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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Strong Assessment Interpretation Hints - When Students Don't Like Their Top Occupations

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Written by Jim Larkin

"What if I don’t want to do any of these top 10 Occupations?"
Have you ever heard a student say that when you are going over their Strong Interest Inventory® (Strong) results? I’ve heard that one before. The thing we need to do as Career Counselors is draw the students’ attention away from specifics, this or that occupation, and move them over to trends. Look at the top 10 occupations and draw out General Occupational Theme trends. The Strong assessment lists only 122 occupations per gender. In no way does it intend for the student to choose from only those occupations. The Holland Dictionary of Occupations contains thousands of occupations—all of them assigned with a General Occupational Theme code. Our goal is to help the students identify a few Themes that they can then focus their search on.

The Strong Interest Inventory® Manual: Revised Edition offers another approach:

“…scores indicating similar interest in [for instance] “Production Worker” suggest an interest in the production and processing of tangible goods that might be linked to other occupational areas such as engineering, supply chain management, or construction… no interest inventory can provide scales that will measure the respondent’s interests in every occupation or academic major. Thus, generalizing the OSs to additional occupations and majors of the same type can greatly expand the usefulness of the instrument.” (Pg. 171)

Another approach takes advantage of programs such as O*NET™. On this site you will find listings for thousands of occupations that provide job descriptions, typical work tasks, work environment, expected pay scales and even projected job availability. By using the job descriptions, you can pull out specific tasks that appeal to the student and begin to see another trend. So, instead of identifying other occupational areas, like the manual suggests, you can find trends within those appealing tasks. By putting these tasks together on a list you can then start to create job descriptions and look for jobs that most closely reflect their dream job. You will also notice that O*NET assigns GOT codes to the occupations. One caveat here, the codes associated with jobs on O*NET relate to the tasks, not interests. So, GOT codes on the Strong assessment will not necessarily match the codes on the O*NET. Just something to keep in mind.

So, next time you hear “I don’t want to do any of those jobs!” you can start this simple process that may use “those” jobs to help you find the right one. Good luck!

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