Kuder Career Search (KCS) represents the third generation of interest inventories known as the Kuder Preference Records. First was the Kuder Preference Record—Vocational, which gave scores on 10 vocational interest scales. Next was the Occupational, which reported occupations that were similar to the inventory takers’ interests.
The KCS consists of two kinds of scales. One, the Kuder Career Clusters, reveals the similarity of the inventory taker’s activity preferences to those of people in certain clusters of occupations. The unique second score gives Person Matches, which reflects the similarity of the inventory taker’s interest profile to each person in a pool of some 2,000 employed adults.
Available only online at www.kuder.com, the KCS is suitable for middle and high school students, 2- and 4-year college students, and adults. Individual purchases are available, but the inventory is typically administered in school as part of a career development program. The reading level is approximately sixth grade, and administration time averages 15 to 20 minutes. The inventory consists of 60 triads of activities: draw sketches of birds, build boats, sort mail in a post office, and so on, which the respondent rank-orders by preference. Scoring is instantaneous with the last response, and an online report yields a profile of cluster scores plus the job titles of the top 12 Person Matches.
Supporting materials for the KCS include two other assessments, the Kuder Skills Assessment, in both school and college or adult levels and the Super’s Work Values Inventory, occupational and college information, a portfolio that can be made to generate a college or job application and an administrator’s management system.
The KCS report emphasizes ranks, not scores. Mature users who are motivated to study their results and seek further information may use their results independently. High school and middle school students, especially those who are little motivated to consider their future careers, will benefit from competent attention.
The materials lend themselves to both individual and group applications. They may be used in individual counseling, in school settings as a component of an ongoing advising or career development program, or as an instructional unit in the regular classroom. Individual or small group interpretation may facilitate students in identifying diverse ways of realizing an occupational goal, such as nursing, teaching nursing, or becoming a nursing administrator.
Lower reliabilities for interest measurement at middle school ages suggest that the KCS is best used to develop or clarify an occupational self-concept or to prioritize several possible career paths. In high school, the KCS supports more refined career exploration such as making plans for a college major and selecting valid occupational possibilities. At the college level, the inventory may be used with individuals who have not chosen a major field of study or with those who need to replace an unsatisfactory choice. Among adults, the KCS may suggest career possibilities to replace a lost job or to suggest more satisfying occupational roles.
Kuder Career Clusters
Kuder Career Cluster scales may appear on the surface to be homogeneous types of interest scales. In fact, they are criterion group scales formed from clusters of related occupations from a pool of employed adults, roughly representing the breadth of career opportunities in the United States. The KCS is scored for six clusters, corresponding to the well-known Big Six interest dimensions: Outdoor/Mechanical, Science/Technical, Arts/Communication, Social/Personal Services, Sales/ Management, and Business Operations. Scales customized to other schema, such as the States’ 16 Clusters, have been constructed as well. Clusters are presented on-screen in rank order of their percentile scores, based on a general norm group of 8,791 males and females from middle school to adult. It is suggested that users give primary consideration to their top two ranking clusters.
Person Match compares the activity preference profile of the inventory taker with those of each of the individuals in the Person-Match Pool and selects by means of correlational analysis the individuals who are most similar. The yield may be of persons all in the same occupational field, although with differing job titles, or it may consist of individuals in several occupations. Nevertheless, all of the people involved, the interest inventory taker and the person matches, all have relatively similar reported interests.
If a person’s similarity to another person is the fundamental information yielded by the KCS, that information must be more fully developed than a simple job title. Thus, inventory takers are provided with job sketches of their top matches. In general, these sketches offer a first-person account of what the individual does at work, sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, previous occupations, and plans for the future. The job sketches are far from uniform, emphasizing aspects that have personal meaning to the incumbent and presumably engaging the interest of the inventory taker in the possibility of the represented career.
Although no empirical test of the utility of job sketches compared to occupational titles from other interest assessments has been undertaken, their potential value is underscored by the proliferation of books offering interview materials with satisfied workers.
The text of the report for the KCS contains many links to information that elaborates the content of the on-screen report. Users may click on any cluster to obtain a definition of that cluster or click on any job title to open the corresponding entry in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which offers additional information such as income levels, the employment outlook, and links to college majors, financial aid, and the like.
Further technical details and psychometrics of the KCS are available in the user manual available at www.Kuder.com.
Users of interest inventories often are heard to say, “The test says I should be a … .” In the case of the KCS, the test says two things, but never as a should. One is activity preferences, which might be best represented as, “Your top preference appears to be (name of highest-ranking Kuder cluster), and your next preference is (name of second-raking cluster).” The other concerns person matches, about which the counselor may say, “You have interests like those of . . .” naming several job titles (all of which may or may not be in the same occupation) and “You really can learn a lot about yourself by giving their job sketches a reading.” Emphasis should always be given to the theme, “These people like the same things you like; they are similar to you,” and followed up, “Why don’t you see what else you can find out about their careers?”
- Kuder Career Planning System: http://www.Kuder.com