United States Department of Labor
Office of Administrative Law Judges Law Library
Note: The DOT was created by the Employment and Training Administration, and was last updated in 1991. It has been replaced by the O*NET.
DICTIONARY OF OCCUPATIONAL TITLES (4th Ed., Rev. 1991) -- APPENDIX D
HOW TO USE THE DOT FOR JOB PLACEMENT
Within the public Employment Service system the primary purpose for assigning a DOT code and title to a job applicant or employer job order is to facilitate the process of "finding people for jobs and jobs for people". The occupational code is a method of searching files to locate qualified applicants and to match their qualifications with available job orders. In some Employment Service offices, the Employment Service automated system provides on-line computerized access to job openings arranged in terms of DOT occupational codes making it possible for applicants to match their background and experience to job openings related to their interests.
Proper classification of both job openings and job applicants is vital to the efficient operation of the Employment Service system, and to maintain the accuracy of statistical reporting systems which are based on the DOT coding structure. The coding structure of the DOT is specifically designed to facilitate this process. The unique 9-digit code shown for each occupation allows job interviewers to perform file searches providing the linkage between an applicant's work experience and employer job orders.
The section entitled "How to Find an Occupational Title and Code" describes how to use the Occupational Group Arrangement, the Industry Arrangement, the Alphabetical Index and other DOT components to assure proper occupational coding of jobs and applicants. The occupational classification system in the revised fourth edition of the DOT arranges occupational titles within a given technology in order of work-performance complexity. It can assist in identifying occupational progression and skill transfers vertically within a technology or horizontally among closely related technologies. Each occupational definition also provides essential job placement information by indicating the industry or industries in which a given occupation is found and by describing job tasks and task variables.
The use of the DOT for job placement is summarized here in relation to the following Employment Service operations: Classifying Job Applications; Classifying Job Orders; Matching Workers to Orders; and Assisting Special Applicant Groups.
(1) Classifying Job Applicants
Job interviewers will find it useful to structure the applicant interview in accordance with the way information is provided in a DOT occupational definition. By framing specific questions to elicit detailed information concerning the jobseeker's training, experience and preferences, a job interviewer can assess the individual in terms of fields of work, job content and worker requirements for an individual occupation in the Dictionary . An appropriate code number and job title can then be assigned to complete the interview process. (See "How to Find an Occupational Title and Code".)
To ensure the correct occupational code and title is assigned to each application, the following steps should be followed:
(a) Using information obtained from the job seeker, make a tentative selection of an occupational code and title.
(b) Review the requirements of the particular occupation selected, and match them against past experience, training, job preferences, job interests and any test or assessment results of the applicant to verify that the occupation best fits the applicant for purposes of job placement.
(c) Supplement the data with labor market information reflecting job opportunities in the local area. Review all the information obtained and assign a final primary occupational code and title to the applicant. Be sure the assigned code reflects the jobseeker's highest level of achievement and ability.
(d) Additional codes and titles should be assigned as appropriate by repeating the steps outlined above to identify the applicant's related skills and training.
(2) Classifying Job Orders
Assigning appropriate classification codes and titles to job openings is a process complementary to that of classifying job applicants.
The order taker should review the structure content of job definitions in the Dictionary to assure that all of the required information needed for proper classification is obtained. The information needed is that contained in the lead statement and task element statements of each occupational definition. (See "Parts of the Occupational Definition".)
Occupational definitions in the DOT are written to reflect the most typical characteristics of a job as it occurs in the American economy. Task element statements in the definitions may not always coincide with the way work is performed in particular establishments or localities.
If the occupational code and title is not easily determined, the DOT definition finally selected should be reviewed carefully. If alternate methods of performing a job are described in the DOT definition, the order taker should review the definition with the employer to determine which description fits the firm's operation. After determining which methods described in the DOT definition are actually used in the particular establishment involved, the order taker may assign an appropriate DOT code.
Only part of the jobs contained in the DOT are found in any given labor market area. In some instances, carefully developed desk aids containing titles, codes and definitions may be useful in assigning DOT codes and titles. However, a person or job should never be forced into a code simply because it is common in the local labor market.
(3) Matching Workers to Orders
The DOT occupational definitions are the bridge in the job-matching process, linking qualified applicants with suitable job openings. Whether a placement office operates under a manual or computerized system, or is in transition, a successful job match is critically dependent upon correct input into the system.
The importance of correct input is more crucial, and reliance on the DOT classification system may be even greater, in the case of computer-assisted placement systems which include job matching.
Keep in mind that it is generally easier to find a good match when you know the following information:
- Job tasks workers are required to perform
- The purpose of the work
- Machines, tools, equipment or work aids used
- Materials, products, subject matter (academic discipline) or services involved
- Instructions received and the independent judgment that a worker exercises during job performance
- Where the work is located (outdoors: on a farm, a forest tract, on water, etc.; indoors: an office, a factory, school, etc.).
Computerized Job Service matching can improve the efficiency of placement activities in a system by allowing interviewers to use the DOT to:
(a) verify the accuracy and completeness of applications and job orders and ensure appropriate classifications are assigned;
(b) verify data on intake forms at the point of data entry and monitor the output of program or labor market information; and
(c) provide alternate search strategies using the DOT classification system within the capabilities of the computerized system.
(4) Assisting Special Applicant Groups
Entry Level Workers
Entry workers often have little or no training, education or job experience geared to specific occupational requirements. They may also lack the necessary licenses or certification for certain jobs in which they express interest. In one way or another, they may not be fully competitive with more experienced jobseekers.
An effective method of classifying such workers is to review the individual's educational background, interests, hobbies, casual or leisure time work experience, worker traits, and other indicators of potential occupational abilities and skills. For example, if the applicant had an interest in science activities in school, they might be considered for a laboratory job if such openings are available in the area. The final code assigned should allow the individual the greatest possible exposure to work or training opportunities in relation to interests, skills and abilities.
In a manual matching system, it is not usually possible to assign a 9-digit code to an entry worker, but every effort should be made to assign an appropriate 6-digit code and generalized title. One method of indicating that the individual is an entry worker is to replace the period after the third digit in the occupational code with an (x). For example, if an entry worker is assigned the job title LABORATORY TESTER (any industry), the 6-digit code assigned would be 029x261. In a computerized matching system, there is no standard method of recording entry classifications, since the recording procedures can vary from state to state.
U.S. veterans seeking civilian jobs are usually given preference in file search and referral activities by public employment service offices. To give veterans the maximum opportunity to qualify for openings, both their civilian experience and the occupational training they received during their military careers must be fully reflected in their occupational classification and code. The inclusion of significant military occupations in the DOT assists in providing correct input and increases the chances of finding a job match.
The Department of Defense Military Career Guide 1988-1989 , prepared in cooperation with the Department of Labor and published in 1987, is an important reference document in this area. It consolidates occupational information from all branches of the Armed Services and related military-to-DOT occupations.
The procedure for coding entry workers may also be applied to disabled or differently-abled workers and applicants with limited or nonrelevant work experience registering under various assistance or human resource development programs. The interviewer must not assume that a disability automatically precludes a worker from performing a particular job. Companies will often make special accommodations to employ disabled persons (in fact, some accommodations are legally required).
If a person has strong or special physical capabilities which would allow them to accommodate to certain tasks, these also should be taken into account. The interviewer may refer to the Handbook for Analyzing Jobs or his or her regional Occupational Analysis Field Center if he or she has any questions regarding the physical demands listed for a specific occupation in the DOT. Remember that additional information from testing and reinterviewing applicants may be used to review and/or revise an individual's assigned occupational classification.
Other Special Applicants
Persons in certain life situations may, based on the stressful nature of these situations, be considered in the category of special applicant. In addition to the applicant groups cited above, interviewers may be called upon to assist applicants who are difficult to place such as low-skilled youth, older workers, ex-offenders, drug abusers, seasonal or displaced reentrants to the labor market and others who need to work but challenge a counselor's placement skills. To most effectively place clients in available local jobs, interviewers must sometimes evaluate the broader needs and values of applicants including their work attitudes, personality and need for transitional support such as remedial education, medical or mental health care, transportation and day care.
The employment interviewer, to respond to this challenge, must try to determine the applicant's work resources including abilities, interests, physical capabilities, work history and experience, education and leisure activities. Use of support material such as the Guide for Occupational Exploration and the Occupational Outlook Handbook (available at most libraries) is usually advisable. These easy-to-read books, published by the Department of Labor, provide information on several job factors including specific work duties, training and education, earnings, working conditions and future opportunities.
The important thing is not the job title, but the skills and abilities required by the job. An applicant whose experience and aptitudes are matched to an occupation never considered before is a real success story. The interviewer, with effective use of the DOT, can play a pivotal role in that process.