Explore Careers

The Explore Careers section will help you learn about occupations. Do you know what your skills, interests and work values are? Then you are ready to explore occupations. If not, go back to the Assess Yourself section to find out more.

You should know which occupations match your goals before you apply for jobs. Exploring careers will help you to find these occupations.

Why You Need to Explore Careers

You'll find accurate information about your work options and places to work.

What Career Changers Need to Know

Job seekers have many options. You can look for a new job that is similar to your last job. You can work in the same occupation and in the same industry. You might look for job that is in the same occupation, but you would work in a different industry. Or you could work in a new occupation and in a different industry.

Choosing to look for a job in an occupation different from your old job, or in an different industry is called "changing careers." Find out more about the differences between jobs, occupations, and industries.

Here are some things you need to know about yourself and the job market before you change careers:
 

Find Career Information

Start researching occupations.
Using the occupations you listed in the Occupations that Match Your Assessments activity you can go online and use the Occupational profile tool to find more information about each specific occupation.

For each occupation, pay attention to:

Where else can you find career information?

Informational Interviewing
One of the best sources for gathering information about what's happening in an occupation or an industry is to talk to people working in the field. This process is called informational interviewing. An informational interview is an interview that you initiate - you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, expand your personal network, and build relationships; not to get a job.

Following are some good reasons to conduct an informational interview:

Listed below are steps to follow to conduct informational interviews:

  1. Prepare for the Interview
    Read all you can about the field prior to the interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about the occupation/industry. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to have answered. 
  2. Identify People to Interview 
    Start with lists of people you already know - friends, relatives, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, etc... Professional organizations, the yellow pages, organizational directories and public speakers are also good resources. You may also call an organization and ask for the name of the person by job title. 
  3. Arrange the Interview by contacting the individual:
    a. by telephone,
    b. by a letter or email followed by a telephone call, or
    c. by having someone who knows the person make the appointment for you. 
  4. Prepare for the meeting. Make a list of questions you would like answered.
  5. Dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be polite and professional.
  6. Conduct the Interview.
    Refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. Before leaving, ask your contact to suggest names of others who might be helpful to you and ask permission to use your contact's name when contacting these new contacts. 
  7. Immediately following the interview, record the information gathered.
  8. Follow Up with any contacts you were given or requests made by the person you are interviewing.
  9. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your contact within one week of the interview.

NOTE: Always analyze the information you've gathered. Adjust your job search, résumé, and career objective if necessary.

20 Suggested QUESTIONS!
Prepare a list of your own questions for your informational interview. Following are some sample questions:

Making long-term goals or thinking about a future career change?
Thinking about starting or changing careers in a few years? Then look at the growth of occupations. Sometimes that is called long-term projections, or growth rate. "High-growth" occupations are also called "in-demand" or "bright outlook" careers. An occupation with high growth is likely to need many workers in the next few years.

Need to make a career change or find employment right now?
Job vacancy reports help you to know which industries need workers right now. Job vacancies show the occupations that employers were recently hiring. They also show the average pay, and the training employers required of those they hired. Reviewing this information will tell you what industry to look into if you need a job immediately.

Use the Occupational Research Summary (pdf) worksheet to keep track of your research.

Online Career Exploration Resources

What Are Career Clusters?

Career clusters are one way to group occupations. Careers that need the same knowledge and skills are in the same cluster. Every career that you can think of is in one of 16 career clusters. Each cluster can include hundreds of different careers.

Using clusters can help you to look at few career choices without focusing on only one occupation. If you target one specific career choice too soon you might miss other options that might be a good fit for you.

The 16 Career Clusters

Online Career Cluster Resources

  • Creating a plan for your next steps.
  • Creating goals.