Spotlight on O*NET Users: Laquisha Clyburn

Laquisha Clyburn

Career Consultant with DBM, Troy, MI.

Leading global outplacement, coaching and career management firm DBM is fortunate to have career consultant Laquisha Clyburn on board, consulting in the Greater Detroit area. Laquisha uses O*NET creatively in many ways, helping both her clients and herself.

Laquisha first heard of O*NET through networking with colleagues who were using it at Michigan Works in 2008, although it took some convincing before she used it herself. Laquisha remembers, “I was hesitant to use O*NET because I equated it with the old Occupational Handbook and I knew using that wasn’t fun.”

She finally became intrigued enough to try using it herself. “I was amazed; I saw that anyone could use it in an instant to learn anything and everything about an occupation. O*NET was user friendly. The language was easy to understand and apply. I was so excited. I went on a personal exploration, which was exciting and fun. I saw right away that this would be eye-opening and helpful to my clients.”

Laquisha notes that career counselors and others in workforce development are naturally self-examining explorers. Through her own personal exploration, she discovered immediately that tracing interests and work values through O*NET Online leads directly to finding occupations that fit with those interests and values. “Here we go!” she thought. “Exploring in O*NET, any client can do this same sort of self-assessment and discover occupations that use their skills and knowledge AND fulfill their work values!”

O*NET permeates much of the work Laquisha does leading workshops. “Eventually I have participants use O*NET in writing their resumes and cover letters, and in preparing for interviews,” she continues. “But at the very beginning, first thing, I start small. I ask people to write down what they do on their job. So many people cannot articulate succinctly exactly what they do. They cannot describe in plain words the oh-so-many contributions they make. Often they don’t give themselves credit for even a fraction of how much they know how to DO.

“After they struggle with this a while, I introduce them to O*NET. I guarantee them that when they open up this vast database of work information they are going to be amazed. When they check out the tasks of their job title occupation in O*NET and move on to related occupations, just for starters, suddenly they SEE. They recognize how much they do! Plus, they discover the language to explain their skills and experience.” You can sense Laquisha channeling her clients’ excitement in discovering this new vehicle.

People realize the benefits of using O*NET right before Laquisha’s eyes. She enjoys relating the story of a woman who approached her after a workshop one day, timidly asking for a bit of help with her resume. “She wouldn’t even sit down. She so lacked self-esteem. I had to ask her to quit apologizing for ‘using my time!’ ” Laquisha exclaims. “No surprise, her resume was very sparse. I knew from talking with her that she did and knew so much more at work than she had on that paper. She finally admitted that she was often the “go-to” person at work. Everyone at work asked her to do most everything, because she COULD and she did it well.”

Laquisha gave the woman an assignment: “I told her people trusted her because she always did a good job at the umpteen tasks they asked of her. And she needed to take credit for all that she did. I instructed her to go onto O*NET, look up every position she had ever held, and write down the tasks of every job she ever had done.”

You can imagine the rest of the story. The client returned with three pages of tasks she knew how to do and had done well. “The difference was like night and day! Suddenly she SAW how valuable her contribution had been. In an instant she had everything she needed, in black and white. She had the perfect language to write a great resume and cover letters and to prepare for outstanding interviews. Most important, she positively shone with new-found self-esteem,” recalls Laquisha.

Being creative, Laquisha leverages O*NET for herself, as well. When she is going to work with a group in a field that she is not very familiar with, she prepares by checking out the occupations of the clients’ job titles ahead of time. “I learn the tasks they do. I familiarize myself with the skills, interests and work values people in those occupations usually share. I go into the session knowing their abilities and knowledge sets. I can name the tools and technologies they use.” Imagine the credibility that gives Laquisha with the people she is helping.

Joyfully keeping up with two-year-old son, Jason, requires creativity, too. How does Laquisha nurture her creativity? She quotes Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: a Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self, as an affirming source. Laquisha recommends the readings and exercises and using the famous program’s two basic tools, The Morning Pages and The Artist Date. “Each and every one of us is creative–whether it’s in our careers or in what we decide to make for dinner. This book helps people celebrate their creativity; realize their desires and dreams; and make plans to accomplish them.” Check it out at