Finding a Satisfying Career: Help is on the Way!

SDS_CoverOnly 45 percent of the working population in the U.S. are satisfied with their jobs, according to a recent survey of 5,000 households. To address this problem, people need tools to help identify careers that are a good fit for their interests and skills. The popular Self-Directed Search® (SDS®) from PAR provides a solution for today’s job seekers. The brand-new SDS 5th Edition is a 15-minute, self-administered test for those beginning their career search as well as those considering a career change.

“Taking the SDS is an important first step in developing a career plan that can prevent years of dissatisfaction on the job,” says SDS 5th Edition author Melissa Messer. “The SDS guides users toward careers that will help them meet their personal and financial goals and that they enjoy.”

According to Ms. Messer, no special training or qualifications are needed with the SDS; it is designed to be self-administered, self-scored, and self-interpreted. The SDS can be taken online; with paper and pencil; or via PARiConnect, PAR’s new online assessment system.

The SDS 5th Edition is based on Dr. John Holland’s theory that both people and work environments fit into six basic categories: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (known collectively as RIASEC). The SDS generates a three-letter Summary Code for each user, based on his or her aspirations, activities, competencies, and interest in different occupations. Users can match their Summary Codes to jobs in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database, which lists thousands of current jobs at all skill and education levels.

The SDS Web site has also been updated with new resources targeted to specific groups and a contemporary, easy-to-navigate user interface. The newly revised report includes an “at-a-glance” summary, and users can share their results via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. The SDS 5th Edition is designed to work on mobile devices and tablets.

To learn more about the SDS 5th Edition or any of PAR’s other career or vocational products, visit www.parinc.com or call 1.800.331.8378.

Helping students navigate the path from college to career: The changing role of college career centers

Most students have a ready answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For college students, those answers are generally expected to have some basis in reality. Many students believe that a session with a career counselor will not only clarify their career path but also guarantee them a job or at least a crucial company contact.

However, there are people who think the role of the college career center should change. Andy Chan, Vice President for Personal and Career Development at Wake Forest University, posits that typical college career centers must shift their focus. Instead of providing job listings and assuming students will “figure it out,” career counselors should first focus on the student’s personal development, then work with the student to discover how those personal characteristics will relate to the student’s career interests. Providing students with the abilities and skills necessary to network effectively is also crucial.

Chan also argues against the common misconception that a liberal arts degree will lead nowhere. In fact, a recent survey indicates that employers want their workers to be innovative, critical thinkers with a wide-ranging base of education. A student’s choice of major may be less important than his being able to demonstrate that he has these types of broad skills, such as leadership, communications, and problem solving.

College career centers should attempt to hone these skills in students, along with providing standard services like aptitude testing, practice interviews, and access to alumni networking events and career fairs.

How should college career centers and career counselors adapt to best serve their clients? Have you benefited from career counseling?

We are pleased to announce the release of the new Self-Directed Search® (SDS®) Web site

We are pleased to announce the release of the new Self-Directed Search® (SDS®) Web site.

The new SDS site has been completely revamped, enabling users not only to complete the test but also to learn more about the history, theory, and applications of the SDS. Targeted resource sections, supplemental information and links, case studies, and more are all swathed in a brand-new, contemporary design.

You can also visit www.self-directed-search.com using your tablet or mobile device—the site automatically adjusts its interface to your device’s size and specifications!

 

Career Help for Returning Veterans

The transition from military career to civilian life can be a real challenge, and finding a good job is one of the most important factors in a veteran’s success. This month, PAR is pleased to introduce The Veterans and Military Occupations Finder™ (VMOF), a new product designed specifically to help veterans meet this challenge.

Working in conjunction with the Self-Directed Search® (SDS®), the VMOF allows users to explore career options by linking military occupation titles with civilian jobs. After taking the SDS, users can match their three-letter Holland Summary Code to Occupational Information Network (O*NET) career options and education requirements. The VMOF will help users to better understand how they can apply the skills they developed in the military to civilian occupations.

The VMOF includes two indexes. The first lists current Military Occupational Classifications (MOCs), along with corresponding two-letter Summary Codes, from each of the five branches of the military (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard). The second lists MOCs from each of the five branches along with corresponding civilian occupations and their two-letter Summary Codes.

An online edition of the VMOF, which includes select portions of the print edition, is available at the newly revised SDS Web site; the full version is available in a print format.

The SDS will be featured at the National Career Development Association’s Global Conference in Boston next week! Visit PAR at Booth #12 to learn more about the VMOF and the upcoming SDS 5th Edition.

Some NCDA program highlights include:

Monday, July 8:

“Remembering John Holland and Furthering His Impact on Career Services” (3:00-4:10 p.m.)

“Understanding Relationships among Holland’s Self-Directed Search, the Career Thoughts Inventory, and the Career Tension Scale” (3:00-4:10 p.m.)

“The Development of the Working Styles Assessment” (4:30-5:40 p.m.)

Tuesday, July 9:

“Improving Career Interventions by Better Assessing Readiness for Decision Making” (3:00-4:10 p.m.)

Wednesday, July 10:

“The Development of a Revised Version of Holland’s Self-Directed Search” (8:00-9:00 a.m.)

We hope to see you at NCDA!

Forging a career path after college: The unique position of today’s young graduates

The class of 2013 doesn’t have it easy when it comes to finding a job. The recession has resulted in cut-backs, layoffs, and hiring freezes at many U.S. companies—and, although the recession has technically ended, recovery is slow. A recent Reuters article forecast a tough road for students hoping to join the workforce this summer: Employers will hire just 2.1% more new graduates this year than they did last year, and of 500 hiring managers surveyed by staffing firm Adecco, 58% said they won’t hire any new grads at all.

Meanwhile, it costs more than ever to get that degree: College costs have risen by 6-7% per year for the last few decades—twice the rate of inflation—and, according to the New York Federal Reserve Bank, more than 40% of 25-year-olds have student loan debt—in 2004, that rate was 25%.

“In addition to the substantial share who are officially unemployed, a large swath of these young, highly educated workers have either a job but cannot attain the hours they need or want a job but have given up looking for work,” said Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. The numbers back her up: Among college graduates ages 21-24 who aren’t enrolled in grad school, the unemployment rate is 8.8% and the underemployed rate is a staggering 18.3%.

So what’s a bright, eager 22-year-old armed with a diploma to do? Be detailed, be prepared, and look into every option. Some people find that their chosen field, which may have had a decent hiring rate four years ago, has undergone a change in terms of worker saturation. Others may graduate not fully knowing how their degree will translate into the real world. Grads should think creatively about how the skills and knowledge gained during college—including things learned outside of class—could be applied to unexpected fields or careers.  (PAR’s Self-Directed Search family of career inventory tools, designed to match personality types with career fields, can help with this step.)

Resumes should include any experience that might apply to the position, including internships, leadership positions in clubs, and volunteer work. And that resume should be nearly flawless—43 percent of hiring managers surveyed by Adecco said resume spelling errors resulted in “automatic disqualification.” Most colleges have career centers staffed with people who will look over a resume and provide constructive feedback. Grads should prepare for interviews by researching the company exhaustively and knowing how they’ll respond to standard interview questions. Likewise, they should have some questions ready for the interviewer. “The worst thing you can do, if they ask you if you have any questions, is to say ‘no,’” said Vicki Hardin, associate director of Career Services at University of West Georgia.

And one more thing: Young grads should be realistic, both about the length of their job search and about the job they’ll end up with. Grads probably will not be hired by the first company they send their resume to, and they’re “not going to be making $100,000 on [their] first job. Any kind of experience is better than none,” said Hardin. Patience and a healthy dose of humility are required for this journey.

Did you have a hard time finding a job out of college? Or do you have children who will soon encounter this problem? How have you found jobs in the past? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

 

Should You Bank Your Credentials?

Imagine this: Twenty years into your career, you decide to move between states. In order to practice in your new state, you simply need to submit documentation from your internship supervisor, previous jobs, and former managers. However, it’s been decades since you saw these people or worked in some of these places – you may not be able to find them, the organizations may not exist anymore, and there is no paper trail to back up your years of experience. Unfortunately, this is happening to many psychologists, making the process of obtaining a license in a new state a daunting task.

Once most psychologists complete the rigorous process of completing internship, passing boards, and applying for state licensure, many never give a second thought to documenting the path they took along the way. Organization like the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards have created credential banks in order to serve as a reliable clearinghouse for this professional information.

These banks provide a way for psychologists to safely store EPPP scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, internship and postdoctoral hours, continuing education information, state licensure information, and more in a secure place. Information stored throughout one’s career is then conveniently located in one archive. While credential banks charge a nominal fee for storing information, proponents believe that saving the hassle is worth the cost.

Have you run into problems documenting your work experience? Would you encourage psychologists early in their career to begin to bank their credentials? How have you kept track of your professional information throughout the years?

Helping Clients Find Their Own Direction: Robert Reardon and Janet Lenz Reflect on Career and the Success of the Self-Directed Search®

The Self-Directed Search® has been used by more than 30 million people worldwide and has been translated into more than 25 languages. There are a number of career assessments on the market, yet the SDS continues to be extremely successful. What sets it apart? Recently, PAR had the opportunity to catch up with two SDS experts, Robert Reardon, PhD, and Janet Lenz, PhD, both from the Career Center at Florida State University and widely published in the career counseling arena. Reardon and Lenz have worked closely with SDS author John Holland as collaborators and authors of many SDS-related publications, including The Self-Directed Search and Related Holland Materials: A Practitioner’s Guide (PAR, 1998).

The SDS is based on Holland’s career theory, which argues that vocational choice is an expression of personality, and that by identifying certain personality characteristics and preferences, better career choices can be made. “People often feel overwhelmed about how to relate their self-knowledge to career options,” says Reardon. “The SDS gives them a way to intuitively and logically make that connection.” One of Holland’s most important contributions was his identification of the personality and environmental characteristics that have become known collectively as RIASEC: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. These factors form the basis of the SDS.

Reardon and Lenz have worked with the SDS for nearly 40 years, and they have seen it develop in response to career counseling research and new technology. “Our counseling service started using the SDS in 1973 because it included a self-help feature that we knew would be useful to our clients,” they explain. “Holland took note of what we were doing and was supportive along the way.”

Reardon and Lenz have been deeply involved in revisions of the SDS, and they have been key players in updates and revisions to many of the individual elements in the SDS product family, such as the interpretive report generated by the SDS software. But what keeps these products current and relevant? “The SDS is informed by both practice and research,” they explain, “and we continue to draw upon both to keep SDS materials current and relevant. For example, the revised Occupations Finder published in 2010 is very important because it now connects the SDS to the O*NET system of occupational information, which is online and updated constantly. Unlike many other assessments, the SDS embraces users—after all, ‘self-directed’ is in the title—and this user perspective helps to keep the SDS relevant.”

Today, using the on-screen administration, clients can complete the SDS electronically on a laptop computer, a tablet, or even an iPhone® or Android device. For college students and other clients living in this era of instant information, the SDS has kept pace by providing a fast, accessible, portable, and reasonably priced tool that can help them gain real insight into making good choices about career.

In the category of reliable, valid, theory-based instruments, the SDS is one of the most user-friendly, and it is very easy for practitioners to use with clients. “Some have described the SDS as simple,” say Reardon and Lenz, “but when fully interpreted and connected to Holland’s theoretical constructs (for example, congruence, differentiation, coherence, consistency, vocational identity), it provides a rich source of information for both clients and practitioners to discuss and incorporate into a plan for next steps. The information not only addresses self and option knowledge, but it provides diagnostic data about the client’s ability to move effectively through the career decision-making and problem solving process.”

As the SDS has evolved, it has always been research-based; through the years, more than 1,600 published studies have examined, evaluated, and supported Holland’s career theory. Reardon and Lenz have themselves collaborated in more than 35 publications related to the SDS and RIASEC theory. “Over time, our interest in the SDS has deepened as we learned more about the instrument, not only from our own research, but from hundreds of studies and articles that were published as more practitioners adopted the SDS and more researchers began to consider it.”

“One of the things we’ve seen from doing workshops with counselors all over the country is how many different settings and with how many different client populations the SDS has been used successfully,” say Reardon and Lenz. “It’s been rewarding to see how it has helped so many people become more effective career problem solvers.”
To learn more about the Self-Directed Search and other materials related to career intervention services and resources, visit the SDS product page on PAR’s Web site; to take the SDS online right now, click on http://www.self-directed-search.com/default.aspx.