The write career for you
If you attended a British school in the late 1980s or 1990s, then chances are you’ll remember CASCAiD, the computerised career aptitude test responsible for confusing thousands of schoolchildren, and crushing the dreams of thousands more every year.
The CASCAiD tests, in theory, were a good idea. Take your aptitudes, likes and dislikes, and match them up to different careers to see what best suits the particular candidate. It could even open up your eyes to career paths you had never even considered before.
In reality, CASCAiD seemed to only offer a limited selection of bizarre or irrelevant careers. It seemed everyone received either “gardener” or “undertaker” as one of their career suggestions. And at the truly specialised and bizarre end of the spectrum, I’ve heard tales of people being advised to become “blacksmiths”, “leather technologists” and “scientific glass blowers”.
Similar tests are administered in the US, with similarly bizarre results, as exemplified in the Simpsons episode Separate Vocations.
My wife works in further education, and has access to the new generation of these tests. Since I’m looking for a new job, we thought it would be fun to run the tests on me to find out what kind of jobs I ought to be looking for, given my interests, qualifications and experience. Making a living as an author is still the longterm goal/dream, but the reality is very few of us make it there, and in the meantime I need to work. And I’d like it to be something I enjoy.
At any rate, the suggestions would have to be better than the jobs I’ve had in the past, which were based on “what I could get given qualifications in a career I don’t want to be in”.
Someone must have worked hard on these tests, as the accuracy seems to have improved over time. I was impressed that not only did it recognise that I had an aptitude for writing, but it actually recommended jobs that make use of that aptitude.
Ignoring the suggestion of “paralegal” (gah!) amongst the suggestions from the first test were: Editor (newspaper/magazine); writer; literary agent; TV/film creative; and bookseller.
If it weren’t for the fact that I know independent bookshops tend to get pushed out of business by the chain stores, supermarkets and Amazon, I would love to run my own bookshop. Alas, I also like to have enough money to eat…
The second test provided some more concrete job titles to flesh out the generic “writer” above, including technical writer and screenwriter, and adding proofreader and several advertising positions (both creative and copywriting) into the mix. And once again literary agent was close to the top.
Of course, being told you would suit a job, and actually breaking into that career are completely different things, as the recent “thanks but no thanks” letters I’ve received indicate.
But at least I’ve got some focus now on career areas rather than just “writer”, something that you can’t just turn up to and get a salary and a pension. And a better idea about what kind of work I would actually like to do than I think I’ve ever had in my life.