[This article was originally published in French by Fabien Beltrame. Translation : EPALE France]
Support in identifying RIASEC profiles: proposal for implementation in the framework of a remote counselling service
The Coronavirus pandemic, and the lockdown from March 17 to May 11, 2020, forced career guidance professionals to adapt the services they offer. As physical distancing is now the rule, support services have shifted from the traditional face-to-face office-based interview to one which is still face-to-face, but takes place on screens. Zoom, Jitsi, Skype and other platforms have replaced the typical office desk.
Not everyone was necessarily well prepared for this, and with the sudden onset of the situation, adaptation sometimes resulted in a “downgrade”. The EPCR method, for example, was designed with the objective of offering face-to-face support. Indeed, this method is the richest in terms of interactions at all levels: cognitive, conative, verbal, non-verbal, visual, etc. maximizing the mechanisms of reflexivity. Thus, faced with the constraint of having to provide remote support, this approach could only partially be transposed to videoconferencing.
Indeed, the "RIASEC card sorting" stage requires the physical handling of 6 small cards according to precise instructions by the professional. Above all, the cards must be presented to the beneficiary face-down, and turned over only at the very end of the session. These conditions have led professionals, at best, to provide their service without the "card sorting" sequence, and at worst to abandon the collaborative approach in identifying the beneficiary’s RIASEC profile and resort to a traditional interview.
We have recently entered the "post-lockdown” phase, which has turned out to be far from a return to normal. Although we have regained some freedom of movement, we are required to apply very restrictive protective measures. Career guidance professionals, for example, have to greet beneficiaries without physical contact, stand at a minimum distance of 1.5 metre, wear a mask, conduct interviews from behind a plexiglass screen, disinfect furniture between each interview, etc.
As this situation is likely to continue, the extent to which our procedures need to be revisited is clear. With such constraints, face-to-face services have been replaced by remote services, which are more comfortable and reassuring for professionals and beneficiaries.
We therefore need to permanently incorporate "remote" services in our practices rather than using default practices, as we look to improving the quality of service. We need to take a step up and set ourselves the target of working well remotely, at least as well as face-to-face, or even better, by relying on all the digital tools available for collaborative work.
This is the objective in developing the "remote" application of the EPCR approach. This article presents the new method for conducting the Collaborative Results Sharing Interview (EPCRdist) aimed at debriefing the results of a RIASEC questionnaire. The new materials and software created for this remote support are also presented.
Conducting a collaborative results sharing interview remotely (EPCRdist)
This article presents the "remote" aspect of the EPCR method. It focuses mainly on the methodological and technical aspects specific to this method. For the methodological details of each stage for professionals, please refer to the document presenting the “traditional” method. All links to documents, materials and software are listed at the bottom of this article.
Anticipation and preparation required
To begin, organisation and a shared schedule must be agreed upon with the beneficiary. Indeed, there are several stages in the remote EPCR process that need to be arranged for both the professional and the beneficiary:
- agree on the decision to use the EPCR method remotely and arrange the schedule (see working alliance)
- send the invitation to the "technical test"
- send the invitation email to EPCRdist, with instructions
- the beneficiary completes the RIASEC Flash 2 questionnaire and sends back the resulting reference
- the professional prepares the EPCRdist session ahead of the appointment time
- on the agreed day and time, the professional and the beneficiary connect
- the professional and the beneficiary carry out the steps of the EPCR method remotely
- the professional ends the EPCRdist by giving the beneficiary the recommendations for the next step: looking for activities that correspond to their profile using the search engine
- the professional sends the summary of the remote EPCR process to the beneficiary
The Skype meeting must be planned in advance. Working from home during the lockdown has taught us, often at our expense, that technology can be capricious. It is therefore necessary to plan ahead.
In the first step, well before the Skype meeting, the professional will ask the beneficiary to test their connection. To do this, they send an invitation entitled "Skype technical test" through the "Schedule a call" feature. The simple objective of this call is to ensure that each party’s equipment can connect with the other’s, including sound, image and screen sharing. The professional ensures that screen sharing works by testing the feature and asking the beneficiary to confirm. If everything is working properly, the time spent on this test should not exceed 10 minutes.
After this test, the invitation for the EPCRdist interview should be sent. Depending on the videoconferencing software used, the professional may or may not indicate the instructions in the same message as the invitation. The instructions to be given to the beneficiary are as follows:
As we agreed together, before our videoconference interview, please complete the following steps:
1. answer the online questionnaire by clicking on this link:
2. make a note of the reference displayed at the end of the questionnaire (select and copy)
3. send me a message by replying to this email. In your email, please indicate the reference by pasting the number displayed after responding to the questionnaire
Option: if you feel your beneficiary is comfortable enough with writing, you can ask them to note their initial feelings in the same message. Step 2 looks at the "first impressions" of the EPCRdist method. This step is more effective if carried out immediately after the questionnaire. But if your beneficiary is not comfortable with writing, it is best to do this during the videoconference.
4. in this email, write your impressions after answering the questions: What did you think of this questionnaire? Are there any activities that stood out for you in this questionnaire? If so, which ones, and why? Did you think of other activities that you like or dislike while answering this questionnaire? Etc.
Your Career Development Advisor
Make sure that the beneficiary has sent you the email with the reference number resulting from the questionnaire before the interview date. If not, send them a reminder email. If you are working with more than one beneficiary, which is probably the case, you can make Outlook alerts to help you to remember.
Finally, the last phase of anticipation is a little before the Skype meeting, on the day. Sufficiently before the appointment time to be able to deal with possible malfunctions, it is advisable to:
- check the internet connection
- check that Skype is running
- open the document “2020mmjj_EPCRd_Nom-Prénom_DocSynthese_V1.0.pdf”. You can also resize it on the screen as shown in screenshot N°4
- launch the "RIASECCardSorting.exe" program and maximize it on your screen
- launch the web browser and make it the same size as the above PDF document
In the PDF document, fill in the date, the full name of the beneficiary and the reference from the questionnaire. This reference is entered in the box at the top of the first page and will be automatically transferred to the second page. It is important to indicate this reference in this document because:
- it will allow you to easily open the beneficiary's results by clicking on the button on page 3
- it will also allow the beneficiary to review their profile at any time by clicking on this button.
Step: First impressions
If the beneficiary has sent these by email, the professional will debrief from the email.
If this is not the case, the professional invites the beneficiary to recall the questionnaire and to share their feelings during or at the end of the questionnaire. Here, the method is the same as for the face-to-face EPCR approach, with the same questions.
Step: the highlights page
The professional shares the PDF document with the beneficiary and displays page 2. The situation is then very similar to the face-to-face situation but with the page displayed on the screens of the beneficiary and the professional. The professional can conduct their meeting as they would in a face-to-face situation and make notes in the PDF form as they would on a sheet of paper on their desk.
For the methodology of this step, please see the documentation for the traditional EPCR approach.
Step: RIASEC card sorting
The professional changes the screen layout, replacing the PDF document by the RIASECCardSorting.exe program. It is important to maximize the display of the software and to ensure that the beneficiary can read the contents of the cards easily.
Step: end of the remote EPCR session
The professional fills in the table on page 3 of the PDF document: the order of the RIASEC codes with the cards, with the result of the RIASEC Flash2 questionnaire and the final choice. While it is important to fill out the entire table for the beneficiary to keep track of their work, technically only the major and minor RIASEC in the "final choice" line are required. These two boxes will be automatically transferred to the table below: "My RIASEC".
The professional then explains to the beneficiary the procedure for exploring professional avenues that correspond to their profile of interest, in particular through the use of the "RIASEC Investigation" search engine.
The professional can now close the EPCRdist session by explaining to the beneficiary that they will receive an email with an attachment containing the PDF document on which they have just traced all their steps during this session. The document is the property of the beneficiary. They can add to it as they wish. This document includes all the links to open their questionnaire results, find all their answers to the questionnaire, and use the search engine for professional activities and trades that correspond to their RIASEC profile.
Links to documents and materials:
- The Zip folder of the "RIASECCardSorting.exe" program: link
- A presentation of the traditional EPCR method link
- Download the PDF of the traditional EPCR method link
- EPALE article on the “traditional” EPCR method link