Career Key

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

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.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holland’s Theory Promotes Innovation Skills

Taking advantage of Holland’s Theory of Career Choice in the form of a good person-work environment fit promotes skills needed for innovation.  These skills include collaboration and problem-solving, which top the list of 21st Century “in-demand” job skills in employer surveys. When people work with people of similar interests, abilities and values, collaboration and problem-solving are natural outcomes. 

I made the Holland Theory/Innovation connection while listening to innovation evangelist Tony Wagner’s keynote at this summer’s National Career Development Association conference. Here are three other ways applying Holland’s Theory to career choices promotes innovation:

1. Person-environment fit encourages curiosity.  Wagner says that “curiosity, which is a habit of asking good questions and a desire to understand more deeply,” is an “innovation skill.” A good person-environment fit encourages immersing oneself in a career field, especially in a job market rewarding specialization. Colleagues interact with others of similar interests, learning from one another and feeding off mutual enthusiasm and curiosity in a career field.

2.  Knowing one’s strongest personality types leads to healthy risk-taking and confidence in career decision-making. Knowing more about themselves gives people a platform from which to take risks and create innovation within a job. It also enables necessary job and career changes required in the new economy. If you know your compatible environments within the world of work, you can see more options to make better, more informed choices.

3. Learning about the six different personalities and work environments teaches people about the value of “differing gifts.” Understanding Holland’s Theory highlights the need to collaborate and network with people blessed with “differing gifts.” Wagner says collaboration is an integral part of innovation – especially across disciplines. For example, an architect who wants to promote her innovative designs would likely be more successful integrating advice and ideas from Enterprising and Conventional types to promote and sell her work.

For more on innovation, see Tony Wagner’s book, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Career Key Career Test Booklet Available

Career Key's popular career test is now available in a printed booklet form, the Career Key Test and Activities Booklet! Sets of 35 cost $75 (about $2 per booklet) and are available for sale on and in the American School Counselors Association bookstore.

This 20 page booklet includes Career Key's scientifically valid career interest inventory as well as activities covering career development's most important concepts, such as how to make a good decision. At the Career Key website, there is also a free PDF guide to using the Career Key Test and Activities Booklet to meet ASCA's National Model Student Standards.

Released with a new design and content in September 2013, it is full color and environmentally friendly, made with 100% recycled bright white paper and soy inks.

Free shipping and more sample pages are available at the booklet's product page on

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Career Key's Career Test Gets New Design and Update

The paper-pencil version of Career Key's popular, valid career interest inventory and career test has a beautiful new design and update.  Available in Career key's eBookstore, the self-scoring, paper-pencil Career Key career test helps youth and adults assess their personality and identify matching careers for satisfaction and success.

In addition to a professional graphic redesign, the test now includes advice for exploring matching college majors and education programs.  Research shows that a close personality major match leads to higher grades, greater persistence in the major, and higher on-time graduation rates.

Career Key's QR Code
The new test also includes a QR code so that test takers can use their smart phone or tablet to quickly access Career Key's online resources.  For example, in Match Your Personality with Careers, test takers can access all the test's occupations and links to current career information about each one from the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The test takes about 15-20 minutes and is self-scoring.  Licenses to print individual and group copies can be purchased in the eBookstore for the same great price of $4.95 (individual) and $12.50 (group - 25 copies).

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Career Key Website Design

If you haven't visited recently, please check out Career Key's new website design!  It's brighter, cleaner and with a new logo. A big thank you goes out to our new graphic design and IT gurus who made it happen: Barb Rowan Design and Circa Consulting.

At the same time, we revised and updated a number of our articles, including their URLs and content - in particular:

We are still committed to no advertising, 10% website sales donation to charity, and the best science and practices of career counseling. 

Please let us know what you think!  We have a new Connect with Career Key on Social Media page with all the ways to stay in touch with us. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Military to Civilian Transition: Making It a Success

If you are making a military to civilian career change or advise people who are, Career Key has published a new online guide to making it a success.

In it, Career Key author Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, NCC recommends five strategies for making the transition a success:

  1. Anticipate potential emotional and psychological challenges - make a Military to Civilian career plan to minimize the adjustment.
  2. Know yourself and your Military to Civilian Career Change- understand why you're leaving the military and what job satisfaction really means. 
  3. Know your options in a Military to Civilian Career Decision - and identify career options that fit you best. Our valid career assessment can help.
  4. Make a Good Decision using a science-based career decision-making method; and
  5. Prepare for Cultural Differences - learn how military and civilian employers differ.

According to recent studies, one of the biggest challenges to veterans is translating their military skills to the civilian work world.  In addition to several government sites that do an automated military to civilian skills translation, we recommend our job skills article:
Be Job and Work Skills Smart
It walks you through the process of identifying your skills, including ones you enjoy using most, and how to communicate them to employers. It includes a free, interactive "My Work Skills List" to fill out.

Other related articles that might interest you:
Choosing a Military Career
Career Change
Job Satisfaction

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Occupational Health Concerns: Realistic Work Safety Career Advice

Do you have occupational health or work safety concerns? Do you work in an unsafe workplace and wonder what to do about it? For this last post in our occupational health series, I’ll wear my employment lawyer* and career development facilitator hats.  Let’s look at your options with a realistic, practical eye.

Consider Your Options and Make a Good Decision
Start by using Career Key’s ACIP decision making process to resolve a work safety situation. You can download a free Decision Balance Sheet to complete.  The four steps will help you:
  1. Make a list of alternatives and options;
  2. Explore the consequences of each option;
  3. Get more information about each option, and
  4. Plan out how to follow through on your decision.

Options Might Include (likely more than one will apply):

A.  Trying to fix the unsafe situation yourself, if possible (and safe);
You work for a supervisor whose management style and actions are causing you a lot of stress, impacting your physical and mental health. Can you switch to a different boss and a different department within your employer, ideally before you get a negative performance evaluation? Don’t let a bad boss go on too long, otherwise the company won’t likely let you transfer.

B. Following a procedure in an employer’s employee handbook or policy guide for reporting an unsafe condition. There may be a “chain of command” you must follow. The question is whether this will help or hurt you.  Only you know the culture and personality of your workplace.

C. Finding another job first, then quit your current job. This means:
  • Saving money to support you during possible unemployment;
  • Networking as much as possible without jeopardizing your current job.
  • Applying to and interviewing for other jobs before you leave your current job.

D. Filing a complaint with a city, state or federal agency, like OHSA or the EEOC (if your stress is being caused by a manager illegally discriminating against you.)

E. Pay for a one-time consultation with a plaintiff’s employment lawyer to find out what your options are and what, if any actions, they recommend. It might be the best $200 (or less) you ever spent – especially if you end up keeping unemployment benefits you might have otherwise lost by checking the wrong box on a form. Consulting a lawyer doesn’t mean you’re committing to sue someone.

Let’s look at a realistic scenario:
Your supervisor requires you to record your work hours for driving a truck in a way that you know breaks the law and could cause driver error.  (There are strict federal rules about truck driving with limits on how many hours drivers can be on duty) There is a lot of pressure to get more loads delivered with fewer drivers, making it impossible to be honest about work hours. Your employee handbook says to report the legal violation and unsafe condition directly to the HR department.  You know that if you do, your supervisor will likely retaliate against you – perhaps through a bad performance evaluation or an excuse to fire you.  And HR will likely do nothing about it – your boss and the HR Manger go to lunch together all the time. What do you do?

A complicated decision…
There are a lot of factors to consider, like your finances, family support (of you) and obligations, the current level of personal danger/risk, and how easily you can find another job elsewhere.  Even if you are illegally fired in retaliation for complaining of a safety violation, you still need a job and income while you are pursuing any legal claim.  This is why you must try to make Option C, preparing to leave your job, a viable option.

Sometimes leaving an employer makes legal claims less valuable to lawyers, even though it likely makes you healthier.  The reality is that quitting a job can reduce the value of an employment claim and get your unemployment benefits denied if your safety complaint is not believed.  And to recover large amounts of money from an employer, there must be big damages – large amounts of lost wages and trips to the doctor for emotional distress.

However, waiting for a bad employer to fire or lay you off has serious consequences too – tolls on your physical and mental health and on your family. It’s also harder to find a job if you’ve been fired or laid off. Lawsuits take a long time and are a gamble – juries are not always sympathetic.

Give up?
But does that mean you should give up – leave and let a bad employer hurt other people?  No.  It just means that you might wait until you are safely in another job to file a complaint against your old employer with a government agency, which is required to investigate.  Know what you’re getting into and prepare accordingly.

So if you were that truck driver, you would likely file a complaint with your state’s department of transportation or highway patrol. They enforce truck driving regulations and will audit companies suspected of violating the law.  The best thing about filing with a government agency is that is it free, and forces the employer to respond to the investigating agency.  It may not be quick or net you a big money payoff, but they put the employer on the spot. Responding to a government agency takes time, money and effort.

I hope this post hasn’t been too discouraging.   These decisions are hard, with no easy conclusions.  I hope you don’t encounter an unhealthy work environment but if you do, you will be able to leave it if you want to.

*You knew there would be a legal disclaimer, right? This blog is not individual legal advice and is general in nature. State laws differ. If you need legal advice, please go consult a lawyer in your area.

For my first two posts in the series see:

After writing this post, I realized I wanted to say a lot more about self-preservation and being proactive in a volatile, unforgiving job market.  That will be up next....

Monday, April 29, 2013

Occupational Health and Career Options: How to Learn More

Some occupational hazards may be less obvious, like stress.

In choosing a career and comparing career options, don’t forget to include occupational health in your research along with salary, education, and job outlook. Stress, longer work hours, less job security, and a trend toward smaller employers make workplace safety and health more important than ever. This post lists top career information resources related to occupational health.

While some careers have obvious hazards (law enforcement, construction), other careers may be more hazardous than you realize. For example, chemical exposure is widespread from fire fighting, to cosmetology, to working as a scientist. Learning about workplace safety and health helps you make a more informed career decision. All jobs have hazards - it's just a matter of knowing what they are, assessing the risks and being prepared.

Part 2 of this occupational health blog series focuses on how people can find information about the safety and risks of different work environments. Try starting your research online and then follow up with occupational health-related questions during informational interviews.

When looking up a career in the OOH, make sure to click on the occupation's “Work Environment” tab.  Some occupations have a separate “injuries” description. Under “Contacts for More Information,” industry organizations are listed and may have occupational hazard information. If you are using the Career Key test to explore careers that match your interests and strongest Holland personality types, all its occupations link to and use the OOH for career information.

NIOSH is one of the best, most current online resources for occupational health.  There is a convenient list of Industries and Occupations, including special sections on Women and Young Worker Safety. Their most popular document is the free “Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards”, which they hope to offer in a mobile form soon. It helps people recognize and control occupational chemical hazards.

This blog is an excellent, up to date resource on a wide range of career fields like health care, nanotechnology, stress, green jobs, and sports and entertainment. The authors explain recent research in a layperson-friendly way.

OSHA’s website has a helpful list of web-based e-tools and articles on common hazards, like bloodborne pathogens (for careers in dentistry, healthcare, emergency medicine, and adult care), green jobs, and computer workstations.

Also look at OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics.  You can do a keyword search or choose an industry or topic from a drop down menu (the easiest). For example, in 2010, nursing homes and residential care facilities had one of the highest rates of lost workdays due to injuries and illness of all major American industries. (Source: BLS).  OSHA’s nursing homes article has a list of Hazards and Solutions, with links to OHSA’s industry specific resources.

State OSHA Programs
For a more local approach to workplace safety, some states have an OSHA approved program. Here is an OSHA Program list by state. You can also do a online search for [your state] OSHA.  I’ve found that some of these state sites (I did not visit all of them) are more employer and/or enforcement focused instead of education for individuals. But your state may offer something helpful.

Other online resources:
YouTube, for specific government agencies, like the U.S. Department of Labor that has an OSHA playlist.

Informational Interview Questions
When you conduct information interviews as part of researching your career options, don’t forget to ask about their experience with occupational hazards.  Some people may not realize certain aspects of their work environment are “occupational hazards,” like stress or work schedules. So make sure to ask questions like, “What do you like least about your job?” or “How busy is your work schedule?”

Up next in this series final post:
Practical although imperfect answers to these career questions:
What should I do if I am working in an unsafe work environment or career?
How can I be proactive in protecting myself at work?

If you missed the first post: Career Choices and Occupational Health
A special thank you to Sheryl Eldridge, BBA, GCDF and others who recommended resources to me for this blog on the National Career Development Association LinkedIn Group.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Career Choices and Occupational Health: Let’s Honor Workers Memorial Day

In talking about career choices, we rarely mention occupational health hazards; but we should.  This weekend, April 28, is national Workers Memorial Day, honoring the lives of 13 Americans a day who are killed on the job.  All kinds of occupations involve fatalities: cashiers, farmers, workers in grain silos, a college football team student intern, healthcare workers infected by bloodborne pathogens.  And there are social justice impacts too: Hispanics suffer from a higher rate of work-related injuries than any other group. 

This blog starts a career planning series on workplace safety and health, and how to realistically assess our own risks in career decisions and the importance of staying mobile in the job market – a free agent – so you can leave an unsafe work environment.  This is true whether you have a stressful office job or work on an Alaskan crab boat.

Ultimately it is up to you to decide on your work environment and the occupational health hazards you can handle – with the option to leave an employer that is not taking your safety seriously.

I hope occupational health issues will become more visible in the career planning and counseling process. It is important that people have informed choices and develop job skills to gain as much job market mobility as possible.

At least two tragic reminders of workplace safety’s importance have occurred in the last week, the deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion and just today, the factory collapse killing over 87 garment workers in Bangladesh. You might say, well, we have better standards in the U.S.

But do we really? Especially considering all the economic resources at our disposal? Failure of government enforcement (assisted by poor funding and special interest lobbies) and an insecure job market make a risky work environment. To give one example of poor performance, the ratio of OSHA inspectors has fallen over the past 30 years, with 2,200 inspectors for 8 million workplaces and 130 million workers.

While overall on the job fatalities in the U.S. have fallen since they were tracked starting in the early 1970s, there are still 13 people per day too many being killed and many more injured.  

My next post will focus on what individuals can do to find more occupation health information about a career option they are considering. In a later post, putting my employment lawyer hat on, I'll recommend realistic ways to deal with an unsafe working environment.

For more information:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries
Occupational Safety & Health Administration Common Statistics

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Create a Green Career for Earth Day

All of us can celebrate Earth Day through our work, even if we do not have what's considered a "green career."  Whether you are choosing a new career or happy in your current job, you can make Earth Day more meaningful and make positive contributions to the environment at work.

Match Your Personality with Green Careers
Career Key has a great article on Green Careers that explains the role of careers in the green economy.  It includes lists of green jobs by the six Holland personality types (or Holland Codes) and Career Key work group. These lists match the results of Career Key's valid career test that measures these types and shows lists of matching occupations linked to helpful career information about each one.

Not Your Typical "Green Career"
But the Green Careers article also talks about ways we can contribute to environmental causes through careers not typically associated with being "green," like religious leaders and teachers.  Pope Francis recently declared protecting the environment as a focus in his new papacy.  Teachers can educate students in many ways about the environment that are relevant to their subject.

Being Greener in the Workplace
You know your workplace best.  Are there ways to decrease your carbon footprint that are not being used? Are there lessons learned or experiences from other similar employers that you could adopt?  Some may cost additional money but some may not. You'll never know unless you ask.

Another way to contribute is to join or start an environmental committee or program within a professional association. Be creative in coming up with a project or program that's relevant to your job.  Sometimes, as long as you volunteer to do the research and startup work, people are willing to follow your lead.

There are different views about climate change and people differ on how much they are willing to participate in environment-related efforts. But even making people aware of a more environmentally-friendly way to do something or serving as a (not too preachy) example can help.

What Career Key is Doing
For many years, Career Key has donated 10% of its website sales to charity. The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund are two main beneficiaries because Career Key's author, Dr. Lawrence K. Jones and his wife Jeanine are interested in protecting nature and the environment.  Our server also runs on green, renewable energy.

To put a final, personal touch on this post, Dr. Jones emailed me last week to ask if I had signed up yet for Seattle City Light's Green Power Program. The Program allows customers to "Green Up" their electricity bill using Renewable Energy Credits. (like wind - we don't do much solar here in the Pacific NW for obvious reasons!) So I did - and soon this computer I'm using to write this blog will be 100% powered by wind or similar renewable resources.  There's nothing like pressure from your boss (and your father) to be green!

But I'm not perfect, like everyone else. Occasionally I use plastic sandwich bags for my son's lunch and no doubt other green faux pas I'm not even aware of.  But I make efforts to be environmentally conscious both at work and home, and that's good enough for me.

What do you do at work to be green - or to make your career green?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Work Skills List Helps with Job Search and Career Choices

Putting yourself in the driver's seat with work skills....
Career Key's new "My Work Skills List" helps people with a job search, choosing a career, career change, and keeping up to date with a current career path.

This new, free, fill-in PDF is part of 7 Ways to Be Job and Work Skills Smart,  one of Career Key's most popular self-help articles on identifying skills.

When you fill out the list, you'll identify Foundation Skills you have and those you need to strengthen. You'll also learn about Motivated Skills and Dependable Strengths, those skills you enjoy using most and want to do more of in future jobs, career choices, and in your personal life.

The "fill in" capability of the form allows you to copy and paste lists of skills you find using the O*NET Code Connector. Just follow the directions in the "Make My Skills List" section of the article.

You'll be surprised at the quick payoff from doing this list, and the other activities recommended in 7 Ways to Be Job and Work Skills Smart.

Strengthening job skills is a critical part of our Free Agent Outlook on Work - putting you in the driver's seat, in control of your work life.  I know this is a less warm and fuzzy view of employers and the world of work, but we tend to be more realistic and entrepreneurial towards work and careers. Career Key author Dr. Jones's personal story shows why.  Voting with your feet, if at all possible, is a great option to have when working for someone else. In demand job skills make that possible.

Click on My Work Skills List to download the PDF directly.

Finally, we intend to release a new, related eBook on job skills later this year - so stay tuned or leave a comment that you want to be emailed when it comes out.

PRWeb has the latest press release about our new job and work skills article and My Work Skills List.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Can Make Your Career a Success

Larry and Jeanine, Naples, 1963

Falling in love with the right person can make your career and life a success.  Take my parents for example: Dr. Lawrence K. Jones (Larry), Career Key’s author and his wife Jeanine Wehr Jones.  In his words, Jeanine played a major role in his career, encouraging him to go to graduate school.  That decision led him to becoming a school counselor and then a professor in counseling education.

So Happy Valentines Day from Career Key!

If Larry hadn’t met Jeanine on the way to Turkey in 1963, Career Key probably wouldn’t be here.

"My Story," by Dr. Jones
Career Key's Mission
Our Free Agent Outlook on Work is greatly influenced by our belief in having a strong support system of family and friends to help us through the inevitable ups and downs of our work lives.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Make Liberal Arts A Successful College Major Choice

Forget the war on liberal arts! Liberal arts majors can make successful college majors. Follow the basic rules of a good career decision and plan ahead with these 10 actions:
  1.  Know what liberal arts majors are, their benefits and challenges;  
  2. Learn how you can benefit from Holland’s Theory, Holland’s college major environments, and the value of a close personality-major match. [Research shows it leads to success in college and greater career satisfaction];
  3. Get a better sense of yourself, your interests and goals by doing the activities we recommend in “How to choose a career”;
  4. Be job skills smart by filling in any gaps in your Foundation Skills during college;
  5. Crossover to lesser known fields to develop skills and knowledge from business, finance, computer proficiency, and statistics.  You can do that through volunteer work, coursework, and internships.  No excuses anymore – MOOCs make it possible to take free classes on your own time without the penalty of poor grades on your transcript;
  6. Combine an arts and humanities major with another more technical, career-oriented major that interests you in a growth industry like healthcare or information technology;
  7. Use LinkedIn Alumni to help broaden your knowledge about what graduates with liberal arts majors are doing with their degree. I guarantee you'll get some ideas;
  8. Decide on whether to go to graduate school with particular career goals in mind, based on real research based on informational interviews with current grad students and grad school grads, not hearsay.
  9. Begin networking as soon as possible. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to “be someone” to network. It is also not limited to job search – in fact, it’s better to network before you need a job. Bonus: you’ll simultaneously strengthen Foundation Skills.
  10. Make sure you are taking advantage of all the career services and academic advising resources your college or university offers.  I see a few complaints about what schools don’t do to help graduates. But the reality is, many students don’t take advantage of available services, they let one dissatisfying experience stop their momentum, OR they don’t take the initiative. These things all happened to me at one time or another – but I didn’t let them stop me. Don’t let them stop you either.

You might also find helpful:
Download this PDF to see popular myths about liberal arts majors debunked, courtesy of Seattle Pacific University’s Career Center. It’s great advice.
Graduate School in the Humanities: Just don’t go, the Chronicle
"Not all College Degrees are Created Equal", PDF report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce
Top-Paying Liberal Arts Majors in 2012, National Association of Colleges and Employers

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Using LinkedIn Alumni to Explore Careers and Majors

If you want to make a career change,  choose a career, or choose a majorLinkedIn Alumni is a helpful addition to other career information resources that opens your mind to career and education options.

Because LinkedIn Alumni is organized around schools and studies instead of occupations, it’s really best used as a turbo-charged “what can I do with a major in” career exploration tool. And despite the word “Alumni,” anyone can use it, college graduate or not.

Getting Started: First, click on LinkedIn Alumni and choose a college or university.  You don’t have to be a school’s graduate or current student to see information about its graduates. It could be a school you’re interested in attending, a big university near you, or a school you attended.

So although I didn’t graduate from North Carolina State University, I can still see what their graduates studied or majored in, their skills, the types of work they do, and where they work. I just uploaded a related video, "Explore Careers Using LinkedIn Alumni", on thecareerkey YouTube channel:

1. Look at the types of jobs listed for a field of study, exploring those that interest you.
After you’ve chosen a school, click on “what [graduates] studied” in the 4th column over.  You’ll see the graph adjust and narrow to graduates of that field.  I chose “Social Sciences”.  Notice that the study choices can be broad (like social sciences, which includes economics and sociology) or specific, like chemical engineering.

You can also start by narrowing results based on the type of job first, called “What they do”, and then field of study. If you’re already focused on careers in education, then start there.

2. Notice the types of skills most listed by graduates in a field of study.
When you choose a field of study, notice the column next to it “What they’re skilled at.” Take a note of skills you have on that list and those you don’t; this will give you ideas for ones to focus on and strengthen. (Our “Identify Your Skills” articles will also help you in that process).

3. After choosing categories of “What they do” and “What they studied,” look at individual job titles and profiles by clicking “3rd connections + Everyone Else” in the “How you are connected” column.

Scroll down to see the people listed. Are there any job titles that surprise you? Interest you? Consider these people as possible sources for information interviews.  Even if the person lives far away or there is no realistic way to make a connection to them, you might search locally for someone similar, working in a similar type of job.

To avoid getting overwhelmed by information, you’ll need to tailor your search to what interests you most. For example, you could get indicators of job outlook in certain geographic areas (where they live) and the most popular employers (where they work).  The best thing is to just dive in and look around.

Note: I found LinkedIn’s “Skills & Expertise” tool (under the “More” tab of the top navigation menu) to be less informative – the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET Code Connector has much more accurate, detailed information about skills careers require.  And LinkedIn takes its career descriptions from Wikipedia, not my first choice for career information.

For an overview of LinkedIn Alumni and the different ways it can be used, visit the excellent LinkedIn Blog post “Start Mapping Your Career with LinkedIn Alumni.”  I’m sure this is only the beginning of uses for this tool. Do you have other suggestions for using LinkedIn Alumni for researching careers? Please leave a comment.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Canadian University Majors: How to Learn More

If you want to learn more about college and university majors in Canada and the schools that offer them, try these online resources. You'll learn what information is best at each website and watch a video tutorial on how to use Working in Canada as an education exploration tool.

Best for:
  • Narrowing your education choices based on your interests
  • Help making a decision

Our website focuses on how to choose what to study in Canada, whether it is at a college or university.  Start with:
  1. Personality-major match, and why it’s important (leads to better grades, e.g.); then
  2. How to choose a major in Canada; and
  3. 4 steps of high quality decision making.

Depending on your interests, read articles like the pros and cons of liberal arts majors and how to learn more about yourself.

Best for:
  • Finding majors related to an occupation
  • A description of majors and “what graduates think” of them
  • Narrowing schools offering a major to a specific province or location

If you’ve taken Career Key Canada’s career assessment, then you already have a list of Canadian occupations that match your Holland personality types, each one linked to its Working in Canada listing. You can also browse and choose careers at our “Match Your Personality with Careers” article.

When you do an occupation search on Working in Canada (WIC) for audiologist (for example), it has a link to “Education & Job Requirements” with excellent information on who offers programs and sources of helpful information (like the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists and its section on “Professions.”)

In our new Canadian playlist, this 2 minute video shows you how to use Working in Canada for education exploration on thecareerkey’s YouTube Channel:

WIC does have an educational program search but I found it doesn’t work well on its own for finding a program. Searching that way for “audiology” brings up 0 results. I believe that is because the word “audiology” is not listed in a program title – so you have to have an exact program name keyword match for this work.

Best for:
  • Finding Canadian schools that offer a major or program
  • Financial aid information, scholarships

The key to using CanLearn’s program search is to make sure your search terms for a major are broad, choosing a search type of “All Words” and “All Program Information” in advanced search.  The default advanced search is for “Program Names Only” so you’ll likely want to change that, especially if your first search is unsuccessful.

I would recommend using both websites in your research because they offer different information. Make sure to follow their links to professional organizations because sometimes those websites are more up to date and informative.  

Have suggestions for other high-quality online resources for learning more about education options in Canada? Please leave them in the comments. (no spam please!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Best Online Resources for Learning about College Majors in the U.S.

For students who want to learn about college majors and training programs, we’ve chosen the best online resources with advice on how to use them. Each site has certain advantages depending on what kind of information you are looking for.

Start by narrowing your college majors choices to those that match your Holland personality types. If you make a close personality-major match, studies show you're more likely to succeed in college.  Career Key’s articles help you get started, including these:
Once you've narrowed your options, you'll want to learn more about each one as part of a good, 4 step decision making process. These websites can help:
BigFuture by the CollegeBoard
Best for:
  • Descriptions of a major
How to use it:
Look at audiology as an example.  There’s an easy to read description of the major, questions to ask yourself that are related to that major, lists of helpful high school courses, and typical courses offered in the major.  

Best for:
  • “How to Become One” [a career choice],
  • Easy to read and understand education and training information for people with specific careers in mind.
How to use it:
  •  At their home page, enter an occupation in the top “Search Handbook” box:
  • Click on the occupation you want.
  • Click on the tab, “How to Become One.” Also click on the tab “Contacts for More Info.” You’ll find links to national organizations that often guide you to more local education sources.
  • If you're using the Career Key test, click on the jobs you chose to learn more about to see the Handbook's listing for an occupation.
Education +Training Finder at
Best for:
  • Finding local education and training options;
  • Finding local education, training, and licensing required for a specific occupation.
How to use it:
  • At the Education and Training Finder page, search for an occupation from the “Occupation Profile,” choose your state, and your statewide information will be pulled up;
  • Scroll down to Education and Training and you’ll see the types of majors or “instructional programs” related to the career. 
  • Go further and you’ll see a link under the “Educational Attainment” box for “colleges, training schools, and instructional programs for this occupation.” Click on it and a list of statewide schools offering the major will be shown. Any links to apprenticeships and training programs will also be shown.
U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator
Best for:
  • Finding a college that offers a particular major or training program;  
College Navigator is an unbiased resource, where no one pays to be listed or promoted.  Watch our short YouTube video on how to use the College Navigator.

Soon, I’ll follow up with a similar post on researching majors and programs in Canada for our Canadian audience.