Welcome to our career blog...

The Career Key's mission is to help people make the best career, college major, and self-employed choices. In this career blog, we share practical tips about:

- Making science-based career decisions throughout your life,
- Choosing a college major, training, or instructional program,
Choosing career clusters, fields or career pathways, and
- Deciding whether being self-employed is right for you.

The Career Key's Vice President, Juliet Wehr Jones, J.D., GCDF with input from Career Key author Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, discuss these topics with seriousness and a touch of humor.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Career Key Test's new version - a video demo for group customers

If you are interested in video demos of the new version of the Career Key test going live later this month, start with this video. It's specifically for Career Key's group customers. For more information about the new version of the Career Key test, visit Career Key's Group Discount page.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Holland Personality Type Patterns That Are Inconsistent - and Their Advantages

One part of using Holland's Theory of Career Choice to choose a career is the concept of choosing a compatible work environment, one that matches your strongest personality types. Most people are a combination of types, most often found close to one another on the Holland Hexagon. The hexagon shows the relationship between the types - the closer they are to one another, the more compatible.

But what if your strongest personality types are opposite each other on the hexagon, like Realistic-Social (RS) Investigative-Enterprising (IE), or Conventional-Artistic (CA)? These are sometimes referred to as inconsistent personality patterns. But don't be alarmed.

While these combinations are less common, they are normal. In fact, Career Key's author Dr. Lawrence K. Jones has an inconsistent pattern himself: Realistic-Social. His personal story also shows these characteristics.

To learn more about understanding and taking advantage of these kinds of personality type combinations, visit Career Key's articles:

If you're new to Holland's approach, then start with our Holland's Theory of Career Choice article. We plan on adding a short video about inconsistent personality patterns soon to Career Key's YouTube channel so please subscribe if you want to be notified when that comes out.

Is College Worth It? 6 Ways to Increase Chances of Success in College

More students and parents are asking themselves, is college is worth it? A recent Pew study visualized in TIME magazine finds more people questioning college's value, and yet statistics are clear that it is. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's 2014 report, "Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs?" shows compelling reasons to go to college. But the report raises valid concerns about underemployment after graduation and the differing value of certain college majors and skills in the labor market.

Like anything else, research and planning ahead give a big payoff in these types of life decisions.  In Career Key's new website article"Is College Worth It?", counseling psychologist Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, NCC looks at whether people are getting good jobs after graduation based on the latest statistics. Then he recommends how people can increase their chances of success after college graduation.

These recommendations include:

  1. Choose a major that matches your personality and interests.
  2. Consider choosing a major in high school before you choose a college.
  3. Be open to choosing a good job that does not require a 4 year degree.
  4. Have realistic employment expectations; Underemployment is a reality you may have to face.
  5. Be smart and make good decisions about your education plans using an effective decision making process.
  6. Be aware of how the nature of work is changing and plan ways you can respond and adapt.

For more about why college is worth it and what's behind these recommendations, visit Career Key's Choose a College Major section and "Is College Worth It?"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Help Choosing a Major Needed More Than Ever

Statistics show that students need help choosing a major now more than ever.  The November 2013 ACT College Choice Report found that only about one-third (36%) of college bound students taking the ACT are choosing majors that fit their interests or Holland personality. And we know from personality-major match research, this will very likely negatively impact these students' success.

Research shows that students who do choose a major that fits their personality and interests, what we call a close “personality-major match,” are more likely to succeed in college with:
(1) higher grades;
(2) greater persistence in a major; and
(3) higher on-time graduation rates.

College completion rates continue to be low. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 38 percent of students entering a 4 year college graduate in 4 years, 59 percent in six. About 40 percent drop out. (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013).

And there is a steep financial penalty to those who switch majors and delay graduation.  One study showed that those working toward a bachelor’s degree lose in earnings, on average, $50,000 (adjusted for inflation) for each additional year it takes to finish their degree.  In addition, many studies support increased salary and job satisfaction for people who choose a career that matches their personality.

So how can students make better decisions about majors? Career Key has several affordable resources students can use to make good education decisions:
Match Up! EBook, available in the Career Key Store
  1. Free eBook downloads: “Choosing a College Major Based on Your Personality: What does the research say?” We also have a special Professionals’ Guide to Personality College Major Match and Student Success for counselors, career development professionals, and educators.
  2. Career Key's unique eBook, Match Up! Your Personality to College Majors and Training Programs 2014. Used with results of the Career Key career test, it offers the only complete list of U.S. and Canadian majors and programs of study scientifically classified by Holland personality type – enabling a close personality-major match.
  3. Self-help articles like What is a College Major, Personality Major Match, Holland College Major Environments, and What are Liberal Arts Majors.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Job is Best for Me? 2014: New Edition of Popular EBook

What Job is Best for Me?, Career Key's most popular eBook, has just been updated for 2014. For people choosing a career, it is recommended as a companion to the Career Key's valid career test.  This career interest inventory is based on the respected Holland's Theory of Career Choice.

In the eBook, Career Key author and nationally recognized counseling psychologist Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, NCC focuses on helping people narrow their career choices and how to make the best career decision.  It include a free decision balance sheet and many articles on ways to learn more about career options and career specific networking.

Dr. Jones also shares his personal career journey in photos and words.  His background and experience as the first in his family to attend college and graduate school gives him a unique perspective on the challenges of taking risks in career choices.

"What Job is Best for Me?" 2014 is available for purchase in the Career Key Store for $8.95.  There is a special 20% discount when the Career Key test and What Job is Best for Me? are purchased together, for $14.50.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New 2012-2022 BLS Employment Projections: What Career Counselors Need to Know

The U.S. 2012-2022 Employment Projections provide new data for career counselors and career development professionals to rely upon in helping people make career and education choices.  I put together a summary of resources to help you incorporate this new information in your work. You can make your own expert “take” on the data based on your experience and geographic area.

Start with the Basics and the Big Picture
You will find helpful summaries about the projections in the Winter 2013/14 issue of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly. The graphics are great for people (like me) who need a visual boost to understand data. If you are short on time, read the Introduction and the Occupational Employment section (the PDF versions are easier to read).  For those of us who do not work with these numbers every day, it helps to get reminders on how to interpret the data.  For example, “faster growth” does not necessarily mean a greater number of new jobs.

Trends and Highlights 
  • Occupations related to healthcare are projected to have the fastest growth and add the most new jobs.
  • Most growing occupations require a degree or post-secondary training/certification.
  • Workers make more money with a degree or post-secondary training/certification.
  • More older people will be working and working longer (the 65-75 age group more than any other group).
  • The labor force continues to become more diverse with Caucasians’ share declining and Hispanics’ share to rise.
  • The construction industry is recovering, but not yet to 2007 levels.
  • Most job growth is coming from replacing workers, not new jobs. 
Most of the trends are unsurprising given technology advances and the state of our economy.  Issues continue with unemployment, underemployment, and most job creation in poorly paid retail and service occupations.

Best Graphs to Look At
The best graphs to understand job outlook by occupation are in the Occupational Employment Section of the OOQ I mentioned earlier.  If you want to drill down to promising occupations by degree level, scroll down to the last half of the article (page 13 on the PDF).

Differences between the 2010-2020 and 2012-2022 Projections
Laurence Shatkin nicely summarizes in his Career Laboratory Blog the differences between the employment projections two years ago and the new ones just released.

Help Others with Critical Thinking
It pays to help people evaluating career choices take a hard look at how “promising” and growing certain occupations are. For example, lawyers continue to get a high growth and median wage marks in the BLS data.  But the legal profession is going through big upheaval and change, due to technology, the Internet, offshoring, and businesses’ willingness to pay the high cost of using large law firms.  There is also a wide gap between the number of middle-class and low income people needing legal representation and lawyers who can afford to serve them. For example, the Washington State bar association magazine has had a number of articles about these changes and the difficulties for young lawyers to get hired.  So people should not just immediately look at the graph and say, hey – lawyers is a promising career. It may be for some but there are many variables to consider.

New Projections and Occupations Added to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)

The new job outlook information is now available for specific occupations in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, just out yesterday (January 8, 2014).

As a consequence, Career Key updated its career interest inventory to include several new occupations added to the Handbook (see the Teacher’s Guide below) along with the new job outlook projections for all the test’s occupations.

There is a new version of the OOH “Not just for teachers” Teacher’s Guide, that includes a list of the new occupations listed in the Handbook. Counselors and other career development professionals will find the explanations and context for data helpful.

Funny Note: The OOH's occupational profile for legislators has been deleted, gone the way of textile occupations.  Hmmm. 

We are huge fans of both the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Occupational Outlook Quarterly. As Mr. Shatkin points out in his blog, we are extremely lucky to have government resources like these. Even Canada, Great Britain and other countries you would think have similar resources - in fact, do not.  So give a cheer for OOH and OOQ author, the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics and have fun with numbers! It only comes once every two years…

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Common Core Standards and School Counseling

Why are Common Core Standards important to school counselors?  How do they relate to ASCA Standards?  Career Key answers these questions in a new website guide, "Common Core and ASCA Standards, School Counselors and Career Key."

Career Key's author and counselor educator Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, NCC has written this guide to help school counselors collaborate with teachers in getting students career and college ready. Free resources include:

  1. "Common Core State Standards: A Challenge and Opportunity for School Counselors." PDF eBook;
  2. "Help Middle School Students Get Career/College Ready with Holland's Theory." Webinar recording (12/13/13) with Dr. Jones and myself. 100% of feedback survey respondents would recommend it to a colleague.
  3. Learning Activities with Overlapping ASCA National Model and Common Core Standards, PDF Download; and
  4. ASCA and Common Core Standards Addressed in Career Key Test Taking Scenario, PDF Download.
For more, visit our school counseling resources page at the Career Key website.