Assessments designed to match people, jobs

Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Determining what occupation is best suited to one's interests and skills can be hard to figure out.

At different points in people's lives, they may be faced with changing or choosing a career.

Ranging from high school students to housewives who have never been in the work force to workers who have been laid off, people are contemplating how they would like to spend eight hours a day, five days a week.

One way to determine an individual's strengths is an interest and skills assessment.

The Kenai Peninsula Job Center, Kenai Peninsula College and several high schools on the Kenai Peninsula offer these assessments.

"Some (clients) are here because they have no other choice," said Harry Lockwood, job center vocational counselor. "Some say they are sick of what they are doing."

He said he has clients between 40 and 50 years old saying, "I haven't figured out what I want to do when I grow up."

Some clients have spent their lives performing "survival jobs," he said of those who have made just enough money to live on. "They are just figuring out what they want as a career."

Krista Timlin is the Career Center coordinator at Kenai Peninsula College, a Kenai Penin-sula Borough-funded position. This means Timlin is a resource for the entire community, not just college students.

She helps high school students, college students and adults in the community start thinking about what careers are best for them and how to achieve their occupational goals.

"People come to change careers," she said. "Most people change careers several times."

It takes about an hour to complete both the O*NET Interest Profiler and the Skills Rating.

The assessment is not a pass-or-fail test; it even reminds those taking it, "this is not a test."

For the O*NET online assessment, a person checks if they like, are unsure of or dislike performing certain activities, such as repairing household appliances, writing books or plays, studying ways to reduce water pollution, enforcing fish and game laws, investigating crimes or helping conduct a group therapy session.

Then, with the Skills Rating online assessment the person sorts the skills most important to them into three categories.

After the assessments are completed the client's answers are sorted into what are known as Holland Codes. These codes classify people into six categories: social, enterprising, artistic, investigative, realistic and conventional. The codes that best match the person are determined by the answers to the assessments.

The codes also show occupational ratings, indicating which careers best match a person's skills and interests.

People's interests and skills will fit into all six classifications, but will lean toward three of them, Lockwood said.

The job center works with clients from all different areas of the community and offers several different assessments. Most often, Lockwood chooses to administer the Self Directed Search.

Again, it is based on the Holland Codes, but this assessment will print out an interpretation packet, which is 10 to 15 pages long, describing the best matched careers and how to go about entering them.

Of the many clients Lockwood has encountered, he has never met any that say the assessment was "off the wall" or inaccurate.

"It's pretty right on," he said.

And people really use it to follow their interests, he said.

Of course, sometimes Lock-wood has to give some "reality therapy," he said.

"The job might not exist here."

It comes down to people choosing what is more important, he said, "a career or living here."

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