Career Key

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

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Using Your Interests to Choose the Right Career Clusters and Career Pathways

Are you a student about to choose a career cluster, career field, or career pathway? Do you want to know how the 16 career clusters and 81 career pathways are related to your interests and what you want to study in school?

Are you a counselor or parent looking for an affordable, scientifically valid assessment that will help students make a good choice?

The Career Key is proud to announce the release of the first and only resource to match the results of a valid measure of Holland’s 6 personality types with the U.S. Department of Education’s 16 career clusters, fields, and 81 career pathways.

Please read more about this new affordable ePublication (PDF) in our eBookstore:
5 Steps to Choosing the Right Career Cluster, Field, or Pathway.

You can also see a preview at our website article, "Choosing a Career Cluster, Field, or Pathway."

Finally, we created a RIASEC/Career Key map of Career Clusters and Career Pathways - the first of its kind. It's included in our website article.

These are the product of years of research. When used with The Career Key test, 5 Steps is the first and only resource to,
  • Be based on a scientifically valid career test of the Holland personality types;
  • Explain, in clear language, the meaning of the Career Clusters and Pathways;
  • Match the results of the career test to promising jobs;
  • Identify the career clusters, pathways, or fields likely to prepare you for them; and
  • Lead you step-by-step to making a good decision – a method that is simple and based on sound scientific practice.
You can purchase an individual copy for $8.95 or add The Career Key test for a total of $14.50 - a 23% savings.

Like all of our popular ePublications, we offer a substantial group discount to enable counselors, non-profits and educators to use our high quality career guidance products. Using our $1 per test group discount and this ePublication ($3 each copy when you purchase at least 5); you can administer both for only $4 per student.

And we are the only career guidance company to donate 10% of our website sales to charity. Learn more by clicking on "Profits and Donations" at our Take the Test page and reading about our public service mission.

To evaluate this ePublication (or any other) before making a group discount purchase, please email me at julietjones at I'd love to hear from you. Besides, it's pretty scary to be excited about Career Clusters unless you can share it with someone...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Career and Job Outlook for the Investigative Personality Type

If one of your top 2 or 3 Holland personality types is Investigative, you’ve hit the job outlook jackpot. In this economy, growth jobs with “liveable” wages are in technology, health care, and computer science - fields with many jobs matching the Investigative personality.

And you can choose from promising options requiring a variety of skill and education levels - a phD or medical school is not required for most jobs (not that there's anything wrong with those).

To start out, look at the Career Key career matches for you and check the job outlook for each career that interests you.

From the Career Key test and website, you’ll find direct links to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) from each career you choose to explore. Each OOH description of a career includes a job outlook section, that in turn links to state specific labor market information. Career Key Canada provides the similar links to Job Futures with employment prospect information.

If what you see in the OOH or Job Futures is not promising or you want to consider other options, read on…

Top Investigative Career Key work group* picks for promising job prospects:

2.02 Life Sciences
2.03 Health Sciences

2.04 Laboratory & Medical Technology

2.05 Computer Science & Technology

* The Career Key organizes matching careers in unique, easy to use work groups by interests, skills, and abilities. To learn more, click here.

The Investigative occupations predicted to offer the most new U.S. jobs through 2016 (listed with Career Key work group number, grouped by required education level) are:
  • Medical Scientist, except epidemiologist (2.02)
  • Physicians & Surgeon (2.03)
  • Pharmacist (2.03)
  • Veterinarian (2.03)
  • Dentist (2.02)
  • Biochemist and Biophysicist (2.02)
  • Computer and information scientist, research (2.05)
  • Management analyst (2.08)
  • Computer software engineer, applications (2.05) This career will grow more than any other Investigative career.
  • Computer systems analyst (2.05)
  • Computer support specialist (2.05)
The fastest growing of all occupations are:
  • Veterinarian (2.03)
  • Pharmacist (2.03)
  • Chiropractor (2.02)
  • Optometrist (2.03)
  • Medical Scientist, except epidemiologist (2.02)
  • Biochemist and Biophysicist (2.02)
  • Computer & information scientist, research (2.05)
  • Actuary (2.06)
  • Network systems and data communications analyst (2.05)
  • Computer software engineer, applications (2.05)
  • Veterinary technologist or technician (2.03)
  • Environmental science and protection technician, including health (2.04)
  • Cardiovascular technologist or technician (2.04)

For informative snapshots of the industries that involve the careers that interest you, use the OOH's companion Career Guide to Industries to learn more about health care, software publishing, computer systems design, scientific research and development services, and other industries. These government websites are surprisingly readable and thanks to internet - the info is much more accessible than it used to be.

In Canada, please see this list of the best Canadian job prospects in 2009:
For Investigative occupations, see:
  • Civil Engineers
  • Electrical and Chemical Engineers
  • Dentists
  • General Practitioners and Family Physicians
  • Medical Laboratory Technologists and Pathologists’ Assistants
  • Medical Technologists and Technicians (except Dental)
  • Optometrists, Chiropractors and Other Health Diagnosing and Treating Professionals
  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmacists, Dietitians, and Nutritionists
  • Specialist Physicians
A word about the other Investigative CK work groups:

2.01 Physical Sciences
The growing scarcity of water, environmental regulation, climate change make the careers in this group a positive bet for job outlook.

2.06 Mathematics & Data Analysis
Statistics and data analysis is a growth area for jobs, as recently pointed out in this recent New York Times article by Steve Lohr.

2.07 Social Sciences
There are no fast growing jobs on the list from this group. A few months ago I wrote a post about choosing a career in the humanities that is related to social sciences' challenges. But that doesn't mean a economist or historian career choice would be a mistake. Talk with people now working in the fields that interest you - do informational interviews and other research to learn more practical information about job outlook.

2.08 Engineering
Environmental engineer is the highest growing engineer job, while the largest number of engineer jobs created will be in civil engineering. Overall, the job outlook for engineers is positive. Like anything else, your location will dictate job opportunities so research your local job market.

Next post: Job Outlook for the Artistic Personality Type. (in progress) Want to see the previous posts in this series? Start with my introductory post in Your Career Options Job Outlook Cheat Sheet.

Source for U.S. Job Outlook: Tomorrow’s Jobs, 2006-16, U.S. Department of Labor
Sources for Canadian Job Outlook: Job Futures, 2009; Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
For more suggestions and activities, read our website article, Learn About Occupations.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Career Key Author at Work

I couldn't resist posting this photo of Career Key's author, Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, relying on his Realistic interests to keep his house ready for the winter elements. You architecture buffs out there will recognize the "Mansard" roof.

He's written before about his unusual combination of Realistic and Social Holland personality types.

To oversimplify, liking to work with tools and with people is an unusual combination. Are you an unusual combination?

If your highest score is in the Realistic personality type, you might be interested in my latest blog series on job outlook by personality type. I blogged about Realistic job outlook last week....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Matching Careers Now Updated

Over the weekend, we uploaded to our websites in the U.S. and Canada a complete update of our classification system for matching careers by Holland type and our unique Career Key work groups. We added more careers and updated some job titles. Links to comprehensive career information (salary, job description, job outlook) for each career were also updated.

The paper/pencil version of The Career Key test (and Canadian version) available in our eBookstore already shows the updated classification system.

We wanted to get this done before the beginning of the academic year, when many of our customers at colleges, universities and schools use The Career Key the most.

To learn more about how we organize occupations, please visit our online professional manual. Please also feel free to email me your feedback. I'm always listening.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Career Prospects for the Realistic Personality Type

If one of your top 2 or 3 Holland personality types is Realistic, then you might be a little depressed by some of the job growth trends over the last 20 years. Many typically “Realistic” industries and occupations have suffered big losses: manufacturing and production of all kinds, farming and fishing, and even construction in the recent recession. The automotive industries and their suppliers have particularly been hard hit.

But there are many other Realistic careers with positive job outlook. And even within battered industries there are some bright spots.

Things to consider:
  • Look at the Realistic occupations related to high growth industries like health care, social services (childcare and elder care), retail and restaurant, science and technology, and computer systems. Technicians and mechanics that fix medical equipment. High-skilled manufacturing like pharmaceuticals or green technology. Think outside the box. Are there any companies near you in these industries? What types of Realistic jobs do they have?
  • With any career requiring a significant physical activity (as many Realistic occupations do), consider long-term consequences and your own abilities. Will you be able to hang windows when you are 60 years old? Can you plan a transition from an entry level, intensely physical job, to a less physical one that matches your interests? Again, talk with people working in the field. What are the common injuries? Physical demands?
  • Location, location, location. If you really are interested in a particular career, regardless of what the government or “conventional wisdom” says about job outlook, talk with local people working in that career to get the real story. Maybe your area is the exception to a nationwide trend.
To get started, look at the jobs that match your interests using the Career Key test. Then check the job outlook for each career that interests you.

From the Career Key test and website, you’ll find direct links to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) from each career you choose to explore. Each OOH description of a career includes a job outlook section that links to state specific labor market information. Career Key Canada provides similar links to the Canadian government's Job Futures with employment prospect information.

Top Realistic Career Key (CK) work groups* for promising job prospects:

1.02 Safety and Law Enforcement
1.03 Engineering
1.05 Construction Crafts & Support
1.06 Crafts – Mechanical
1.07 Crafts – Electrical-Electronic
* The Career Key organizes matching careers in unique, easy to use work groups based on interests, skills, and abilities. To learn more, click here.

The Realistic occupations predicted to have the most new U.S. jobs through 2016 (listed with Career Key work group number) are:

Automotive service technician (1.06)
Carpenters (1.05)
Cooks, restaurant (1.09), and
Police officers and sheriffs (1.02)

The fastest growing is:
Audio and video equipment technician (1.03)

In Canada, please see this list of the best Canadian job prospects in 2009:
For Realistic occupations, see (with the CK work group number)
Paramedics (1.02)
Civil engineering technicians (1.03)
Mechanical engineers (1.03)
Medical radiation technologist (1.03)
Technical occupations in dental health care (1.12), and
Underground miners, oil and gas drillers, and related workers (1.11).

A word about the other CK work groups...

1.01 Agriculture and Natural Resources
Farming and fishing have taken significant hits to jobs. Support positions in forestry, mining, and farming are slowly growing, but overall technology and overseas competition makes this a stagnant or declining area – except mining, oil and gas in Canada. Small “boutique” farmers with specialty seeds and crops are making a positive go of it – but you have to find your niche to make it work.

1.04 Transportation and Distribution
While there is an overall increase in transportation operator jobs (mostly in trucking), these occupations have overall seen a jobs decline. The number and quality of the airline pilot opportunities are much different now than they were 20 years ago.

1.11 Equipment Operation
Construction is rebounding is some places as the residential and commercial real estate markets loosen up. Opportunities to drive heavy construction equipment will follow a similar path.

1.12 Manufacturing and Production
Health science related jobs like dental or ophthalmic laboratory technician can be a bright spot in an otherwise dim outlook for manufacturing and production.

Next post: Job Outlook for the Investigative Personality Type. (in progress) Want to see the previous post in this series? Start with my introductory post in your Career Options Cheat Sheet: Job Prospects by Personality Type. It also has my recommendations for best Internet links for labor market information.

Source for U.S. Job Outlook: Tomorrow’s Jobs, 2006-16, U.S. Department of Labor
Sources for Canadian Job Outlook: Job Futures, 2009; Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Increase Your Chances of Keeping your Salary Post Layoff

Want to land on your feet post-layoff? You might want to take the "lessons learned" approach to some new sobering statistics. According to new research discussed in this New York Times article, many laid off workers take years to recover and get back to their previous salary and most, on average, will not return to their pre-layoff incomes.

This new working paper by Columbia University economist Till von Wachter and two other economists found that from 1984 to 2004:
  • most workers do not return to their pre-layoff salary within 15 to 20 years;
  • starting over with a new employer and/or a new industry reduces your salary;
  • largest long-term income losses happened to those with the longest tenures at their previous employers;
  • stability at a company may lead to over-specialization of skills, making it less likely those skills can transfer to another company;
  • workers who are laid off are more likely to be laid off again;
  • older workers suffer more income decline than younger workers;
  • workers with college degrees do slightly better than those without them.
These statistics don't apply to everyone - the research was done with companies laying off at least 30% of their workforce and the laid-off workers had been with the employer at least 3 years. And most employees were men. I would also say that this research included more of the old style, cradle to grave type of career paths that no longer exist (except in government, perhaps).

What can we learn? It's a reminder that getting too comfortable in your career can damage your ability to survive a layoff with your income level intact.

Our article "The Free Agent Outlook on Work" has a number of suggestions on how to avoid, when possible, the outcomes described in this research. I also wrote a blog series earlier this year on each of the 6 principles guiding the Free Agent Worker. And finally, a few more ideas:
  • avoid too much specialization, locking yourself into work with one employer;
  • continue updating your education throughout your career; even if it's part-time; and
  • take advantage of employer-provided training.

Your Career Options Cheat Sheet: Job Prospects – by Holland Personality Type

Can’t decide on a career? Evaluating which career options will have better job opportunities? I’ve done the work to get you started with your decision. The biggest problem with researching how “in demand” a career will be is that there is a lot of information about industry growth, job creation, etc. that is hard to digest.

So I created a cheat sheet of job outlook organized by Career Key Work Group/Holland Personality type. A work group is the helpful way we organize careers within a personality type. Each group is based on skills, abilities and interests developed by Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, a recognized vocational expert. For example, “Literary Arts” is the first work group for the Artistic personality type.

First, take The Career Key test (Canadian version) and learn what your strongest Holland personality types are and choose careers that interest you.

Then, read this 7 post series (Intro + 6 personality types) to learn more about the job prospects of the work groups and careers you chose.

Job Prospects: Realistic Personality
Job Prospects: Investigative Personality
Job Prospects: Artistic Personality
Job Prospects: Social Personality
Job Prospects: Enterprising Personality (in progress)
Job Prospects: Conventional Personality (in progress)
You can also click on the label "job outlook" on the righthand menu of the blog.

To begin, a few facts and trends to keep in mind:
  • In the U.S. and Canada, the goods-based economy is transitioning to a service based one. We are making fewer things and consuming more services. And the things we do make are more complex and require more skills to produce. A high-school diploma will no longer get you a living wage production job without more training. A lot of poorly paid, low skilled jobs are being created: low-end retail, food preparation, etc. So just because a job is high growth or "in demand" does not make it a great job or the best long term choice.
  • Technology, environmental concerns, and automation are changing the way we consume energy, handle paper, and our productivity (how many people it takes to make a widget). Whole occupations are disappearing (stock clerks) while new ones are created (networks system analyst).
  • A greater proportion of the population is getting older and our skilled health care needs are rising.
  • Law enforcement and security jobs are increasing in a post 9/11 world. And the industries that support them are expanding (weapons, specialized clothing).
  • How money is made in publishing and entertainment industries is driving big changes in many Artistic and Enterprising careers. Journalists, publicists, singers and actors are just a few occupations in a state of rapid change.
What does this all mean for you as you consider your career options? Take a look at the Career Key work groups and careers that interest you the most and then check our cheat sheet over the next 6 posts. Note to Canadians: where Canada differs, I’ll bring it up. And please email your feedback – I welcome it.

Helpful Links to Job Outlook Data
In the U.S.
Tomorrow’s Jobs, Occupational Outlook Handbook
O*Net OnLine’s List of InDemand Careers, in order of highest to lowest growth, with links to more information about each occupation. You can even download and save it as a MS Excel spreadsheet or a CSV file (for anyone without MSOffice).
"Learn More About Occupations" article at the Career Key website

In Canada:
Job Futures’ list of occupations with the best job outlook in 2009
Labour Market Information by occupation and your province/territory
Industry Profiles by geographic area that includes employment prospects
"Learn More About Occupations" article at the Career Key Canada website