Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Increase Your Job Security: Become a Free Agent

To increase your job security and career well-being, adopt a free agent outlook on work. This means spending time planning ahead, building marketable skills, and prioritizing your health and family. Doing so will empower you in the job market. 

Americans are vulnerable to forced career and job changes – this is the nature of our economy and our physical and mental frailty as human beings. I know this personally and from years practicing labor and employment law and volunteering at my neighborhood legal clinic. Statistics also bear this out.

Today the number of long term unemployed people (out of work over 6 months) remains historically high, at nearly 30% of the total unemployed. More than 22% of the unemployed have been out of work for over a year. (BLS, 2015)

Americans are also financially vulnerable. A recent Gallup poll found that half of us are unprepared for sudden financial need, like a major purchase, medical event, or job loss.

Lastly, employers are outsourcing the jobs we thought were safe from export. In just one example, technology workers at Disney were laid off after training foreign "guest" workers as replacements. A recent New York Times article explains this is not an isolated instance.
People’s stories of feeling trapped in and out of jobs haunt me. They feel powerless and acted upon by employers, mostly by legal means, and a rapidly changing job market. And they are educated people, like technology workers, business owners, teachers, police officers, and financial professionals. Any of us gainfully employed could be one of them.

But we can do things now to make ourselves less vulnerable. Instead of feeling trapped or ill-prepared for the next layoff, we can plan ahead for our next job or career change.

Adopting this outlook will help, as will saving more money this year for your emergency fund.  Having Plan B and a safety net go a long way toward increasing your job security.

One way I follow this advice is by keeping my lawyer “bar card” active and volunteering to keep my legal skills strong even though I have no plans to return to my own law practice. I still get to do what enjoyed most as a lawyer without the stress or overhead hassle.

We don’t need to be as vulnerable and many of us have the power to do something about it. Don’t let day to day work distract you from what matters most and your job security.

Catch Up with Recent Career Key Newsletters

Happy New Year! If you haven't signed up for our newsletter or missed our most recent ones, feel free to catch up with these links.
I try to put career development research, humor, Career Key news, cool links and downloads in one short package!

If you like what you read, sign up here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New College and Career Readiness Infographic from Career Key

Career Key's new college and career readiness infographic shows the American School Counselor Association's (ASCA) new ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success covered when students take the Career Key's career interest inventory. Counselors can use the infographic to easily visualize how their use of Career Key aligns with these research-based standards.
College and career readiness

The assessment, based on Holland's Theory of Career Choice, helps middle and high school students make sense of career choices and choosing classes by identifying careers that match their personality and interests.  Research shows this match leads to higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and success.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

New Career Key Test and Activity Booklet Published

We just reprinted and updated the Career Key Test and Activity Booklet, now available for sale on Amazon. (Free shipping!) They cost about $2 apiece and are sold in sets of 35 booklets.

These booklets are perfect for when you need an easy, printed activity that covers the career essentials for students and adults in classes and workshops...

The 20 page, color booklet includes the self-scoring Career Key test, a description of Holland's Theory of Career Choice including the hexagon, and recommended activities with worksheets to further engage in the career exploration process, like:
  • Learning more about occupations
  • Learning more about yourself
  • Creating a career portfolio, and
  • How to make a good decision.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Find your academic tribe! July's Free Agent, the Career Key Newsletter

Is helping others find their academic tribe, the right college major environment on your Fall list for working with high school or college students? Good for you - research says it's worth the extra time to delve into. To read the feature article about it, visit the July 2015 issue of our enewsletter, The Free Agent.  Be sure to subscribe on Career Key's home page,, if you like what you see.

The newsletter has Career Key news, humor, and research you can use.  There are links we've come across we think are worth sharing, in addition to free downloads.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Recent Career Development Research on Physical Disabilities

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Veterans Day November 11, I gleaned some practice tips from recent research studies on physical disability and career development.

The goal is to inform and link career development practitioners working with disabled clients to research and resources they may not be aware of. 

Why should we pay attention to disability in career development? 
  1. In 2005, one in five U.S. residents reported some level of disability (U.S. Census 2008) with the number rising with large numbers of returning veterans. 
  2. Individuals with disabilities comprise the largest minority group in the United States, with almost half the population living with one or more chronic health conditions. (Foley-Nipcon and Lee, 2012)
Finding: Severity of the disability and age of disability onset matters

When counseling physically disabled individuals, “the perceived severity of the disability and the point in the life span at which it occurred are not negligible details…”*

Study authors found that:
  • Disability severity and age of onset significantly relate self-efficacy with Realistic, Artistic, Social and Conventional domains. Only the Investigative domain had insignificant relation – perhaps because of its focus “on mental tasks performed alone and that require minimal physical mobility."
  •  “[S]elf-rated disability severity does not have a detrimental relation with vocational self-efficacies among those who become disabled early in life.”
  •  By contrast, “individuals who become disabled later in life show a steeply negative relationship between self-rated disability severity and self-efficacies.”
*Tenenbaum, R. Z., Byrne, C. J., and Dahling, J. J. (2014). Interactive Effects of Physical Disability Severity and Age of Disability Onset on RIASEC Self-Efficacies, Journal of Career Assessment, Vol. 22(2) 274-289.  Note: this study did not include anyone with blindness. Please see any other limitations the authors list.

This study supports recommendations in the diverse populations chapter of NCDA’s Career Development Facilitator “Facilitating Career Development: Student Manual (Rev. 2nd Edition). It recommends that practitioners consider when in the lifespan the disability occurred – taking into account possible feelings of loss, guilt and grief.

Additional resources:
National Career Development Association website’s List of Resources for People with Disabilities

Eby, L. T., Johnson, C. D., & Russell, J. E. A. (1998). A psychometric review of career assessment tools for use with diverse individuals. Journal of Career Assessment, 6, 269–310.

Feldman, D. C. (2004). The role of physical disabilities in early career: Vocational choice, the school-to-work transition, and becoming established. Human Resource Management Review, 14, 247–274.

Foley-Nicpon, M., & Lee, S. (2012) Disability research in counseling psychology journals: A 20-year content analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology 59, 392–398.

Peterson, D. B., & Elliott, T. R. (2008). Advances in conceptualizing and studying disability. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counseling psychology (4th ed., pp. 212–230). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

If you know of other research or resources I have not included, please leave a comment and I will add it to the post.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

4 Ways Veterans Can Successfully Make the Military to Civilian Transition

To celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, Career Key recommends four strategies veterans can use to make a successful military to civilian transition. They are:
  1. Evaluate your readiness to make a career decision
  2. Use the 4 S's Transition Model for a little structure and self-assessment: Situation, Self, Supports, and Strategies
  3. Explore and narrow career options to personality-career matches using Holland's Theory, and
  4. Follow the 4-step ACIP decision making model.
To see the full details, see press release, "4 Success Strategies for Veterans Making the Military to Civilian Transition" dated October 31, 2014.

Take action now by:
  1. Evaluating your readiness to make decisions using the Career Decision Profile.
  2. Visiting this short slideshow that explains the 4 S Transition Model and asking yourself questions about the 4 S's.
  3. Learning about how to match your personality with career options
  4. Download a free Decision Balance Sheet and watch a short video about decision making at the Career Key website.