What's all the Hype About?
If you only recently learned of PathwayU, you may be wondering what the hype is about. PathwayU is an online career guidance platform. We call it the career and educational compass. The platform was born in a research lab in a department of psychology and is the product of many years of painstaking research and development. The inspiration for PathwayU was rooted in a desire to help students and job-seekers understand themselves better, and to connect them with work opportunities that fit them well. To accomplish the first part of this objective--helping people gain a deeper understanding of themselves--it is essential to provide people with accurate information about how they are unique. But what kind of “accurate information?” Many instruments available on the market assess one particular type of attribute, like personality types, strengths, or aptitudes. However, we believe that a full-orbed understanding of what makes someone unique requires not just one attribute, but several. We scoured the research literature until we found four types of traits that met the following criteria:
- They must be highly stable. If people are using scores on measurement scales to inform decisions with long-term consequences, it is crucial that we are measuring traits that remain consistent over time. Think about it. If you love culinary arts now, it would only make sense to pursue a career that involves culinary arts if you are confident you’d still love it ten years from now, right? Some traits are more stable than others, and we wanted to include only the most stable ones.
- They must be measured accurately. If a scale measuring a stable trait gives you a different score every time, it’s no good. If it gives you a certain score consistently, but that score is wrong (i.e., not valid), it’s no good. We wanted to use instruments that met high standards for reliability and validity, because accuracy is essential.
- They must be measured efficiently. If a measure takes forever for people to complete, they will get tired and frustrated. That’s no good. We prioritized measures that are short—as short as we could find or create without sacrificing our high standards for accuracy.
- They must predict outcomes. If knowing my scores on a certain set of traits can’t help me figure out which choice is going to be more likely to lead to good outcomes, it’s just not all that helpful. We wanted traits that predict outcomes.
In the end, four attributes met these criteria: interests (what you enjoy), work values (what is important to you in a work environment), personality (your characteristic traits, or how others experience you), and workplace preferences (the cultural values your ideal organization would promote). So PathwayU gives you scores on these four attributes.
Helping people understand how they are unique is very helpful, but we knew that it would only get people so far. Since the information PathwayU gathers is predictive, we wanted to harness its predictive power by presenting people with career matches that would likely fit them well, based on their unique combinations of scores. So PathwayU includes a Career Match tool, one that links users to a wealth of information about career paths predicted to fit them well. The matches are made using algorithms we’ve developed, tested, and patented.
Exploring connections to career paths is helpful; doing so fosters a sense of direction. But examining fit to a broad occupation is one thing. It is quite another to examine fit to specific job openings. Knowing this, we developed a Job Connector tool within PathwayU. Users can search for jobs by U.S. zip code or by simply inputting the name of a town; it will generate a list of open jobs in that area, sortable by how well they are predicted to fit you. You can read all the job descriptions you like to get a clearer sense of what opportunities are out there. When the time comes, you can even apply for those jobs directly from the platform.
Finally, job-seekers need assistance in preparing for a successful job search—updating their resume, navigating a job fair, prepping for an interview, and hopefully negotiating a job offer. PathwayU provides self-help tools to assist in preparing for all of these steps in the process. And there is much more to the platform than this.