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With so many options out there, how do Career Development Professionals choose assessments that will work for their clients?  There really is no simple answer to this question, and it requires some homework on our part to find what we need.  I will go into details about the different types of career assessments in a future post; today I want to focus on why it’s important to use evidence based assessments with clients.

As the old adage goes, you don’t always get what you pay for; this is also true of career assessments.  Just because it is expensive, and comes with a long report, doesn’t mean there’s any evidence to back how good it actually is.  When looking at assessments, there are two important things to investigate; reliability and validity.  Reliability refers to how well an assessment produces stable and consistent results over time.  While reliability is an important measure, it only reflects the assessment’s ability to produce the same results. If those results are flawed to begin with, then there is a problem; this is where validity comes in.  Validity refers to how well a test measures what it is supposed to measure.  Reputable test publishers will have published this information and have it readily available to practitioners; it can usually be found in product manuals, on publishers’ websites, or sent to you on request.

It’s not enough to say “it works” based on anecdotal evidence alone.  Remember, evidence based assessments are not just based on one person’s opinion; they remove unintentional bias by the practitioner; and the results are consistent and accurate.  Also evidence-based assessments typically come with a set of guidelines/ethics for use and interpretation; this adherence to ethical standards preserves the integrity of the assessment, your clients’ rights, and you as the practitioner.

All that being said, it is important to actually read the evidence. Just having it doesn’t necessarily mean it is all good… I know, it’s not the most exhilarating stuff unless you’re into stats, but it’s one of those things you just have to get through.  You would be surprised at how some of the most popular assessments used in career counselling/career management completely miss the mark on certain measures!

When CLSR is approached to represent a new assessment, we always check the research, validity, and reliability, amongst other criteria, before offering it in our catalogue to Career Development Professionals.  What about you? How do you evaluate if an assessment is going to work for your clients?  Are you unhappy with what you have available to you, but can’t change it?  Let me know in the comments below.

BradBrad Whitehorn, BA is the Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Career/LifeSkills Resources Inc.  He was thrown in to the career development field headfirst after completing a Communications degree in 2005, and hasn’t looked back!  Since then, Brad has worked on the development, implementation and certification for various career and personality assessments (including Personality Dimensions®), making sure that Career Development Practitioners get the right tools to best serve their clients.