Business Insider

ONET describes jobs for real estate agents and others

Gundars Kaupins: Human Resources
Gundars Kaupins: Human Resources

Many centuries ago, I worked at Norand Corp. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and wrote job descriptions for the 50-plus jobs in the business. The company made bar-code scanners. The bar-code industry was new, and there were no good job descriptions for the newfangled engineers.

I needed those descriptions to help to recruit employees, discover the best candidates, hire them, train them, calculate their market pay, provide the best benefits, measure performance, analyze safety, preserve security and see a partridge in a pear tree.

Employers now can pay big money for industry-specific market surveys that contain job descriptions. A free but not industry-specific tool is to use the Occupational Information Network, or ONET. This U.S. Department of Labor database provides detailed descriptions for a broad range of jobs.

Head to to hunt for your job. I searched for "Realtor" and found "real estate sales agents." The database provides the mundane info such as tasks, tools, technology, knowledge required, abilities, education required and related occupations. This info can be used without copyright worries. It allows managers a way to start working on job descriptions if they have writer's cramp.

What is cool about ONET is that it provides some insight into what makes a successful real estate agent. With a four-way tie (72 points on a 100-point scale in ONET's rating scheme), the top four skills are active listening, negotiation, persuasion and speaking. Active listening is often the top skill for managers in general.

So you think real estate agents must be social animals to survive? Social interests help, but they get just 45 points out of 100 for importance.

What gets a 100 rating is enterprising interests. These involve starting up and carrying out projects, to basically run a business. Though it should be no surprise to experienced agents, the business end is a crucial concept to those who are interested in the field.

By the way, conventional interests involving following set procedures and routines get a 72 rating. Realistic interests involving practical, hands-on problems and solutions get a 39. Artistic interests get an 11.

Check out your job or just use ONET to begin writing job descriptions.

Gundars Kaupins is a professor of management in the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University. This column appears in the April 20-May 17, 2016, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine.