The Gut-Punch of Career Aptitude Testing

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My son was home from college last weekend, and like a lot of people at his point in their academic career, he’s reevaluating whether or not his declared major is right for him. Amidst a family discussion on the topic, my wife thought it would be a good idea for him to take one of those online career-aptitude tests designed to offer suitable career directions based on one’s interests, values, and personality. And in a show of solidarity (with probably a dash of curiosity), my wife suggested that she, I, and our daughter also take the test.

Just between you and me, I’ve never had much confidence in aptitude evaluations. That’s because I remember taking a couple of them in high school and thinking the results and suggestions were neither helpful nor did they even make sense. There I was, a good, perceptive student with decent grades and a keen eye for detail, and the most distinguished path presented to me was a career in “packing and shipping.”

It was enough to create a bit of an identity crisis.

Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with working for UPS (and I’ve always highly regarded the brown uniforms and trucks), but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how my respectable grades in math and science, and my interests in art and media, translated to a profession in packing and moving boxes from one place to another.

The good news was that the aptitude test I was about to take, all these years later, would assuredly come with little psychological consequence. I like what I do (writing, commentary, marketing, and publishing), and at this point in my life, I’m not interested in a bold career change. So, whatever results the exam would produce would be purely anecdotal.

To my pleasant surprise, much of what the test reported made sense. My top job tasks were creative art, writing, interpreting, and designing. My core values were individuality, creativity, originality, and freedom. And my key personality traits were independent, intuitive, sensitive, and imaginative.

All of them made some degree of sense.

But then came something called “career interest areas,” and that’s where everything… well, pretty much went to crap. See if you can spot what I’m talking about:

Apparently my ideal, most suitable career is one that requires literally no thinking at all. None. Zilch. Nada.

“Maybe you could be a crash test dummy, Dad,” my son suggested (before I sent him to his room).

Unsurprisingly, my wife was on her phone immediately, texting the below image (complete with custom labels) to our friends.

The responses came quickly:

The problem, as far as I was concerned, wasn’t that I received a zero. It was that I received a zero in… thinking.

Thinking? How was that even possible?

Writing, for example, requires a lot of thinking, as do most forms of creating, which I scored 100 in (these novels don’t fall out of the sky, you know). The same goes for persuading (my second highest ranking). Persuasion relies on thought, including thinking about what the people you’re trying to persuade are thinking.

I suppose the most pride-saving explanation would be that the test-makers linked “thinking” to math problems and science experiments, and not much else. Or… maybe I’m just an idiot. Who’s to say?

What I do know is that after three and a half decades, I still hate aptitude tests. And I’m “thinking” that’s okay.


Ever take a career aptitude test? Was it worth your time? Let me know in an email or in the comment section below.

The Hullabaloo

As many of you know, I do a video-series called The No BS Zone with Bernie Goldberg. We record a new episode every other week, and we had multiple subscribers tell us that last week’s episode was our best yet. So, if any of you are interested in listening to the two of us talk about political and cultural stuff, I now’s a good time to check us out:

Bernard Goldberg’s Commentary
Bernie Goldberg on Extreme Activists, the Idea that Liberal Bias is a Hoax, and the Trump Jury
Welcome to episode 56 of The No BS Zone with Bernard Goldberg and John Daly. Today, the two talk about activists that cause major public disruptions, the notion that “liberal bias” is a right-wing grift, media-righties inserting themselves in Trump’s jury selection, and the challenge of persuading people in a post-truth political culture…

Listen now

Movie Recommendation

Fun fact: I’ve always liked actor Steve Zahn. I think he’s made every movie or television show I’ve seen him in better than they otherwise would have been, especially when he takes on comedic roles. My wife largely agrees, which is why we rented his recent film — the quirky, low-budget LaRoy, Texas — earlier this month.

It’s a multi-layered dark-comedy thriller, in the grain of Fargo. It’s about a woeful, cheated-on man (played by John Magaro) who’s about to take his own life when a stranger mistaking him for a hit-man changes everything.

What gets the entire series of events rolling is Zahn’s character, a private investigator who no one hires or takes seriously, independently digging up dirt on people and revealing that dirt to their loved ones… so that they’ll see how good he is at his job, and consider hiring (and actually paying) him for investigative work in the future. I found that premise absolutely hilarious (in a good way), and it reminded me of some of Sean Coleman’s recalled, pre-From a Dead Sleep investigative exploits.

I enjoyed the film’s off-the-wall characters, and found the story very entertaining.

Random Thought

Obligatory Dog Shot

“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

Featured Vinyl

Another Record Store Day exclusive this week.

Sponge’s never-before-released album, “Planet Girls”, is kind of a long-lost version of the band’s 1999 third-album, “New Pop Sunday.” Sponge went through a record-label change during the album’s recording phase all those years ago, which resulted in some track-changes and additional, pop-focused recordings replacing originally slated material. “Planet Girls” is what the album was originally intended to be, with songs more consistent with the band’s hallmark, grunge-ish sound.

I haven’t gotten too far into it yet, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard so far.

Catch Up on the Sean Coleman Thrillers

All of my Sean Coleman Thriller novels can be purchased through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Books-A-Million, and wherever else books are sold.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.

Want to drop me a line? You can email me at, and also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Threads! If you haven’t subscribed to this newsletter yet, please click on the “Subscribe now” button below. Doing so will get these posts emailed directly to you.

Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.

Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!

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