by Toddi Gutner
April 24, 2009
Armed with an M.B.A. from Arkansas State University, 24-year-old Dana Lund figured she had what she needed to succeed at her new job in the sales-training program at Acxiom Corp., a global interactive marketing firm.
But it wasn't until she took the Birkman Method personality assessment test -- a 45-minute assessment to identify an individual's work style and behavior -- that she really got the tools she needed. The Little Rock, Ark.-based Acxiom requires nearly every new employee to take the 298-question test. Ms. Lund, who joined the company last year, says she quickly learned she worked best by planning a task step-by-step, being creative and having time to reflect. "It has helped me to learn how to interact better with work teams and to leverage my strengths in the workplace," she says.
Many young people are facing this extra hurdle. These days, more than 80% of midsize and large companies use personality and ability assessments for entry and midlevel positions as either pre-employment or new-employee orientation tools, says Scott Erker, a senior vice president at Development Dimensions International, a global human-resources consultancy. These assessments have been widely used in retail positions but are quickly spreading to other industries, including finance, technology, health care and operations.