Spotlight on O*NET Users: Dr. Paul Schumann

Paul Schumann

Professor, Department of Management, College of Business, Minnesota State University Mankato

Dr. Paul L. Schumann, Professor in the Department of Management, College of Business, at Minnesota State University Mankato, weaves the value of using O*NET throughout his human resource management courses. He has been using O*NET Online to teach business for nearly eight years. Initially Dr. Schumann assigned students activities to learn how to navigate O*NET Online. Today O*NET is at the heart of most topics he addresses in management courses.

“O*NET helps guide the human resources (HR) manager through nearly all work responsibilities,” Paul asserts. “It is a primary resource we use in my classes. At its foundation, O*NET facilitates learning job descriptions, and job descriptions are the touchstone of human resources management. My students learn to use O*NET in a recruiting campaign; during selection and hiring; when evaluating resumes. O*NET serves up the questions to ask in a job interview by tying the interview questions to the essential duties of the job. It is the guide to creating performance appraisal tools.”

Early in a course Paul explains that knowledge, skills and abilities are the mainstay of HR professionals everywhere. “We talk about how KSAs permeate much of HR. Then I introduce O*NET Online by conducting that first occupation search, which might be for a restaurant manager, bank teller, bartender, or HR specialist—I have used any number of occupations—something realistic for my students. Everyone follows along and then conducts additional searches in class. The activity engages students, and they discover the power of O*NET together. Subsequently they have O*NET-based work to do on their own, and in teams.”

For over ten years all Minnesota State Mankato business students have had a wireless network and used laptops in class, enabling them to work with O*NET Online as a matter of course. Paul describes, “Starting with the simplest things, like stating the essential qualifications of a job, we naturally go to O*NET Online during class. I point out right up front, on our initial exposure, ‘Oh, look! Notice how any occupation search result appears in the format of KSAs!”

“In more recent years I have been striving for students really understanding the solid connection between O*NET information and every facet of human resources,” he explains. Students’ true understanding is evident in the capstone assignment of Management 440, where each team of students uses O*NET to design a job description, a recruiting and selection plan, a compensation plan, a performance appraisal tool, a training plan and more for a job in a chosen occupation. When covering career planning, a sub-topic in Management 440, Paul points out the Related Occupations path in O*NET. The career planning topic in any HR management course also presents an opportunity for professors to bring up O*NET Career Exploration Tools, specifically the Interest Profiler and the Work Importance Locator. The computerized versions probably are especially attractive to today’s college student.

Paul encountered O*NET’s predecessor, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, in courses he took earning his M.S. and Ph.D. in labor economics, econometrics, and industrial organization at Cornell University. When he received a notice about the launch of O*NET Online, about the turn of the century, he explored the new Internet treasure and knew immediately that it was going to become very important in his teaching. And because the College of Business at Minnesota State University Mankato was an early adopter of WiFi and a laptop in every student’s hand, he was among the first to be able to make the most of O*NET in the university classroom.

Paul’s advice to other management professors about using O*NET in curriculum is based upon having integrated O*NET into his courses for many years and deeply. “My primary recommendation is to really become very familiar with O*NET and to think creatively. O*NET Online is such a rich resource. It has so much information that it takes a little bit of exploring to truly understand how helpful it can be, if you think creatively. O*NET helps students think about their futures. It helps managers think about a job. O*NET builds the bridge between learning and work, between work essentials and worker essentials, making it a most useful college tool. As you become more familiar with O*NET and more facile using it, you become increasingly creative building curriculum from it.”

Leveraging O*NET in his teaching is not Paul’s sole passion. A couple of years ago, upon realizing that his music favorites were totally from his own old days, he “made a fresh effort to upgrade to today’s bands.” As of the first Sunday in October this year, he had heard and seen, LIVE, 133 bands, year-to-date! Yes, you read that right, and the accomplishment does require seeing multiple bands perform on many a day, at mega music festivals such as Lollapalooza, in Chicago’s Grant Park each August. Sometimes Dr. Schumann has sound, light and video shows welcoming students to class, au courante music only. Students probably are “virtually lined up” to get into Schumann’s classes.