Peoples interests are strongly influenced by what they have experienced in life. The reality for many people with disabilities is that their life experiences have been very limited. As a result, a good planning process will need to include real opportunities for the individual to explore the world of work and develop preferences and interests. Good career exploration gathers information not only on specific interests and skills, but also on the personal characteristics and other attributes that the job seeker has to offer, and the work environments and culture that will be the best and most supportive fit.
Have you ever had a certain impression about what a certain field of work was like, only to have that impression change significantly once you worked in that field or explored it more closely? Like anyone else, people with disabilities may express an interest in a field, but have a limited understanding about what it entails. Additionally, they may have a finite view of the types of jobs that are available. The following are methods for helping people with disabilities (or any job seeker) determine what direction to go with their job search.
Assessment and Career Exploration Tools
Americas Labor Market Information System and Americas Career Kit has a number of excellent resources:
- Americas Career InfoNet (http://www.acinet.org), which includes a wealth of information on job trends, wages and national and local labor markets.
- O*NET Online (http://online.onetcenter.org/), is a database that describes a wide variety of occupations, their requisite skills, and earnings potential.
- O*NET Career Assessment and Exploration Tools, which include:
- Interest Profiler – A self-assessment career exploration tool, where participants identify and learn about broad interest areas most relevant to their-related interests.
- Work Importance Locator – A self-assessment career exploration tool which helps clarify what an individual finds most important in jobs.
- Ability Profiler – An ability assessment developed for counseling and career exploration which measure nine job-relevant abilities.
[Additional information on these O*NET tools is available at http://www.onetcenter.org/tools.html]
As with any other customer, One-Stop staff should help customers with disabilities use these and similar tools, for career assessment and exploration.