Using quality career information
At all stages of career development, you need to use good information about work and education options. As you or your children have questions about jobs and the industries they are found in or schools and the training programs or majors they offer, use information resources to find the answers. You cannot possibly know everything about work and education - it is OK not to have all of the answers! Take the opportunity to explore career information together.
The good news is that there is a great deal of information available. The bad news is that a lot of that information has limited value. We are bombarded daily with data and information in every conceivable form from friends, family, and colleagues, television, radio, newspapers, and now the Internet. We have to navigate our way through a bewildering array of pitches, suggestions, warnings, slogans, pictures, numbers, and sound bites. As individuals, it is very difficult to know what information to absorb and what to screen out. What is the wheat and what is the chaff?
Oregon offers a comprehensive career resource to schools, colleges, public agencies, and businesses that brings together the kinds of information and tools needed by career decision-makers of all ages. It is called the Oregon Career Information System (CIS). Most middle and high schools in Oregon have CIS available to their students and families. Ask the school counselor, librarian, or career center staff about how you can access it. (CIS is a password protected site; however, you can learn more about it at http://oregoncis.uoregon.edu/.) Oregon labor market information (OLMIS) is available online from the Oregon Employment Department at https://www.qualityinfo.org/.
What is good information?
What does "good" career information look like? Since there is so much information out there, professionals in the field of career development have defined characteristics that are critical. Here are the key criteria used to determine the value of career information:
- ACCURATE - The information must be true, verifiable, and not deceptive. Accurate career information is based on empirical data and can be validated by comparing sources or checking for internal consistency.
- CURRENT - The information must be applicable to the present time. Keeping information current requires a process of eliminating the old and adding the new. While some types of information are more perishable than others, it is generally accepted that occupation and education information should be reviewed and updated at least annually to be current.
- RELEVANT - Relevant information applies to the interests of the individuals who use it for the decisions they are facing. It should reduce a person's uncertainties about work and education while facilitating choice and planning. Since we live and work in local labor markets rather than in national ones, the better the description of local conditions, the more relevant it is to us. State and local information is usually more valuable than national.
- SPECIFIC - For information to be specific, it must contain concrete facts. General observations are often interesting and can provide a background for further analysis, but specific facts are essential to realistic planning and decision making.
- UNDERSTANDABLE - People using information must be able to comprehend it before they can use it. Data must be analyzed and converted into words. The content of the message should avoid ambiguities and be informative to the intended audiences.
- COMPREHENSIVE - The information should include all the important categories within its scope of coverage. In CIS that includes the full range of occupational opportunities, their related educational programs of study and training, and the schools that offer them as the core. Related to that is information about money for school, looking for work, employers and industries, working for yourself, and so on.
- UNBIASED - This characteristic is about the motivation or purpose for which the information is being produced and delivered. It is unbiased when the individual or organization delivering the information has no vested interest in the decisions or plans of the people who are receiving the information.
- COMPARABLE - The information presented should be of uniform collection, analysis, content, and format so that you can compare and contrast the various occupations, programs of study, and schools.
These are some of the most important qualities that quality resources strive to achieve in making information useful for planning and decision-making. Oregon resources like CIS and OLMIS should be the place to start, but they are not the only sources of information available nor should they be the only sources someone uses. Information obtained from lots of sources creates a better picture and is more likely to result in successful career decisions and sound educational plans. Though it can sometimes be confusing and even conflicting, each source has its own unique strengths and limitations.
Adapted from the Idaho Career Information System with