Changing paradigms in career decision making

Psychometric tests have been in use for several decades for facilitating career decisions for individuals, undecided with their career choices. Traditionally these tests have been done using paper – pencil, however computer aided career guidance has also become popular .

Globally the most popular theory for providing career guidance to students, has been the Holland’s theory of interest, where a person’s interest types are determined as Realistic , Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising or Conventional ,called RIASEC in short. This is then mapped against different careers for determining best matches.

Aptitude tests have also been used to determine an individual’s abilities to work in a career. These tests are designed to assess an individual’s spatial, verbal, arithmetic and logical reasoning skills in timed exam like conditions. Test results are compared against established norms to assess ones abilities and the results helps to determine suitability between choices.  

Personality and Work Values are other internal attributes that are measured to determine fitment in different careers. Big 5 and MBTI have been popular personality tests and theory of work adjustment provides a scale for measuring work values. Despite the importance of work value, they have been sparingly used for career guidance due to difficulties in assessment & interpretation of results.

Some of the issues highlighted in research (e.g. Savickas et al.,2009) suggests that the existing assessment mechanisms are not sufficient and need improvements.  

  • Recommendations based on a single theory (like Holland's) or trait (like Interest) are too simplistic and hence may not be very helpful to career decision makers.
  • Non-linear data driven models are needed for determining career fitment based on multiple traits. 
  • Career decision making should be a process and not an event, hence the need for a guiding framework / model to facilitate self discovery and learning across a lifetime.
  • There is a move away from prescriptive recommendation approaches (e.g. just recommending the top matches) to a framework which can provide fitment across the world of work
  • Need for internationalization in the field of career guidance. 
  • Need for indigenizing the scales developed primarily in the west before being used in other cultures.

In the next blog we cover the building blocks of the Tucareers career decision framework


  • Savickas, M. L., et al. (2009). Life designing: A paradigm for career construction in the 21st century. Journal of vocational behavior, 75(3), 239-250.