MicroSkills IV (MSIV), a skills inventory program developed by EUREKA, The California Career Information System in 1983, is a vital part of the career development process. MSIV is also a component of functional résumé writing. MSIV gives the client the opportunity to answer the question "what have I done, and what can I do in the future"
In our Counseling 252 course – Career and Life Planning – students take a variety of inventories that they integrate into a Career Guide Paper. We start with "The Party Game" from "What Color is Your Parachute", go to the Career Center for OccUSort (EUREKA CCIS); and assess personality, values and the Group Skills Identification process in the classroom. In their paper, the students must identify and discuss their Holland Codes from The Party Game and MSIV, and any occupation matches between OUS and MSIV. A discussion of personality type and values is last and inferences can be drawn from a EUREKA occupational printout.
Because MSIV is not a normed and standardized assessment, reliability and validity is not a factor (although a case was once made for construct validity). MSIV uses a 'goodness of fit' logic, which maintains that relationships exist in degrees, and that a person may be happy or satisfied in a career that may not match their desires one hundred percent. This type of logic is an influential component to the career decision making process, and enables people to feel more empowered. Additionally, it absolves the career planning facilitator from the request for THE LIST: such as a list of employers who are hiring, a list of networking contacts in a particular field, or a list of every possible career that a person in a particular field could have...
Although the results from MSIV are easily interpreted by students, I enjoy facilitating that process. My favorite is the 'quick' approach, whereby the student tells me what they plan to do with their major. Using the 'past jobs' function of MSIV, we quickly derive a printout of the 35 basic, functional, transferable skills that match that occupation. Then a discussion can be had focusing on the 5 Very important ('you might need to use these every day') 10 Moderate (weekly) and 20 Somewhat satisfying skills (monthly or as needed.) That's an 'a-ha' moment. I find most students are clear about their requirements for future work, but less so about what employers want. In fact, that is another facet of MSIV in that employability skills continue to be a focus for the workforce. The MSIV 'ratings' component can give career planning professionals an opportunity to explore with a student issues of decidedness, diverse skills, or a high or low degree of enthusiasm and dedication to the workplace. The self-management, situational, interpersonal and leadership functional skill categories align with the SCANS foundation skills and workplace competencies.
Lastly, the 'Comparisons' module gives me the opportunity to explore more fully the matches, or lack thereof between three occupations that the student chose in advance of their skill identification process. Using the Related Skills Comparison summary (sample attached), I put the printout in front of the student and using my upside down highlighting ability, go down through the skills that are a 'fit' match for the occupation. We can have a discussion about the matches and 'not' matches as well as one about values in terms of occupational choice. And that is the value of MicroSkills.
Lea Beth Lewis, Ed.D. Certified Career Counselor. Assistant Dean, Student Affairs Cal State Fullerton.
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