Career Key

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Will You Be Shut Out of Popular Education and Career Choices? 3 Tips for Career Planning Success

When changing careers or choosing a career, you may be considering a career option in which many people are interested. What if a required education program has too many applicants, a lot of prerequisites, or is just very selective?

Competition to get into some education programs required for in-demand careers can be stiff.  Funding is being cut for community colleges and public universities, making the situation worse. Take, for example, these statistics for a top career options like nursing:

American Association of Colleges of Nursing says 75,000 qualified nursing school applicants turned away in 2011. 

Dig deep into choosing a career, college major and training program – as early as possible. And once you know what’s involved and the better prepared you are, the better your chances of getting into the program you want.

3 Tips for Career Planning Success:

1.  Fully research your career options, including related occupations. Reading these Career Key articles will help:

How can you find similar occupations?

On Career Key’s career lists, Pharmacist is found in the “Health Sciences” group under the Investigative personality type.  See all the related careers and groups.

OOH Entry for Pharmacist
2.  Fully research your education options, including different types of degrees/programs and the schools that offer them. The OOH will be a big help, especially the tabs “How to Become One” and “Contacts for More Info.” Make sure the program environment, what we call “college major environmentfits your personality. We recommend many ways to learn more about these environments.

How do you find good quality information about education programs?

Usually under the OOH's tab “Contacts for More Info,” it will link to a national association of the colleges or program providers for the required education and training programs. Rely on that organization website first before consulting commercial sites you find via Internet searches for “_____ degrees”

For example, the OOH's “Contacts for More Information” for Pharmacist links to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.  Under Resources and Student Center “Is Pharmacy for You?” I found a huge “Admissions” section with lots of informative FAQs and a whole free PDF book “Pharmacy School Admission Requirements” you can download.

 CareerOneStop’s “Education and Training Finder” can help you find information about education programs required for specific occupations located in your state, region or zip code too. 

3.  Have a back up plan if your first choices do not work out.
If you make a high-quality career decision (follow the link for 4 steps to follow and a free Decision Balance Sheet download), you’ll know what your backup choices are, information about them, and their pros and cons.

Even though it may cost more money to apply to more, less attractive schools, it's worthwhile insurance against rejection and disappointment.

And if you are unable to get into any school you are considering, working in the same industry that interests you (say Healthcare) but in a different occupation than you originally envisioned may open your eyes to new careers and opportunities you hadn’t known about.

It’s a challenge to stay positive and confident when career planning in a difficult economy. Adopting the Free Agent Outlook on Work may help – particularly principles 5 and 6:
5.  Be Loyal to Yourself and Your Family, and
6. Think “Right Thoughts.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

Career Key Career Test & New Career Information Links to the 2012-2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook

The Career Key's valid career test and online career assessment now links to the latest career information from the new 2012-13 Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) released late last week. When Career Key test takers create their personal job option list of matching occupations, each job or career is linked with career information (job requirements, education and training, salary, etc) from the new OOH.

New entry and look for "High School Teachers" in the Occupational Outlook Handboook.

Our career information update was also made to one of our most popular articles, "Match Your Personality with Careers." It shows hundreds of occupations by Holland personality type and Career Key work group.  Users of our paper-pencil Career Key career test often use this article to get online career information about matching careers and jobs that interest them.

Best features of the new OOH, in my opinion:

  • It's easier to read, with the most important information clearly up front in the summary. (Pay, Education, Job Outlook);
  • A Tab format for browsing with easy to understand labels like "What They Do" and "How to Become One";
  • More attractive, photo-heavy listing of "Similar Occupations,"
  • The content in "What They Do", "Work Environment," and "How to Become One" - the details are practical and helpful, truly giving a flavor of the work environment.
We have preferred the career information in the OOH to the O*NET for quite some time. There are some content differences and advantages to using both, which I explained in a June 2011 post:
Taking into account the new OOH look, my advice for exploring government career information is still the same: 
  • Start with the OOH for better detail and quality of information; the new OOH format just makes it a lot easier to explore and navigate. 
  • Use the O*NET (or America's CareerInfoNet) for links to more specific, local (state and metropolitan area) salary and education information.