Most people have “tunnel vision” about career options. They are aware of only a small number of jobs–usually ones that family members or friends do, or ones they have seen portrayed on TV or in the movies. This limited awareness restricts career choices as you can only choose from career options of which you are aware of. The more career options that you are exposed to, the more you expand your awareness of options that could potentially fit you well.
Hundreds of job options exist. The sheer immensity of possibilities can be overwhelming. The good news is you don’t have to explore everything! Assessments like the Strong Interest Inventory, which can be taken with a certified career counselor, and the Career Fit Test, an online skill-based assessment can help focus your exploration. These two assessments use John Holland's theory of interest areas and the world of work, and provide you with your “Holland code,” which can help you narrow down to jobs that fit your skills, interests, and personality.
“Reality Testing” Job Options to Avoid Mistakes
Another purpose in researching career options is to “reality test” possible jobs, meaning that you get sufficient “real world” information about them so you can make an accurate assessment of how well they fit you. Most people begin “reality testing” their career choices the first day on the job! Once hired, they then begin looking at the job to see if they’ll like it and if it’s a good fit for them. Unfortunately, people often discover that the job is much different than they thought it would be and that it isn’t a very good fit. This realization could come after four (or more) years of education or after an expensive training program preparing them to get into a particular area of work.
Obviously, you want to do your “reality testing” well before you make career decisions or complete education in preparation for a particular career. No one can explore job options for you, because no one else can assess how interested you would be in a particular option. This step does require doing some detective work. But isn’t it worth spending time now as opposed to finding yourself in a job that doesn’t’ fit you well and may make you miserable?
The resources below can help you to explore job options and “reality test” the jobs that fit you best. They are very effective when combined with the use of professional career assessments.
Three Excellent Resource for Exploring Careers
The O*NET Online is described as “the nation's primary source of occupational information. Valid data is essential to understanding the rapidly changing nature of work and how it impacts the workforce and the U.S. economy. From this information, applications are developed to facilitate the development and maintenance of a skilled workforce. Central to the project is the O*NET database, containing hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors on almost 1,000 occupations covering the entire U.S. economy. The database, which is available to the public at no cost, is continually updated from input by a broad range of workers in each occupation.”
While the O*NET is a very helpful tool, the information provided can seem overwhelming. However, when combined with results from the Strong Interest Inventory or the Career Fit Test, you will have a Holland code that will help you to focus on the jobs that best fit you.
Approximately two-thirds of the jobs in the O*NET will include a link to the second recommended resource for exploration - the 2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Every two years the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is updated with the most recent information about jobs in the United States. While it is not as comprehensive as the O*NET Online, it provides information about jobs that are done by a high percentage of the US population and provides information that goes beyond descriptions in the O*NET Online. The OOH is described as "the nation's most widely used sources of career information. It provides details on hundreds of occupations and is used by career counselors, students, parents, teachers, jobseekers, career changers, education and training officials, and researchers.” The OOH is available online at http://www.bls.gov/ooh.
The OOH includes 329 occupational profiles covering 576 detailed occupations or about 83 percent of total employment. Each occupational profile describes:
- What workers do
- Where they work
- Typical education and training requirements
- Job outlook
- And much more
A detailed description of the information included in OOH profiles is available at www.bls.gov/ooh/about/occupational-information-included-in-the-ooh.htm.
A third resource, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, is the Career One Stop. The Career One Stop will help you to explore careers, training, and jobs. For those of you who are visual learners, CareerOneStop has hundreds of videos that will help you learn about different jobs. The videos are organized into 16 clusters, or related types of work.
Will these resources tell me what occupations would be best for me?
It is important to note that while these resources are very helpful, they do not provide specific career guidance or advice. As the OOH describes, what they do provide is “general information on the education and training typically needed to enter occupations.”
If you are not sure about which career areas would fit you best and/or feel overwhelmed with exploring careers, the career counseling and professional career assessments, including the Career Fit Test, that the ChristianCareerCenter.com offers can help you understand your God-given design, search careers that fit you well and choose occupations that will bring you joy as you meet needs in the world.
Most people have “tunnel vision” when it comes to understanding the jobs that could fit their God-given design. God calls us to be wise stewards of gifts or talents He has given us to manage. To understand the careers that would fit us best, we need to explore career options. By doing this in combination with career assessments, you greatly increase your chances of finding work you love which uses the gifts you have been given.
© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors, ChristianCareerCenter.com, ChurchJobsOnline.com, and ChristianJobFair.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.