Career Key

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

4 Positive Actions to Make Your Ideal Career a Reality

If you’re choosing a career or making a career change, infusing your decision-making with a positive approach will help you move forward. What are you doing right? And how can you choose a career direction that uses more of what works for you? Here are 4 actions to take in your positive approach:
  1. Find what “works” within yourself; each person has something that works.
  2. Focus on what you want your reality to be. Your focus = your reality.
  3. When making a decision about your future, take with you what was best about the past. You will be more confident and secure making a future career move when you take parts of the past with you. Even past disappointments can showcase your strengths like persistence, integrity, adaptability, etc.
  4. Use positive, forward-looking language about your decision; the language you use creates your reality.
I made this list based on the 8 assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry in The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry by Sue Annis Hammond. Appreciative Inquiry is an “organizational change philosophy” that looks at what works with an organization to make future plans and decisions.

If you’re interested in discovering what “works” about you, please try the activities in our Career Key article “Identify Your Skills,” in particular the “motivated skills” section. The activities in “Learn More About Yourself” will also help you.

If a strengths-based approach to your career appeals to you, we highly recommend the Dependable Strengths workshops; learn more at this non-profit's website: Dependable Strengths. As always, we do not get paid for recommending other resources.

Sometimes focusing on the obstacles that stand in your way is too de-motivating, resulting in discouragement and inaction. Try a more positive approach and see what happens – it can’t be worse than “I can’t do it!”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lobsters, Chefs, and Career Exploration

I just read an inspiring career exploration story about a would be chef and high school senior, Chelsea Ciomei, who lives on Deer Isle in mid-coast Maine. According to a story in the local newspaper, the Island Ad-Vantages, she helped organize student volunteers to prepare and serve a “top chef” fund raising dinner for the Island Culinary and Ecological Center (ICEC). Several very high profile chefs donated their time to this event.

ICEC’s “long term goal is to provide culinary and ecological education and training that will lead to job opportunities for Island young people, and open up new resources for adults.”

My family and I have been “summer people” on Deer Isle since the mid 1980s. It is a spectacularly beautiful place but with limited career opportunities. (Here’s a plug: please buy Maine lobster! It tastes so much better than other type of lobster - no offense to our Caribbean friends) So it takes a lot of initiative and creativity to explore careers on or close to the Island.

We can learn from and be inspired by others' creativity in combining their career interests with volunteer work for a good cause. With whom can you volunteer to learn more about a career that interests you?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Focus on What Career Interventions Work at CANNEXUS 2010

One of our scientifically valid assessments, The Career Decision Profile, will be in the spotlight at January's CANNEXUS 2010, the premier national career development conference in Canada. "Measuring the Impact of Career Interventions: How Do You Know It Works?" is especially relevant given this challenging budget environment. Every dollar has to demonstrate results.

Felicity Morgan and Joan McCurdy-Meyers from the University of Toronto Mississauga Career Centre will be presenting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning (Jan. 26) of the conference. I took the liberty of quoting the abstract below from the preliminary programme:

Measuring the Impact of Career Interventions:
How Do You Know It Works?

Career counsellors have developed many different types of interventions to assist their populations. Most of us check in with our clients as to their satisfaction with our work, but do we fully measure what impact our interventions have?

The University of Toronto Mississauga Career Centre has undertaken a multi-year project to measure the impact of our career planning workshops beyond the post workshop evaluation form. Using the Career Decision Profile and other measures, we’re analyzing what effect our workshops might be having, examining results for statistical significance and effecting changes to our interventions along the way.

Our session will explain the process we’ve gone through, the positives and the negatives, how we think we’ve benefited and some possible next steps.
I am also giving a presentation at CANNEXUS 2010 - the subject of a different post. Early Bird conference registration rates end on November 15 so make sure to register soon!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Career Counseling in Workforce Development is Cost-Effective. Who Knew? We did.

Linking the terms cost-effective and workforce development (or any government enterprise) is a risky business these days - but I'm going to go out on limb here because I'm armed with "think tank" report! Earlier this year, The Brookings Institution issued a report on how to make U.S. workforce development more cost-effective, focusing on One-Stop career centers. Among the conclusions:

One main ingredient to getting job seekers reemployed quickly in training programs giving a “high return” (in salary, benefits, skills) is:

Expanding assessment and counseling for potential trainees.

The Career Key has been an important contributor to assessment and counseling for over 20 years (10+ years online) so this conclusion is, frankly, no surprise to us or other professional career and school counselors.

For example, what do we know for sure in the health care debate? Incentives, incentives, incentives. If you don’t change them, people’s behavior will not change either. So it goes in workforce development. If you are evaluated on how many clients you see a day, the focus will be on quantity, not quality. So give counselors the time and tools to do their jobs and the long-term rewards (and taxpayer savings) will come.

Whew. Off my soapbox now.

Because of our public service mission, we offer the most high-quality, easy to use, affordable resources for workforce development. Workforce boards, agencies, and comparable nonprofits link to us and make group discount purchases from all over the country.

I decided to put together answers to the most common questions about The Career Key I get from Workforce Development professionals:

Does The Career Key test measure aptitude?
No, we offer a scientifically valid interest inventory based on Holland’s Theory of Career Choice, the most respected and widely used career theory in career counseling. We were the first to offer a scientifically valid career test on the Internet in 1997 and we remain one of the few.

What if our funding grant requires testing for aptitude and interests?
We are unaware of any one scientifically valid assessment measuring interests AND aptitude. (Please let us know if you find one). We recommend taking advantage of our group discounts (see below) to purchase our scientifically valid interest inventory and find a separate aptitude test that meets your agency’s needs.

What makes The Career Key different than other interest-based career tests?
  • scientifically validity
  • faster to complete than other comparable measures
  • the most affordable of comparable measures
  • our unique classification system for matching occupations makes it easier to explore more job and education options (250+ careers with a broad range of skill and education levels)
  • comprehensive, accurate information about each occupation from the OOH
  • we are the first and only scientifically valid Holland measure to match test results to all 1,400+ college majors, training and instructional programs in the U.S. See our new eBook The Education Key,
  • we are the first and only Holland measure to match test results to the DOE's Career Clusters and Pathways. See our new Career Clusters and Career Pathways eBook.
What if we don’t have Internet or computer access?
We offer a self-scoring, paper/pencil version of The Career Key test (see prices below). And for no extra charge your clients can use their test results at any Internet connected computer (home, public library) to explore more matching careers and career information at our free online article “Match Your Personality with Careers.”

How much does The Career Key cost?
Our website of professional quality career counseling articles: free – no license fee or registration required. We do not show ads or any kind of paid links or sponsorships.
Group discounts for tests and eBooks:
The Career Key test:
The Career Decision Profile: (same paper/pencil price as The Career Key test)

Popular eBooks with content found nowhere else:

The Education Key: Choosing the Right College Major, Training or Instructional Program eBook ($3 each when at least 5 are purchased)
5 Steps to Choosing the Right Career Cluster, Field or Pathway ($3 each when at least 5 are purchased)

Why shouldn’t I use the free O*Net Interest Profiler for measuring interests?
At $1 per test taking through our group discount, there is no excuse to use a free, invalid test like the O*Net IP. Please keep in mind that:
"Counselors [shall] carefully consider the validity, reliability, psychometric limitations, and appropriateness of instruments when selecting tests for use in a given situation or with a particular client." -- American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
We love and recommend so many other free government resources like our favorite, The Occupational Outlook Handbook.

How can I afford (professionally and financially) to take a risk on trying The Career Key in my well-intentioned but rigid bureaucracy?
We can offer you a free trial, provide you with copies of and citations to independent research studies, and a list of groups and institutions nationwide that use our resources.

Please email me at julietjones at And if you mention this blog post, I'll email you a free copy of the newly revised professional Career Key Manual, a $14.95 value. You can see our free abbreviated online version at our website here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

5 Ways to Spark Your Creativity In Choosing a Career

If you want to be creative when choosing your career and consider what truly makes you happy, try these 5 ways to spark your creativity:
  1. Explore and watch episodes of this inspiring PBS documentary series. In a big green RV, students go on a roadtrip meeting new people and talking with them about their life and work. This series is fun and thought-provoking to watch, whatever your age.
  2. Watch Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling book "Eat, Pray, Love," talk on TED about creativity and nurturing the “genius” in each of us. She’s funny and original.
  3. Identify Your Skillsat The Career Key website, paying special attention to “Motivated Skills,” those skills you enjoy using. Often people make the mistake of only focusing what they know how to do, instead of what they enjoy doing.
  4. Read Yes! Magazine’s “10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy.” Most of these strategies are directly related to what you choose to do for a living. What do you truly "need" to make you happy? You may find self-employment or rewarding, meaningful work makes you a living you can afford after all.
  5. Do one activity this weekend that is outside your normal pattern. For example, go have a coffee or meal at a place or part of town you would not normally go to. Go to a park you’ve never visited before. Attend a community event you would normally not attend. What kinds of people did you see? What did you learn about yourself and what you enjoy doing? Can you do something similarly “out of the box” related to work that interests you? Call someone up for coffee or an information interview you might not normally approach.
Do you have other suggestions for jump starting your creativity when it comes to choosing your work?