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The Fastest Growing Job of 2014 May Surprise You

February 27, 2014

Recently the Bureau of Labor Statistics published their top 20 fastest growing jobs and at the top of that list was Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. Huh? What’s that?                     

I am an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist or I-O Psychologist in our industry lingo. Not many people know what it is or what we do. When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I am a Human Resource Consultant, because ultimately I am and it makes more sense to people. Otherwise, I have to spend about five minutes explaining I-O Psychology. I do, however, want to educate you on what we do. But first, let’s review a typical conversation between an I-O Psychologist and a new acquaintance:

Acquaintance: Hi, nice to meet you. What do you do?

I-O: I’m an Industrial/Organizational psychologist.

Acquaintance: (blank stare) You’re a psychologist? Are you analyzing me right now?

I-O: (in our heads – Yes, yes I am. You seem very insecure…. smile) I use psychology in organizations. We use psychological principles and apply them to businesses to make them more effective.

Acquaintance: So, you counsel people in organizations? You need to come to my company!

I-O: Not quite. I-O Psychologists don’t counsel individuals. We study human behavior in the workplace. For example, my company consults around how to find and hire the best people for the job.

Acquaintance: So, you’re like a recruiter or headhunter?

I-O: Not really. We design and implement the assessment tools that HR professionals use to screen their candidates and make hiring decisions.

Acquaintance: You make those awful employment tests? I know a lot of people who have been rejected for jobs because of those tests. They didn’t even have a chance to interview. It’s a bunch of hooey.

I-O: (smile and sigh) It was nice to meet you. Have a nice day.

(I would be remiss if I didn’t point out to you that assessments work and are much more predictive than interviews)

I’d like to point out that I-O Psychologists do many things within organizations. This scenario is specific to my organization, which is a consulting firm that specializes in personnel selection and the development of assessment solutions. I-O Psychologists can work internal to an organization and study many topics related to human behavior such as, training, succession planning and engagement. You’ll find I-O Psychologists involved with Human Resources leaders in many data-driven organizations.

One point I’d like you to take away from this blog, is that I-O Psychologists are scientists. We apply scientific methods when studying and predicting human behavior in the workplace. We tend to focus on important organizational outcomes like, job performance, safety, accidents, absenteeism, counterproductive work behaviors and turnover. We are able to identify the factors that maximize positive outcomes and minimize the negative. We design, develop and evaluate solutions that can help organizations function with happy, engaged employees and high productivity and revenue. Our scientific approach works. It’s no wonder this is one of the fastest growing occupations because businesses are seeing results from following the advice we can give. I’m a little biased, but it’s a pretty fun job.

So, the next time you talk to someone and they say they are a Human Resource Consultant, ask them if they are an I-O Psychologist. If they are, you will make their day and bring a smile to their face.

We took this idea to the streets and wanted to see if the average person could define what an I/O Psychologist does.  Find out what they had to say by watching the video below. 

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Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. is the Director of Global Innovation at PSI and an expert in the design, development, and validation of psychological assessment tools. She runs an innovation lab that is responsible for establishing PSI’s assessment technology roadmap and strategy. An integral member of PSI since 2000, Amie has led the development of numerous global assessments, including personality, situational judgment, cognitive, and interactive work simulations.