The Career Key S-E Test

The self-employment form of the Career Key test measures John Holland's six personality types and two broad personality dimensions. The Holland personality types are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (RIASEC); and the personality dimensions Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience.

Measuring RIASEC. This part of the SEK measure is identical to The Career Key™ (CK) test. The CK was first published in 1987 and launched on the Internet ( at North Carolina State University in 1997. It was the first professional quality career test on the Internet. Due to its popularity, it was moved to a web hosting service in 2000, as heavy traffic threatened to overwhelm the university server. The CK has been the subject of numerous research studies and is widely used by professional counselors and the general public. Invalid career tests can be harmful (Jones, 2007), and the CK is one of the few valid measures of the RIASEC on the Internet. For more on the CK, review its online professional manual.

Matching Personality Types to Career Options. The CK helps people identify the occupations that match their personality. It uses a sophisticated personality type/worker trait group taxonomy created by the author to achieve this (Jones, 1980). More . . .

Persons having a high score on the Artistic scale, for example, are shown a list of "Artistic" occupations that are divided into "work groups", like Drama and Dance and Literary Arts. They select the occupations that interest them. When they are finished, the occupations are displayed on the summary page. They can, then, click on each one and get accurate, comprehensive information about it from the Department of Labor's online Occupational Outlook Handbook. More . . .

The S-E form of the Career Key differs from the standard version of the CK in one way. Instead of displaying all occupations, it shows those where 10 percent or more of the people are self-employed.

Measuring Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience. These personality dimensions are two of the five which comprise "The Big Five Personality Factors". The "Big Five" are relatively new. Over the last four decades, psychologists have struggled to identify how personality might be related to entrepreneurship. A confusing variety of personality variables have been studied. The results have been inconsistent and even contradictory.

In the past 20 years, however, a statistical technique known as "factor analysis" has been used to organize all of these different personality variables into a small but meaningful set of personality constructs. A consensus has emerged: there are five basic personality dimensions -- Extraversion, Emotional Stability, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience. (John & Srivastava, 2000). More . . .

A number of measures have since been developed to measure these Big 5, and they have been used to study entrepreneurship. In addition, psychologists are now using a relatively new technique called "meta-analysis" to examine previous studies of entrepreneurship. They assign the personality inventories used in these studies to the five dimensions to investigate whether their results support a relationship between the Big 5 and entrepreneurship.

In our analysis of this recent research literature we found that two of these dimensions have sufficient support to recommend them: Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience. Generally, entrepreneurs are higher on these two dimensions, compared to others. For example, an analysis of 23 previous studies by Zhao and Seibert (2006) found that entrepreneurs were higher on these dimensions than managers. They offer a sensible rationale for these dimensions.

Conscientiousness "indicates an individual's degree of organization, persistence, hard work, and motivation in the pursuit of goal accomplishment (p. 261)." A high need for achievement is a important part of Conscientiousness. While these attributes are important for managers and other workers, they are especially important for entrepreneurs. They set their own goals. They operate in a more discretionary and self-directed environment where these traits are likely to have a more important role.

Openness to Experience is seen in a person "who is intellectually curious and tends to seek new experiences and explore novel ideas (p. 261)." People high on this dimension are creative, innovative, imaginative, reflective, and untraditional. These traits dovetail with starting a new business. Entrepreneurs are required to solve new problems, and take an innovative approach to products, business methods, or strategies.

To develop scales to measure these two dimensions, the research literature was carefully reviewed. Current measures of the Big 5 were examined. Based on this analysis and the author's knowledge and experience in developing other measures, two 4-item scales were created. We believe that the results of these scales have exploratory value to persons taking the S-E form of the CK test. However, we advise test takers "The scales for these two dimensions are experimental, but we think you will find them valuable to consider. At no charge, you can take a test validated by research, The Big Five Personality Test at". Future research will investigate the psychometric qualities of these scales.