within each of these areas, we were presented with a broad
array of choices. We felt this site might be best for a younger person feeling their way toward
a major or first career, versus a person looking for personality assessments of the MBTI or
Kolbe sort.

Juliet Jones, the company's vice president, says the Careerkey test has been used by about 24
million people since 1997. Ms. Jones notes the test may be most useful to career changers
rather than those seeking to get more fulfillment in an existing field.
The takeaway? While we appear to be a good match for our chosen field, the tests offered
insights on what types of assignments best fit our skills. And there were no big surprises
none of the test results suggested we pursue a career as a rodeo clown.


$63.95 for Our dominant two traits The test results jibed
Kolbe Corp. Kolbe A Index among four are 'fact finder' with our sense of self
plus Career and 'quick starter,' and we liking depth, variety and MO+ have a decided distaste for speed and working with
assessment the mechanical or for ideas; assessment of
modeling outcomes. We do how we respond to jobs
lots of research and then and can market our
leap. strengths was worth the
$165 for online Some people who take the The third-party test
Myers Briggs Type assessment, one test wind up on the cusp of administrator pushed
Indicator hour phone two types. For instance, we back appointment 24
appointment were borderline hours. Consultation was and reading extrovert/introvert and useful, and counselor
materials borderline was able to review our
perceiving/judging but had near-term work strategy
clear-cut intuitive and and affirm ways to
thinking traits. manage professional
$9.95 for online Our dominant traits among Test results were very
Careerkey quiz and six are social and artistic. broad. This seems like a
assessment We scored lower on nice, low-cost start for realistic, investigative, younger users, who
conventional, enterprising might be choosing
traitsslightly disturbing between fields of study
considering our current or various professions.
$19.99 for test, List offered predictable job Service provided option
Motivational Appraisal list of 20 likely titles related to media, to pull a detailed
of Personal Potential professional teaching and counseling analysis of how likely
fits, narrative positions, but the narrative we would be to enjoy up about our about how we respond and to 10 professions of our
results use different faculties at choice with data on
work was helpfuleven why. More detailed
funny. analysis was available
for higher prices.