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.

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, www.careerkey.org, 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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Fanshawe College Pathfinder Uses Career Key's Career and College Major Test

We're proud to announce that Fanshawe College, one of the largest colleges of applied art and technology in Ontario, is now using The Career Key's valid career and college major test to match prospective students to Fanshawe's programs of study.  The online Fanshawe Pathfinder is the first college recruitment and admissions tool in Canada and the U.S. to use Personality-Major MatchTM. The Pathfinder gives students valuable information in choosing a program that fits them best and how to make a successful education decision.

Large published research studies show a close personality-major match predicts higher grades, greater persistence in a major, and higher rates of on time graduation. The benefits of this match are described in a free Career Key eBook, Choose a College Major Based on Your Personality.

Fanshawe licensed The Career Key to create the Pathfinder for their admissions and recruitment efforts. The Pathfinder will also be used in academic advising for current students and featured in public open houses and career fairs.

About Fanshawe
Fanshawe’s main campus is located in London, Ontario, about two and half hours outside Toronto. Approximately 17,000 full-time and 26,000 part-time students attend Fanshawe at five campuses. Fanshawe has a demonstrated commitment to student success. Results of the Government of Ontario’s 2013 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) survey show that Fanshawe College is above the provincial average in student satisfaction, graduate satisfaction, and graduate employment (86% of graduates find jobs shortly after graduation). To learn more about Fanshawe, visit Discover Fanshawe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What the Walmart VP Termination Over a Resume Teaches Us

Yes, it teaches us not to lie on our resume, not to leave a misimpression or omission about our credentials.  But why did Walmart’s former Vice President of Communications David Tovar feel the need to demonstrate he graduated from college?  I can’t speak for him but we know the answer… it’s because he needed the degree. You need to graduate from college if you want to make a living wage working for someone else. Like most employers, Walmart will not hire you for salaried sales or management without a college degree (example).
Living wage jobs require college or training degrees.
Want a living wage? Want to be a VP someday? Finish college.
I’ve been reading Michael Ellsberg’s The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful and other anti-college writing. The common position is that people do not need a college degree, pointing to many rich, entrepreneurial people as examples (High-tech company founders, information sales people, etc). And while I found I agreed with Ellsberg on many practical things that are wrong with higher education (and he has some great networking tips), the anti-college argument ultimately fails as a good career planning approach.  

First, a college degree or postsecondary training credential is necessary for most living-wage employment in this country; the statistics about unemployment and salaries do not lie. One reason employers require a college degree or post-secondary training credential in hiring is because it’s an easy way to screen people out, to narrow the hiring pool.  So many people are looking for jobs; employers can afford to be picky. Also, minimum job qualifications like an educational degree are legally necessary in a world where equal rights laws guard against discrimination. So does it really make sense to voluntarily cut yourself off from millions of jobs?

The anti-college crowd argues that you can creatively sell yourself into a job and if that doesn’t work (that employer must be an unimaginative boob), then start your own business. Having been happily self-employed myself at one time, I get the freedom, flexibility and success that can give you.

But self-employment and entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Not everyone has a strong Enterprising Holland personality type, someone who likes to and is good at persuading, leading, and selling things or ideas. Or is an extrovert. And while I agree with Dan Pink and many others that sales skills are needed in nearly every job now, to advise young people that a college degree is unnecessary, substituting sales and marketing skills through self-employment, is a naïve oversimplification of our work world. That's as bad as saying a college degree = a high-paying job.

Self-employment should always be a fallback option, if not a promising option for some. Having practiced labor and employment law for 10 years, I think people should be prepared, as a matter of emotional and financial survival, to be out of a job at any time, for any reason. But being prepared also means having proof of skills and education to support a job search.

Instead of warning people away from college degrees entirely, we can start by helping people approach their college years in smarter ways – identifying majors and programs of study that match their interests and Holland personality, learning more marketing skills, seeking out experiential education programs that don’t require an unpaid internship (that only wealthier parents can afford to subsidize), and adopting a flexible, free agent approach to the world of work.

If Mr. Tovar was so good at his job (it sounds like he was, given his planned promotion), he should not have needed a degree. I believe that it’s what people do, not their credentials, that matter most. But that’s not the economy and human resources legal reality we’re in. I hope and suspect Mr. Tovar will successfully bounce back from his mistake. Tellingly, it sounds like he will start by completing his degree.

5 Tips for Introverts' Success in Career Choices and in School

Introverts face certain challenges to their success at work and in the classroom. Introversion can also be a benefit.  Identifying the right compatible work and school environments can increase your chances of success.
introversion - extroversion
The Introversion-Extroversion Scale with Holland's Hexagon

By combining what we know about introverts with Holland's theory of person-environment match, Career Key author and counseling psychologist Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, NCC gives you five tips for introverts' success in this new self-help article. Find it at the Introverts link above or in our Choose a Career section.