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What do employers really want?

When it comes to finding the right candidates for a job, what qualities and skills are most important to today’s employers? The answers may surprise you.

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), teamwork, problem solving, organizational skills, and effective communication all rated more highly than “technical knowledge related to the job” (Job Outlook 2014).

NACE collected the survey data from 208 college recruiting professionals during the summer of 2013. Respondents rated each quality/skill on a five-point scale. “Ability to work in a team structure” had an average weighted rating of 4.55. Less highly rated—but still important—qualities included “ability to obtain and process information,” “ability to analyze quantitative data,” and “ability to sell or influence others.”

How can employers evaluate a potential employee’s skills in areas that seem so subjective? Other than word-of-mouth recommendations, how can employers assess whether a candidate is a team player, an analytical thinker, or an influential leader?

The new Working Styles Assessment™ (WSA™) from PAR measures 18 distinct workplace personality constructs (or “working styles”) such as initiative, concern for others, analytical thinking, and conscientiousness. The WSA helps job seekers gain a better understanding of their personal work preferences and how they approach a variety of situations in the workplace; it also helps hiring managers identify the working styles they value in employees and select applicants based on the degree to which they fit the working styles most needed for a particular position.

To learn more about the WSA and how it can help employers and job seekers to find the right match, visit the PAR Web site today!

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Mental disorders are most costly medical expense for children

According to a just-released statistical brief from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, mental disorders were the most costly medical expenditure for those under 18 years of age during 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available. More than 5.6 million children were treated for mental disorders at a mean expenditure of $2,465 each, for a total expense of $13.8 billion. In 2011, $117.6 billion was spent overall on the medical care and treatment of children.

The top five medical conditions that ranked highest in terms of spending included mental disorders, asthma ($11.9 billion), trauma-related disorders ($5.8 billion), acute bronchitis and upper respiratory infections ($3.3 billion), and otitis media ($3.2 billion). Although mental disorders affected the fewest number of children of the other top five medical conditions, they had the highest average expense per child.

In 2008, mental disorders ranked as the fifth most commonly treated condition; according to survey data, the expense per child has remained steady.

Nearly half the expenditures for mental disorders in children were paid by Medicaid.

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Something to Brag About…

Last week, PAR took home two titles that we are especially proud to share.

On March 29,  PAR staff and our favorite furry friends turned a rainy day into a walk to remember to support the Humane Society of Tampa Bay’s Bark in the Park event. Although the walk ended up being rained out just after our team picture, the PARty Animals were thrilled to take home top fundraising honors while showing our support for such a worthy organization.

Also, for the fourth consecutive year, PAR has received the Gold Achievement Award from the American Heart Association for promoting employee wellness, making PAR a Fit-Friendly Worksite. We are proud to promote the importance of healthy living and wellness in the workplace!

To learn more about the many ways PAR staff give back to the community, visit our Community PARtners page.

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A Fresh New Look for the PAR Blog

The PAR blog now has a sleek, modern look that’s not only attractive but easy to read and navigate, as well.  Updated weekly, our blog is a great forum to catch up on news about psychology and assessment, find links to new research studies, sign up for a Webinar, meet our authors, learn about a conference, or even watch a video about a new product or service.

We know that a lot of you are reading the blog, and now we’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to become an active participant. At the top of each post, just below the headline, there is a “Leave a comment” button. Interested in the topic or have something to add? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment—or respond to a colleague’s comment.

Looking for a blog on a particular topic? Skim recent blogs, browse previous issues by category or date, or search the “tag cloud” on the righthand side of the page—just click on a word in the cloud to find posts related to that key word.

If you’ve arrived at our blog through an existing bookmark, be sure to go to the new site (http://blog.parinc.com) and update your bookmark so that you can see our updated look and access the new features.

We hope you find our blog useful and you like our new look.  And as always…we want to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!

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Extroverts Vs. Introverts: New Study Examines their Perceived Value in the Workplace

A recent study by researchers from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management suggests that although extroverts are initially held in higher esteem in the workplace, self-described neurotics and those who are socially withdrawn tend to gain respect over time while their outwardly confident co-workers lose status. As time passes, neurotics tend to exceed expectations and are perceived as hard workers, while extroverts are seen to coast—and this is the case even if the two groups make similar contributions. In a recent New York Times article, lead author Corinne Bendersky describes her findings and suggests that the patterns she found reflect the value of creating low expectations.

Bendersky’s study included two parts. In the first part, graduate students completed a survey about their own personalities and how they viewed others in their work groups. Initially, the more confident students were perceived as being stronger contributors. But when the survey was repeated ten weeks later, the perception of the introverts had improved, while the extroverts lost status.

In the second part of the study, students were presented with a hypothetical situation: a co-worker named John was assigned to help them finish a project. John was described to half of the students as neurotic and to the other half as extroverted. As predicted, students initially expected that extroverted John would be a more effective contributor. Next, some students were told that even though he was busy, John had agreed to work late; others were told that John was too busy and had to leave early. In both cases, students were less critical of neurotic John’s contributions, while extroverted John was seen as disappointing—even when he was generous with his time.

The findings may also suggest that people perceive the values of personality and contribution differently. Extroverted personalities are overvalued but their contributions can be undervalued; introverted personalities tend not to be valued, but their contributions are sometimes overvalued—they seem to be given the benefit of the doubt.

What are the implications of this research for hiring managers and team leaders? In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, Bendersky cautions against hiring too many extroverts. “The core of an extroverted personality is to be attention-seeking,” she says. “It turns out they just keep talking, they don’t listen very well, and they’re not very receptive to other people’s input. They don’t contribute as much as people think they will.”

What do you think? What combinations of personality traits make up the most effective teams where you work? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!

 

PAR Receives United Way’s “Spirit of Tampa Bay” Award

This month, PAR was honored to be named as a recipient of the “Spirit of Tampa Bay” award from United Way’s Suncoast Chapter. United Way explains that the award is their way of recognizing companies that go “above and beyond” in organizing and energizing fundraising, volunteerism, and community engagement at their workplaces.

Cathy Smith, PAR’s Vice President of Community Relations, was thrilled to accept the award at a special half-time ceremony during a recent Tampa Bay Lightning game. For this honor, however, she credits PAR employees for their commitment and enthusiasm for helping others.

“From our beginning more than 35 years ago, PAR’s mission has included giving back to the community,” Cathy explains. Helping children and families in Tampa Bay is a special priority, and PAR employees have participated in a wide range of United Way Suncoast programs that support literacy, mental health, nutrition, and much more. “Staff participation was always strong,” says Cathy, “but about 15 years ago, we reached the milestone of 100% employee participation—and we’ve maintained that every year since.”

Each year, a large contingent from PAR participates in United Way’s annual Day of Caring, which brings together volunteer teams to tackle various projects that most agencies could never undertake on their own. Last fall, PAR staff helped organize supplies and donations at the Family Resource Center, a wonderful organization that helped more than 11,000 low-income and at-risk families in Hillsborough County last year.

United Way Pledge Week is one of the most fun weeks of the year at PAR. The week includes a series of games (with treats and prizes), from the hotly contested annual Scrabble competition to a ride-like-there’s-no-tomorrow tricycle race through our Distribution Center! The culmination of the week is a luncheon featuring speakers from local organizations who have benefited from PAR’s support through United Way—a wonderful way to end pledge week on a high note.

To learn more about PAR’s ongoing commitment to United Way and to other community service projects, visit our Community PARtners Web page.

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Introducing Two New Assessments From Cecil R. Reynolds

PAR is pleased to announce the release of two new tests of intelligence and reasoning ability by Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD — the Reynolds Adaptable Intelligence Test™ (RAIT™) and the Test of General Reasoning Ability™ (TOGRA™).

The RAIT is a rapid, reliable, and valid intelligence test designed for group or individual administration.RAIT

  • Composed of seven subtests that assess crystallized intelligence, fluid intelligence, and quantitative aptitude or intelligence.
  • Designed to provide continuity of measurement across a wide age span.
  • Can be used to help users determine a child’s educational placement and diagnose various forms of childhood psychopathology; as a measure of intelligence in general clinical and neuropsychological evaluations; as part of evaluations for the diagnosis of specific disorders; in disability determinations under various state and federal programs; and as a measure of aptitude in human resources/employment settings.

Composed of items from the RAIT, the TOGRA is a speeded measure of reasoning ability and problem-solving skills.TOGRA

  • Offers a wider variety of item content and greater test score stability than competing measures.
  • Requires only 16 minutes for administration and 2-3 minutes for scoring.
  • Appropriate in many settings whenever a speeded measure of reasoning ability and problem solving under pressure is considered useful, including in the evaluation of students for giftedness, athletes, managerial and executive-level staff, and public safety officer candidates.
  • Two equivalent alternate forms (Blue and Green) enable users to retest and monitor progress without concern for practice effects.
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Understanding Workplace Personality: New Assessment Helps Job Seekers and Employers Find the Right Match

Beyond the technical requirements of the job, what are the workplace personality traits that lead to success in a specific work environment? Understanding the personality traits needed for a particular job or workplace can be the key to a good career choice—a match that works for both employee and employer.

The new Working Styles Assessment™ (WSA™) from PAR is a measure of work-related personality traits such as initiative, persistence, concern for others, self-control, conscientiousness, and analytical thinking. By measuring these traits, career counselors can help their clients find jobs they love—and employers can find workers who have what it takes for success on the job.

The WSA is the only workplace personality assessment that uses the current Occupational Information Network (O*NET) terminology, which means that the personality traits measured by the WSA can be compared to the traits associated with hundreds of current occupations listed in the O*NET database.

The WSA helps create a win-win situation for job seekers and employers:

  • Career counselors can help their clients use the WSA to identify their own strengths and explore the career options that are most likely to be a good fit.
  • HR professionals can decide which traits are most important for a given job and then use the WSA to identify candidates who have those traits.
  • Job seekers can look up interesting jobs on the O*NET and compare the working styles required by those jobs to their own working styles.

The WSA is a useful complement to the recently released 5th Edition of the Self-Directed Search® (SDS®), John Holland’s gold standard career interest inventory. The WSA will also soon be available on PARiConnect, PAR’s online assessment platform.

To learn more about the WSA and other career products from PAR, visit www.parinc.com or call Customer Support at 1.800.331.8378.

Learn More About the Vocabulary Assessment Scales

vas_erA picture may be worth 1,000 words, but sometimes a Webinar is better. Join us on Wednesday, February 26th at 12 PM EST for Introduction to the Vocabulary Assessment Scales, a one-hour Webinar presented by Senior Clinical Assessment Consultant Julie Alexander, PhD, NCSP. Delve into the details about this innovative new measure and learn how the Vocabulary Assessment Scales−Expressive (VAS−E) and Vocabulary Assessment Scales−Receptive (VAS−R) can help you measure vocabulary throughout the lifespan using full-color photographs. Realistic photographs are easily discernible and more ecologically valid than line drawings—giving your students and clients every opportunity to show you what they know.

Register now for this insightful Webinar. Space is limited!

Unable to attend the Webinar, but interested in learning more about the VAS−E and VAS−R? Watch an interview with author Rebecca Gerhardstein Nader, PhD.

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PAR Staff Arrive at NASP 2014

Get ready, Washington, DC! PAR staff have arrived in our nation’s capital for the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Annual Convention. If you are attending NASP, be sure to stop by the PAR booth to learn about some of our new products, including the Working Styles Assessment™ (WSA™) and the Self-Directed Search®, 5th Edition.

Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD, author of the Reynolds Adaptable Intelligence Test™ (RAIT™) and the Test of General Reasoning Ability™ (TOGRA™) will be presenting tomorrow, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. His session, titled “Two New Adaptable Reliable Intelligence Measures for Busy Practitioners,” will cover the development, application, and research involved in creating these two new assessments.