Explore Careers

Now that you know what your skills, interests, and work values are you are ready to explore occupations. You should know which occupations match who you are before you apply for jobs.

Why You Need to Explore Careers


What Career Changers Need to Know

As a job seeker you have many options for your job search: you can change occupations, change industries, or look for a job in the same occupation and industry you have been in. This process also works for job seekers that have been out of the workforce for a long period of time.

Here are some things you need to know about yourself and the job market before you explore occupations and/or industries:

Find Career Information

Start researching occupations.
Using the occupations you listed in the Occupations that Match Your Assessments (pdf), you can go online and use the Career Informer tool (under Career Services) to find more information about each specific occupation.

For each occupation, pay attention to:

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

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, 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
  4. Contact the person to set up an interview:
    a) by telephone,
    b) by a letter followed by a telephone call, or
    c) by having someone who knows the person make the appointment for you. 
  5. Conduct the Interview
  6. Dress appropriately, arrive on time, be polite and professional. 
    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. Follow Up
  8. Immediately following the interview, record the information gathered. 
    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.

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

  1.  On a typical day in this position, what do you do?
  2.  What training or education is required for this type of work?
  3.  What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
  4.  What part of this job do you find most satisfying? most challenging?
  5.  How did you get your job?
  6.  What opportunities for advancement are there in this field?
  7.  What entry level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
  8.  What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
  9.  How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
  10.  Is there a demand for people in this occupation?
  11. What special advice would you give a person entering this field?
  12. What types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?
  13. What are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field?
  14. Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
  15. What do you think of the experience I've had so far in terms of entering this field?
  16. From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?
  17. If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
  18. With the information you have about my education, skills, and experience, what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research further before I make a final decision?
  19. What do you think of my résumé? Do you see any problem areas? How would you suggest I change it?
  20. Who do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may I use your name?

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.

Online Career Exploration Resources

Exploring Health Care Careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the health care industry will have the largest growth in jobs compared to all other industries. In the next few years 26% of all new jobs will be created in the health care and social assistance industry. This includes jobs in public and private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, individual care, and family services. That equals an estimated 4 million new job opportunities.

Below is a short list of some of the many health care occupations that will experience growth. Using your Interest code from Assess Yourself you can begin exploring some of these occupations.

Occupation Interest
Education Average annual
Average annual
job Openings
SIC Associate's degree $70,200 1,250
Personal and 
Home Care Aide
SRC High school diploma plus
home health aide
$20,012 612
CS Some college $34,727 184
SCR High school diploma and
on-the-job training
$34,640 181
Dental Assistant CRS High school diploma, and 
$40,003 168
SRC Master's degree and 
$73,686 99

To continue to explore health care occupations you can go to the Virtual Career Network. This site will provide you with occupational descriptions, tasks, required education, and average annual salary.