Person Matching

Person MatchingOne of the first and even now most-used tools of career counselors is the interest inventory. Inventories currently in use may be described as taking either of two approaches. One tells a person the relative strengths of his or her interests; the other tells the person what occupations have similar interests as his or hers. The first approach reports, “Your interests are strongest in science.” The other matches a person with occupations, reporting, “You have interests like those of engineers (or doctors, or other scientific occupations).”

Frederic Kuder, a long-time author of interest inventories of both kinds, speculated that a person can be similar to, say, an engineer, but in reality is more similar to a particular engineer engaged in a particular job. Kuder suggested replacing occupation matching with person matching. In the person-match approach, the interest inventory results answer the question “What are people with interests like mine doing for a living?” instead of offering an occupational title. As well, the inventory taker is presented with a number job sketches, reflecting what several people, not necessarily all engineers, who have similar interests as the inventory taker actually do every day. Kuder’s assertion is that this should be more informative, and perhaps more motivating, to people seeking career options than a single occupational title.

Kuder and his associates developed the Kuder Career Search with Person Match to replace his Kuder Preference Record and the Kuder Occupational Interest Survey. Like the earlier interest inventories, it consists of triads of activities from which the respondent must choose the most and least preferred. Person matches are assessed by comparing the inventory taker’s own interest profile with the profiles of approximately 2,000 adults in a wide variety of occupations using a mathematical rubric similar to those used for book purchase or movie rental recommendations.

The results of the Kuder Career Search are presented in two forms. One is a score profile in percentages of the relative strengths of six types of activity preferences. The novel Person Match report consists of the self-assigned occupational titles of a dozen members of the personal match pool whose interest profiles are most similar to that of the interest inventory taker. The inventory taker may open a self-reported, one-page job sketch from their top matches.

The job sketches are much like an interview. Questions are asked by the Kuder Career coach, such as, “What’s a typical day at work for you?” “How did you get into this line of work?” “What are the positives and negatives in your job?” and “What are your plans for the future?” Finally, the Kuder coach offers observations, pointing out unique aspects of the person’s work or features of the person’s career pattern.

Many persons would be well-served by learning of the careers of older individuals who have interests like their own: middle school students who are just beginning to make career plans, high school students who are selecting college programs, college students who are nearing graduation, older workers who are experiencing job displacement, and even retirees who are seeking to continue at work.