25 Jul 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with Consultant Dr. Melanie Kinser

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs. As a consultant, Melanie Kinser, PhD, leverages her understanding of psychology and business to help leaders and safety professionals strengthen organizational culture and in turn, strengthen their bottom line. Learn how you can apply your psychology education to a similar career path.

Melanie Kinser, PhDSpeaker:
Melanie Kinser, PhD, focuses on translating complex topics into practical strategies that are realistic for her client's demanding work environments. Her clients include Fortune 500's, startups, and non-profits. She has partnered with organizations in the US, Canada and Australia in industries such as Technology, Healthcare, Energy, Pipeline Construction, Manufacturing, Higher Education and Nuclear. She has a Master’s and Doctorate in School Psychology from the University of Missouri. Dr. Kinser has published articles on organizational change and leadership development as well as presenting at several national conferences.

Garth Fowler, PhDHost:

Garth A. Fowler, PhD, is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

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21 Jul 2017

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

In this 3-part web series, you'll learn the fundamentals of servant leadership, a leader or an organization that seeks first to serve others. The presentations cover effective communication, managing people and processes and positively transforming people and organizations. *This series is eligible for CE credit. Earn 1 CE credit for each session.

Each program runs about 1 hour:

Leadership and Communication

No communication skill is more important than listening. Knowing the basic barriers and shortfalls of communication and doing something about them is a big step in improving our ability to communicate effectively.

Leading and Managing People and Processes

In order to accomplish a mission, establishing a process is important. However, people complete the processes and ensure the mission is accomplished. Learn the importance of maintaining a dual focus on people and processes.

Leaders Implementing Positive Change

It takes strong leadership to help people and an organization transition in order to make a change. Change is the event, transition is the means of getting there. Learn what it takes to implement positive change by focusing on the transition process.

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23 Jun 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with NIH Technology and Innovation Executive Dr. Matthew McMahon

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs. As the Director of the Office of Translational Alliances and Coordination at the NIH’s Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Dr. Matthew McMahon uses his psychology background to help academic researchers convert their laboratory discoveries into therapies and cures through entrepreneurship and product development training, seed funding for projects, and mentoring by business and industry experts. Learn how you can apply your psychology education to a similar career path.

Matthew McMahonSpeaker:

Matthew McMahon, PhD, leads the Office of Translational Alliances and Coordination to enable the development and commercialization of research discoveries funded by the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Dr. McMahon previously created and led the National Eye Institute’s Office of Translational Research to advance ophthalmic technologies through public-private partnerships with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. His previous experience includes service as the principal scientist for the bionic eye company Second Sight Medical Products and as a staff member on the Senate and House of Representatives committees responsible for science, technology, and innovation policy.

Garth FowlerHost:

Garth A. Fowler, PhD, is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

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20 Jun 2017

Psychology Offers Many Options When It’s Time to Take a Different Direction

Psychology Offers Many Options When It’s Time to Take a Different Direction
Patricia Arredondo, EdD, had been working as an assistant professor for three years at Boston University when she realized she had to re-route her career plans. Even though she had a strong track record of publications and was leading a three-year federally funded grant, a professor told her she was not going to get tenure.

The news rattled her confidence, but also fueled her motivation to seek out alternatives. So, she attended career planning workshops and evaluated her interests and skills. At a guided meditation at one of the workshops, Arredondo imagined what she wanted to be doing in 10 years, and envisioned a job that would allow more creativity and interaction with the public.

That reflection led her to launch Empowerment Workshops Inc., a consulting business focused on helping companies create and implement a diversity strategy in the workplace, often working to increase the presence of women and ethnic minorities. "Each time it was like working with a new client in therapy because every organization had a different narrative to tell, and the variety gave me an opportunity to be creative and adaptable," she says.

Arredondo later returned to academia when she was ready for another transition, and eventually moved into administrative roles at several universities. Her latest position was president of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago campus.

Arredondo's story is just one example of a psychologist who for one reason or another decided to make a career change.

"We all experience some type of work transition whether we choose it or not," says Patrick Rottinghaus, PhD, an associate professor of counseling psychology at the University of Missouri in Columbia. "The occupational landscape is different now than in the past. Most people shift careers multiple times."

Some are forced to make changes involuntarily when there are layoffs, an organization closes or senior workers are asked to retire, says Nadya Fouad, PhD, chair of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Some make subtle changes by, for example, moving from one practice specialty area to another. Others retire and take on psychology-related volunteer work. Others voluntarily opt to revamp their careers when they start feeling restless or want to gain new expertise.

"Most people who choose to make a change voluntarily have been thinking about it for a long time," says Sue Motulsky, EdD, associate professor of counseling and psychology at Lesley University in Massachusetts. "They may start noticing signs of burnout, such as loss of interest in what they're doing, mistakes and lack of judgment or increased impatience."

Whatever the reasons may be for contemplating a new direction, the prospect of making a career shift can be daunting. Here's some advice from experts in vocational psychology and psychologists who have successfully navigated a transition.

See a career counselor

The process of career transition is not easy, and it is especially difficult to do in isolation, says Motulsky, who maintains a private practice in career counseling in addition to her work as a professor. "This is almost impossible to do by yourself, and a counselor will help you start the journey of exploring your options."

A counselor can provide self-assessment inventories that will tease out vocational interests, skills, values and life roles, which all come into play when making a career change, explains Rottinghaus. Motulsky also encourages psychologists to consider seeing a career counselor who has a doctorate because he or she will understand what is involved in earning this degree and how that investment of time and money can influence career decisions.

Listening to your frustration can be good

Sherry Benton, PhDSherry Benton, PhD, felt overwhelmed by the demands of directing a university counseling center, but her frustration took her in a different direction.

"I really liked doing therapy and working with students, but I found it intolerable that we didn't have the capacity to treat everyone who needed help," says Benton, who directed the Counseling & Wellness Center at the University of Florida. "If we made students wait a month for an appointment, that could have a significant impact on their well-being."

She searched for models to increase access and capacity, and discovered a tool in Australia that used brief phone contact with a therapist and online educational modules to teach cognitive behavioral strategies. She created her own version of the program, which included interactive online education and a dashboard that enabled therapists to track a patient's progress. For example, therapists could see details of patient entries in the interactive exercises and how patients were rating their behavioral health at different points in time. She tried the new model at the wellness center, and it was so successful that she started a business to market the product.

Benton hired four employees, and TAO (Therapist Assisted Online) officially launched in July 2015. TAO offers online tools for client education, interaction, accountability and progress assessment. For example, the modules include animation and real actors portraying situations that clients can relate to as well as interactive exercises.

"It's really scary and completely worth it," Benton says. "It's satisfying to pursue your dream and make it happen, but it's not easy. I would describe it as a mix of elation and terror."

Be honest with yourself

Robert Youmans, PhD and familyRobert Youmans, PhD, started his career as an assistant professor specializing in applied cognition, but he slowly discovered that the world of academia what not what he had envisioned. Although he enjoyed teaching—first at California State University, Northridge, then at George Mason University in Virginia—it was difficult to find funding in his area of interest, design thinking and processes.

Living on a faculty salary was also trying, and he started consulting on the side to supplement his income. He founded Human Factors Design Consulting and worked with companies that needed his expertise in user experience research. The work was lucrative, and he enjoyed building new products. "It was an odd experience," he says. "On one hand, I had more work offers coming in from companies than I had time to accept, but at the same time I had trouble getting funding to study those areas within academia."

He made numerous contacts through his business, and they would often suggest that he apply for full-time positions at their companies, but he wasn't ready to leave academia. Finally, in 2013 he was open to a career change. He and his wife were expecting their first child, which elevated his sense of financial responsibility. In 2014, he accepted a position as a user-experience researcher in a product area called Streams, Photos and Sharing at Google.

"When I was younger I had these romantic notions of what it meant to be a professor, but the day-to-day of being a professor wasn't always what I had hoped it would be," Youmans says. He knew he would miss teaching, and was nervous about leaving his colleagues and job security, but he hasn't looked back. "Now I'm doing interesting and rigorous science research—and I earn many times what I earned in academia," he says.

Be open to change

Andrew Adler, EdD, had worked as a school psychologist in Nashville, Tennessee, for 28 years when he started considering retirement. He was surprised when a recruiter called to see if he was interested in a job as a mental health clinical director contracted to the Tennessee Department of Correction. He had experience working with students whose parents were incarcerated, and had previously consulted as a psychologist in the Tennessee prison system. So, recognizing he had the right background, he accepted the job in 2012.

"School psychology set me up well for working in a prison," Adler says. "Prisons, like schools, serve all of society and have people with a range of social problems and diagnoses. Inmates are ripe for remedial and rehabilitative support."

Like Adler, Joyce Jadwin, PsyD, started working in the prison system a few years ago. Unlike him, it was her first full-time job as a psychologist. She managed a program for female sex offenders in Ohio, but after a year in the role she realized the work was not a match with her interests.

"I wanted to use skills beyond being an individual provider," says Jadwin, who had worked as a college administrator before she earned her doctorate in psychology. "I was used to making independent decisions and influencing policy and procedure."

Jadwin applied for a role as assistant director of faculty development in the medical school at Ohio University, and got the job. "My psychology training allows me to bring a clinical perspective to my role, which gives me credibility with physicians because I understand what they are going through in the medical world."

Start now

Although it's natural to implement many of these strategies when a job transition is imminent, Rottinghaus urges psychologists to take time to nurture career development each year. He often uses Jane Goodman's "Dental Model," which advises people to conduct a career check-up annually, like a regular visit to the dentist. Taking time regularly to evaluate job satisfaction and reiterate long-term goals can reduce the chances of frustration later, he says.

"Strategically engage with mentors over time, even when times are good," Rottinghaus says. "Once you get out into the workforce, nurture those mentoring relationships so you can articulate your professional objectives. Mentors are there to provide support, and they may have connections if you need to transition into another role or setting."

Without such strategies and an overall plan to guide them, people are at risk of letting others define their career trajectories and reacting to events rather than defining their own future, he says. In fact, most people who make a career transition wish they had done it sooner, says Motulsky.

"If you let yourself explore different options that you are drawn to, you may discover something that will make life more satisfying and meaningful," she says. "I've seen many people go through the career process and find a job that makes them far happier, which is important because most people spend a lot of time at work."

Ready for a change?

  1. Talk to a career counselor to guide you through self-assessment.
  2. Listen to your frustrations since they can lead you to new paths.
  3. Do a gut check. Is this really what you want in your life?
  4. Don't wait. Most people who make a switch wish they had done it sooner.

By Heather Stringer


This article was originally published in the September 2016 Monitor on Psychology

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20 Jun 2017

What Do Superheroes and Psychologists Have in Common? monitorLIVE Event Explores the Intersection of Passion and Profession

Much like superheroes, psychologists often have origin stories—impactful events that have shaped their professional identity and defined their mission. This was a major theme of the June 1st monitorLIVE event in Los Angeles, during which clinical psychologist and superhero enthusiast Andrea Letamendi, PhD, shared her origin story that began as a graduate student.

As Dr. Letamendi explained, her origin story was marked by an experience of, “psychic disequilibrium," which occurs when individuals do not see their own identities reflected in their environment. As a graduate student, Dr. Letamendi rarely saw herself represented in her chosen field of psychology—she met few psychologists who shared her cultural background, history of immigration and discrimination, or passions and hobbies, including comics.  This struggle activated her personal supervillain, “Imposter Syndrome.” The villain resurfaced during stressful times such as during comps and dissertation research, making her feel like she did not belong in graduate school or in the field.

She was finally able to defeat the Imposter Syndrome villain with the antidote of being her true professional and personal self. She had been ignoring her love of comic books, which was a large part of her authentic identity. She did not know that the field of psychology offers a variety of career options and many ways to incorporate hobbies and interests into professional careers. She became a true superhero when she combined her passion for comics with her background in psychology to create her side hustle, an extra income stream that allows people to pursue an interest while keeping their full-time job.

Dr. Letamendi shared that side hustles can restore the professional identities of practitioners, helping them remember why they were initially drawn to the psychology field. Side hustles also help with daily burnout and compassion fatigue. She now connects her identity with her psychology background through her podcast, “The Arkham Sessions,” where she analyzes every episode of “Batman: the Animated Series” through the lens of a clinical psychologist. She examines characters and analyzes their behaviors and personalities. Dr. Letamendi’s childhood dream came full circle when DC Comics made her Batgirl’s psychologist in one of its published stories.

The point to a side hustle is not only to make money, but also to fulfill one’s creative passion. This is why Dr. Letamendi’s podcasts are free, in the spirit of “Giving Psychology Away.”

Dr. Letamendi’s mission, shaped by her origin story, is to increase public knowledge of mental health and to encourage help-seeking among people who would not otherwise seek treatment. Although she accomplishes this mission through her daily work, her side hustle gives her the opportunity to live and work authentically.

monitorLIVE events connect psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline. Keep an eye out for future monitorLIVE events coming to a city near you.

Review photos from monitorLIVE: Los Angeles. This networking event from APA brings together psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline. The featured speaker in Los Angeles was clinical psychologist and superhero enthusiast, Andrea Letamendi, PhD. Dr. Letamendi offered her perspective on fusing a psychology background with a passion to open career opportunities one may never have considered.

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01 Jun 2017

Boosting productivity and pride

Boosting productivity and pride

When employers hire and nurture employees with disabilities, everyone benefits, research finds

At its best, work is a source of productivity, self-esteem and healthy socializing, not to mention income. But working-age people with disabilities are less than half as likely to partake of that essential experience as their peers without disabilities—about 34 percent compared with 74 percent, according to U.S. Census and other federal employment statistics.

They also receive less pay and fewer training and promotional opportunities than those without such impairments, and they're far more likely to lose their jobs once they've secured them. A study out this year in the International Journal of Human Resource Management, for instance, found that in the period of 2007 to 2013, men and women in the United States with disabilities were, respectively, 75 percent and 89 percent more likely to be laid off or fired than employees without disabilities, according to researchers Sophie Mitra, PhD, of Fordham University and Douglas Kruse, PhD, of Rutgers University.

A big reason for these disparities is employer perceptions of people with disabilities, says workplace disability researcher Susanne Bruyère, PhD, who directs the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at Cornell University. 

"There is still a lot of stigma and stereotyping suggesting that people with disabilities can't perform at an equal level at jobs of all types, even though the impairment they have may have nothing to do with their qualifications for the job or their ability to execute on required tasks," she says.

While there are varying definitions of disability, the Americans with Disabilities Act describes disability as "any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." About one in five Americans has one or more such cognitive, motor, sensory or mental health impairments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the chances of developing a disability increase significantly as we get older.

Researchers studying workplace disability issues make a point of looking at disabilities both in general and specific ways, because both perspectives yield valuable information. Data comparing individual disabilities, for instance, reveal that people with cognitive impairments earn far less for equivalent jobs than employees with hearing impairments, says Kruse. Conversely, a 2015 field study Kruse conducted with colleagues found that when employers read ersatz cover letters from people with one of two types of disabilities—spinal-cord injuries or Asperger's syndrome—they were 26 percent less likely to express interest in interviewing candidates with either disability than those with no reported disabilities. The findings strongly suggest "that employers are biased against disability per se, not just against the type of disability," Kruse says.

Fortunately, some companies—including large employers such as Marriott, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft, as well as federal entities such as the Department of Veterans Affairs—are bucking this trend. Other examples include the drug store chain Walgreens, whose disability-friendly employment climate has won it numerous accolades, and IBM, which hires people with disabilities specifically to test and develop technology software that can serve people with disabilities and users in general.

"People with disabilities can bring unique perspectives to the workplace and creative ways of solving problems that can be extremely valuable to a company," Kruse says.

To learn more about what's working in these settings, psychologists and other researchers are taking a closer look at cases, applying what they find.

Best practices

One way that researchers and disabilities advocates are examining what can help increase workplace inclusion of workers with disabilities is by compiling best practices from observation and research at exemplary job sites. Bruyère and her Cornell team, for instance, have created a list of 90 best practices across several aspects of the employment process, including recruitment and hiring, retention and career advancement (see http://benchmarkability.com). Good practices include having a central fund to pay for accommodations rather than leaving it to individual departments to field, and ensuring that interview locations, recruitment events, and recruiting and interviewing materials are accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, the team has developed an online self-assessment tool that helps companies develop workplace-­inclusion initiatives, as well as a series of online training packages that support such practices (see bottom of page for resources).

Now researchers are looking in more detail at which of these practices may lead to robust inclusion rates. In a survey of 675 human resource professionals reported in a 2014 article in Rehabilitation Research, Policy and Education, William A. Erickson of Cornell, along with Bruyère and colleagues, found that companies with internship programs for people with disabilities were six times more likely to hire a person with a disability in the previous year than those without such programs. The researchers also found that companies were much more likely to hire workers with disabilities when their senior managers were committed to the idea, when the companies actively recruited people with disabilities, and when the performance criteria for middle managers included disability and inclusion goals.

Researchers are also studying the idea of "supported employment," a strategy that deploys service providers who spend time at the workplace assisting employees with developmental and psychiatric disabilities and working with employers to ensure that these employees can do the work, have the accommodations they need and are able to navigate the social environment, which may also involve training nondisabled employees. Though costly, the approach is highly effective. A 2011 meta-analysis in the Journal of Dual Diagnoses by Kim T. Mueser, PhD, of Dartmouth College, and colleagues, for instance, found that 60 percent of workers with disabilities who participated in such programs were employed 18 months later, compared with 24 percent who participated in traditional vocational rehab programs.

Now, Department of Veterans Affairs clinical psychologist Lisa Ottomanelli, PhD, of the VA's Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, is applying the same principles to veterans with spinal cord injuries—the first time the supported-employment model has been applied to people with physical disabilities. In a randomized controlled trial of 201 veterans reported in a 2012 article in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and a 2014 two-year follow-up in the same journal, she and colleagues found that those who received the supportive services—which are embedded within the integrated health services at the VA—were about three times more likely to be employed at two years than those who received employment-related services outside the VA. What's more, the program ensured that veterans weren't just employed at any low-paying job that came along, but in positions that melded their interests with those of community employers. One veteran got a job as a graphic designer for a video gaming company, another as a Skype-based English-language instructor for Japanese students, and a third as a customer service agent at a major football stadium, to name some examples.

Researchers are also examining how workplace climate may affect the attitudes, experiences and productivity of people with disabilities. Not surprisingly, they're finding that people with disabilities fare much better in flexible, individualized environments than in settings that treat accommodations solely as legal mandates. Such accommodations don't mean that a company can't succeed financially: At two Walgreens distribution centers where 38 percent of employees have disabilities, the company's cultivated atmosphere of individual attention, respect and teamwork has led to high rates of productivity and innovation, finds a case study of 31 of the company's managers by Anderson University researcher Jeffrey R. Moore, PhD, and colleagues.

Nondisabled employees appreciate these kinds of job climates as well. In a 2014 article in Human Resource Management, for instance, Rutgers University disability employment researcher Lisa Schur, PhD, and ­colleagues­ found that unlike those in more rigid employment settings, nondisabled employees in supportive companies were generally pleased when peers with disabilities received accommodations. The researchers also found that people with and without disabilities requested similar types of accommodations to meet personal scheduling needs—for doctor's appointments or family emergencies, for example—and that the costs and benefits of these accommodations were similar for both groups.  

Such findings suggest that inclusive disability practices have something for all employees, Schur says. "Things like working from home, flexible schedules to take care of children or older parents—those are things that can benefit all workers, not just those with disabilities."

Resources for employers

By Tori DeAngelis


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24 May 2017

New APA Data Show Where Practitioners Work

New APA Data Show Where Practitioners Work

Most are in private practice and work with the white, heterosexual and adult population, finds the APA Center for Workforce Studies

Almost three-quarters of respondents to APA's 2015 Survey of Psychology Health Service Providers reported that they collaborated in clinical care with other professionals, most commonly psychiatrists, social workers, physicians and surgeons.

According to the new report from APA's Center for Workforce Studies, the most common form of collaboration was sharing a waiting room with other health professionals, reported by half of respondents. Thirty-nine percent of respondents shared electronic medical records with other professionals. And while only 19 percent saw patients alongside other professionals, 36 percent participated in multidisciplinary team meetings and 33 percent reported integrated treatment plans.

"There's a path toward integration, and a lot of psychologists are taking the first steps down that road," says W. Douglas Tynan, PhD, director of integrated health care at APA.

The increase in team-based care is just one of the findings from the survey, which offers a snapshot of who licensed psychologists in the United States are, how they work and their experience with older clients, cultural competence and team-based care, says report co-author Karen Stamm, PhD, a senior research officer in the center. More than 5,000 licensed psychologists across the country—75 percent of them APA members—responded to the survey. Other major findings include:

Most licensed psychologists are private practitioners. Consistent with past findings, most licensed psychologists are working in private practice: 45 percent of respondents cited private practices as their primary work setting (see chart). Clinical psychology was by far the primary specialty most often cited.

Respondents spent a mean of 36 hours weekly working at their primary positions, with half of that time devoted to providing direct care to clients. Respondents spent seven hours on administrative tasks each week, four hours on teaching and research, two hours on clinical supervision and an hour on other services.

Licensed psychologists are mostly treating white, heterosexual, adult populations. About 96 percent of respondents reported that they provide services frequently or very frequently to white clients. Just 38 percent served African-American clients frequently or very frequently and 34 percent Hispanic clients. The vast majority of respondents—83 percent—reported seeing adult clients ages 19 to 64 frequently or very frequently. In contrast, just 23 percent served children and 34 percent served adolescents frequently or very frequently.

Respondents' own demographic characteristics tended to mirror those of their clients, although the median age of survey respondents was almost 58. Almost 88 percent of respond

ents identified as white, for example, and 90 percent identified as heterosexual.

Few practitioners are serving patients age 80 and older. While 37 percent of survey respondents reported serving older adults frequently or very frequently, just 9 percent served the "oldest old"—those 80 and older.

Respondents spent an average of almost nine hours a week providing services to older adults. They spent more time providing psychotherapy than conducting assessments or offering consultations. They also spent much less time—fewer than two hours weekly—providing services to clients' family members.

About two-thirds of those working with older adults are Medicare providers. Thirteen percent reported that they were previously Medicare providers but no longer participated in the program. Almost 18 percent had never participated. Low reimbursement rates were the most commonly cited reason for not participating. Others said they didn't participate in any insurance programs or had caseloads composed mainly of non-Medicare patients.

Respondents were eager to learn more about geropsychology, calling for education on depression, adjustment to medical illness and disability, and grief and bereavement.

Practitioners believe they are prepared to serve an increasingly diverse nation. Almost 53 percent of respondents felt that their doctoral programs had prepared them well or extremely well to work with culturally diverse groups. Another 44 percent felt they were fairly well prepared or slightly prepared to do so. Just 3 percent felt they weren't at all ready.

Respondents' level of knowledge varied, however. More than half said they were not at all or only slightly knowledgeable about working with transgender clients, for example, compared with the 51 percent who rated themselves quite or extremely knowledgeable about working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients.

The most helpful resources for learning about diverse populations were books and peer-reviewed journals, respondents said. The least helpful? Graduate training. That's not a slam against graduate training, Stamm explains. Instead, she says, the finding may simply reflect the demographics of respondents.

"The majority of the sample was in their mid-50s, so they're fairly far removed from their graduate training," she says. "They may have changed their practice patterns or emphases over time, so their graduate training is less relevant."

The survey findings point to the need for further research, adds Stamm. One priority area is to determine whether there are enough psychologists to meet Americans' needs. "This report has a lot of information about the supply side," says Stamm. "Now we'd like to focus on the demand."

To read the full report, visit www.apa.org/workforce/publications/15-health-service-providers/index.aspx.

Little diversity

  • 87.8%
    White/Caucasian
  • 4.4%
    Hispanic
  • 2.6%
    Black/African American
  • 2.5%
    Asian
  • 1.7%
    Multiracial/Multiethnic
  • 0.3%
    American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 0.1%
    Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

By Rebecca A. Clay


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12 May 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with User Experience Researcher Dr. Laura Faulkner

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology education and training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs that you may never have considered. As a user experience researcher, Dr. Laura Faulkner, PhD, utilizes her psychology expertise to help companies better understand how people perceive and respond to products or services. In this webinar, Dr. Faulkner discusses her "21-year love affair" in the user experience field. Learn how you can apply your psychology background to a similar career path.

Laura FaulknerSpeaker:

Dr. Laura Faulkner is the head of user experience research at Rackspace, a managed cloud computing company that helps businesses tap the power of cloud computing without the complexity and cost of managing it on their own. She has worked in user experience (UX) for over twenty years at companies and institutions: Pearson, FalconDay Consulting and the University of Texas-Austin. In all her roles, Dr. Faulkner’s focus is on “human beings: users as humans, development teams as humans, leadership as humans, all of whom need information and designs that move them forward in what they are doing and wanting to do. My goal is to collaborate and lead from inception through successful use, to make a difference.”

Garth FowlerHost:

Dr. Garth A. Fowler is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

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11 May 2017

Can I work here?

Can I work here?

Industrial/organizational psychologists offer their advice for helping job seekers determine whether a potential employer offers a good fit

Workers who feel valued by their employers are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and be motivated to do their best. They're also less likely to want to leave the organization in the next year, according to APA's 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, which polled more than 1,500 U.S. workers.

The survey also found that work-life fit—or how well a job fits with the rest of an employee's life—plays an important role in employee retention, says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, who directs APA's Center for Organizational Excellence. "Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work and, as such, they want to have harmony between their job demands and the other parts of their lives," Ballard says. That means that to remain competitive, employers need to create environments where employees feel connected to the organization and have a work experience that's part of a rich, fulfilling life.

How can psychologists determine whether a potential employer will give them that positive experience and work-life fit? Some industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists point to the importance of matching an employee's values with that of the organization. Others say previous work experiences—such as the factors they did and didn't like about a job or supervisor—are key indicators of what to look for in a new role. Overall, though, determining whether an organization is a good match has to start with a thorough understanding of your career priorities, I/O psychologists say. "It is as much about what your needs and preferences are as it is about the organization," Ballard says.

Look inward. Before the job search, psychologists should pinpoint what their work interests are, says I/O psychologist Edgar Schein, PhD, a professor emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Start by conducting a self-analysis of your career to date to help you determine your strengths, your values and what motivates you—or, as Schein calls it, your "career anchor." His research on career anchors has shown that most people place different amounts of emphasis on the importance of eight categories or preferences. They are technical/functional competence; general managerial competence; autonomy/independence; security/stability; entrepreneurial creativity; service/dedication to a cause; pure challenge; and lifestyle.

So, for example, among clinical psychologists, some want to work for an organization because they are more security/stability oriented, while others want to set up private practices because they want to be on their own.

He points out, however, that often one's anchor can't truly be discovered before spending several years in the workforce. "This really is a deeper level of knowledge about oneself that isn't usually something people know when they graduate," he explains. "They need 10 years of experience to really figure themselves out."

Network with experts. Early on in your career, Schein recommends reaching out to psychologists who are in jobs you can imagine moving into. "Find someone ahead of you in your career and get a sense of what work is like for them at that job," he says.

Determine personal priorities. Job seekers also have to think about their personal priorities and interests before they start their job searches, says Helena Cooper-Thomas, PhD, a professor of organizational behaviour at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Her point is backed by new research: In a meta-analysis of 92 studies with nearly 35,000 participants, employees whose interest profiles matched their job profiles were more likely to perform better, help others in the organization and stay with the company longer. The study, led by Michigan State University I/O psychologist Christopher Nye, PhD, shows that it's not a person's overall interest in a particular kind of work, but how their interests across various types of work match with the skills and tasks involved in a particular job. The researchers surmise that this match—known as person-environment fit—is a much better predictor of job performance than the more general interest or personality measures often used by college career centers (Journal of Vocational Psychology, 2017).

One way job seekers can determine whether their interests match with those of other company employees is to search for the employer on LinkedIn, Ballard says. There, you can often find employees' public-facing profiles, which can offer insight into the skill sets and longevity of people who work there.

Consider a "misfit" job. Candidates should also consider where they can tolerate or even benefit from "misfit," Cooper-Thomas adds. "If you're the type of person who likes to have fun at work by playing pranks or telling jokes, you probably wouldn't do well in a secure facility, while those with a competitive streak may conflict with the compassionate and calm values found in some health-care settings," she says.

But having knowledge or skills that are different from one's colleagues can result in more innovative ideas and helpful solutions, which can help employees get noticed and accelerate their careers, she points out.

Do more research. Once psychologists determine the factors that matter most to them in a job, they should read up on any organization they are interested in, paying particular attention to its mission or values statement, says Ballard. "Something that's often telling about an organization's attention to employee well-being is whether or not it has something about creating a positive or healthy work environment and supporting staff built into its mission statement or values," he says. He also recommends doing an Internet search using both Google and Glassdoor to see how the organization is portrayed and whether, for example, they've been embroiled in any controversy. "Look not just at the things the organization itself posts, but also the kinds of comments, statements and reactions they get from other people," he says.

Get specific in your interview. Of course, it's always helpful to ask about an organization's culture during the interview process—the drawback is that there is no guarantee that the recruiter's espoused values are the values in use, warns Cooper-Thomas. What can be more helpful, she suggests, is asking your interviewers to be more specific by sharing an incident at work that reveals the organization's values in action. Interviewers could discuss a time they were particularly proud of their employer, for example.

Cooper-Thomas also notes that every organization has different layers of culture, so job seekers should try to ascertain whether they would fit with the people they would work with on a daily basis, such as supervisors and colleagues. She suggests paying particular attention to how employers treat people: Is the receptionist friendly and helpful? Did the interviewers show respect by arriving on time? Did they answer the job seeker's questions honestly?

Gauge your potential support system. Also ask interviewers about the amount of autonomy employees have within the organization, the organization's structure and the kinds of support available, Ballard says. For example, if you're looking for a job where you're providing clinical services, you'll want to know whether there is administrative, billing and collection support.

In addition, pay attention to how formal or informal the work environment appears to be, as well as how diverse and inclusive it is, Ballard says.

And if it's important to you, talk to the recruiter and your potential supervisors about flexibility and work-life fit to find out if you'd have the ability to modify when, where, and how much you work to accommodate your needs.

Think about the "fun factor." Early career psychologists have spent many years studying and planning their career paths, and are usually quite passionate about further developing them, says University of Chicago Booth School of Business professor Ayelet Fishbach, PhD. But when it comes to sticking with a job, people thrive most when they're doing interesting work with people they like, according to research by Fishbach and behavioral science doctoral candidate Kaitlin Woolley (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2015). So, in addition to looking for benefits such as career development opportunities, it's important to consider whether you can expect to enjoy, be challenged, fulfilled and experience social connections in a work setting, the authors say. "A workplace that offers immediate benefits in terms of engagement and enjoyment is a place where people stay," Fishbach says.

Find out what a typical day would really look like. Finally, Schein encourages job seekers to get personal with the people they're interviewing. That means spending time to get to know the one or two people you have met in the organization by asking them why they got into the field and how they like their jobs. This tactic works best toward the end of the interview process, he says, or even as a follow-up call once a job is offered.

"What you really need to find out is not about all the benefits and bonuses that might be available to you, but what you'd really be doing day by day and would the people around you be supportive of that," Schein says. 

Trust your gut

Before you take a job, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will I be pursuing my true interests in this position?
  2. Will I have the work-life balance I want?
  3. Do my co-workers seem to mirror my values?
  4. Will I feel valued by this employer and in this position?

By Amy Novotney


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28 Apr 2017

How to Earn That ‘Welcome Aboard’

How to Earn That ‘Welcome Aboard’

Excellent interview skills are critical to landing the job you want. Here's how to prepare and follow up.

Some job-seekers think that they don't need much preparation before a job interview because they are outgoing or comfortable talking about themselves. But interviewing "is a skill and doesn't happen automatically," says Julie McCarthy, PhD, professor of management at the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada. Confidence and strong interpersonal skills will only take you so far in the eyes of a future boss. As psychologists who are experts in the area will tell you, thorough preparation is key because it helps potential employers get a deeper understanding of your competencies, weaknesses and career goals.

"The point of good preparation is not to get a job, but the right job," says Paul Fairlie, PhD, president and CEO of a human resources and organizational consulting firm based in Toronto. That preparation includes thinking about your work history and the competencies you've gained. "It's a lot of work, but once you do this, you'll have a better sense of who you are and the type of job that will engage you," Fairlie says.

Here's some advice from psychologist experts on what to do before, during and after a job interview to boost your chances of getting the right offer.

Before the interview

Research the organization. Search for news articles about the company and read its annual reports, says Paul Yost, PhD, associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Seattle Pacific University in Washington. Invite someone who works at the organization to coffee to learn about the company's values and culture. This type of research prepared his psychology students for interviews at Amazon.com. They learned that the concept of "fail fast" is a key aspect of the company's culture—in other words, be proactive with a bias toward action, but constantly seek feedback so you can adapt and change as you go, Yost says.

"With this in mind, they knew to give examples of when they'd been highly proactive and adapted when problems arose," he says.

For academic jobs, study up on the school's financial situation and accomplishments by searching the web and talking to faculty members, says Robert Ployhart, PhD, professor and department chair of management in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

"Ask professors and administrators about the priorities of the department," he says.

Learn about the interviewers. Look up each person on LinkedIn, as well as on work or personal websites, then use this information to connect with them during the interview, says Laxmikant Manroop, PhD, assistant professor of human resource management at Eastern Michigan University. "I always tell my students that the similarity attraction paradigm applies in the job-seeking process," Manroop says. "Interviewers tend to view candidates more favorably when they share something in common."

Find out more about the job. Learn about the competencies and duties that will be required for the position. You can do this by looking at the job description and interviewing professionals in the field or at the organization who can explain what the responsibilities in the job description really mean, says Yost. Also, read about the specific tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities needed for positions like yours on O*NET, the free database that offers information about hundreds of job types.

Develop your narratives. Employers want to hear about problems you faced, the actions you took and the results—known as PAR in the HR world, says Yost. Write one-paragraph PAR narratives demonstrating a variety of competencies. Then rehearse these stories until they come naturally. During the interview, you can decide which narratives to share based on the questions being asked. Yost used this strategy when interviewing for a highly competitive job for a senior human resources specialist position at Microsoft. "I put together PAR stories showing, for example, how I had worked effectively with executives, developed selection systems and dealt with a project that had fallen apart," he says. Yost got the job.

Improve your resume. Add those narratives to your resume, too. "Once you've done the hard work of wording these examples in a resume, you will have an easier time remembering these stories in an interview. It will become your personal brand and message," Fairlie says.

Rehearse. Find someone to role-play the interview with and practice answering expected questions, Fairlie says. Invite the mock interviewer to identify distracting habits, or even better, film yourself and watch the footage, McCarthy says. "Nonverbal communication is critical," she says. "By watching yourself, you may notice that you are fidgeting or not maintaining consistent eye contact, and it is easier to fix a bad habit if you are aware of it."

During the interview

Keep answers concise. "It's much more powerful to give a short, targeted one-minute answer than to ramble," says Yost. "Interviewers can ask questions if they are interested in hearing more details. Research has shown that candidates who speak confidently, with fewer pauses and a little fast are rated more positively by interviewers, so it's better to err on the side of the hare rather than the turtle when it comes to speech tempo during an interview (Journal of Applied Psychology, 2009)

Ask questions. Interviewers often ask candidates if they have any questions—and it's critical that you do, Fairlie says. "Having good questions shows you have initiative, motivation and strategic thinking," he says. Ask about the reporting relationships and work flow of the organization, for example. Inquire about the management style of the person you will report to, and why the position is vacant. Not only will your questions help impress the interviewers, the answers will help you decide if the job is a good fit for you.

Focus on the organization. Talk about how you will add to the organization rather than what you will gain from the job, Yost says. Don't ask interviewers how and when you can expect a raise or promotion, Fairlie says. "It can come across as something that is entitled rather than earned," he says.

Nonverbal cues matter. Arrive a little early, dress appropriately, be polite to everybody, smile and make eye contact. Research also shows that a weak or firm handshake can make the difference between getting a second interview or not, Manroop says. A firm handshake shows resilience, strength and confidence, he says (Journal of Applied ­Psychology, 2008).

Be observant. Get a sense of the organization by noticing the environment and interactions between people during the interview, says Lisa Dragoni, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Business at Wake Forest University. When she interviewed for her current job, she was impressed by the large community space at the school's entrance. "I asked how often it was used," she says. "I learned that faculty, staff and students used the area frequently for meetings and informal gatherings. The school had designed the room and office spaces to foster collaboration. Knowing that was part of my decision."

Stay engaged. It's important to show consistent energy throughout the meetings, Dragoni says. "I've sat on a number of selection committees, and I've been surprised how often faculty will say that candidates didn't seem very interested. I wondered if this was because the applicants were tired at the end of the day."

After the interview

Send a thank-you note. Ask for each interviewer's business card, and send each of them a tailored letter, either handwritten or via email, says Yost. "Don't send a generic note," he says. "Mention something specific that you are excited about doing in the role and how you can contribute," he says. "Even if you don't get an offer, this will help employers remember you when the next job opens up."

Be ready to negotiate your salary. Gather information about the salary range for the job—websites like APA's Center for Workforce Studies are good places to start. "The first person to name a figure loses, as the old adage goes," Fairlie says. It's ideal to ask the employer to give a salary range to start the negotiation process, but if candidates are asked first, "the best way to respond is to ask for more information about the job, showing you understand the link between job responsibilities and compensation," he says. Once the employer makes an offer, feel free to ask for time to think about it.

Follow up. If you don't get an offer, call an interviewer after a few weeks to ask for feedback about why you didn't get the job, Dragoni says. "If you ask people for input, they are usually open to having a conversation," she says. "Ask what the basis for the decision was, what you could have done differently or better, and then thank them for their suggestions."

Stay connected. Invite the interviewers to connect with you on LinkedIn because these contacts may become important for networking in the future.

By Heather Stringer


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