II. Identifying Occupations
Now that you are better aware of yourself and your work related values, next you must use that information to help you identify different occupational possibilities, research those areas, set goals, and develop an action plan to achieve your goals.
Career exploration involves three general steps:
- Developing a list of possible occupations
- Researching occupations
- Goal setting and developing an action plan
A. Developing a List of Occupations
People use different strategies for identifying career possibilities. The Summary Worksheet Matrix listed in the Discover Yourself section indicates 23 career areas, also known as career clusters.
Occupations are grouped into large career clusters then subdivided into what are called job families. For example, 'legal services' is a career cluster. Within this cluster are job families (or types of legal services) including criminal, corporate and real estate.
Each job family has entry-level, skilled, technical, paraprofessional and professional occupations in what is sometimes referred to as a "career ladder."
Keep In Mind That...
- Your first choice may not be the right choice
- Giving up your first choice of a career is okay-- Generally the second or third career choice often proves to be more gratifying.
Writing Out Your list:
- On a separate sheet of paper, write down the career areas you identified on the Summary Worksheet Matrix. Eliminate any areas that you are truly not interested in exploring.
- Using the general occupational information and other library resources on the "Career Library Resource List" and "Occupational Research Grid" listed on the next pages, find information for each career area that lists related job titles (job families).
- For each career area, write down related jobs. Eliminate any jobs that you are sure you do not want to pursue. It's a good idea to also write down the reasons why you do not want to explore that occupation, to better examine your thoughts.
- Put check marks next to those occupations that sound the most interesting. For each, write down reasons why you think the occupation is interesting.
- From this list, select two to five of the most promising occupations that you want to research.
Career Library Resources List
General Occupational Information:
Careers in......... and Opportunities in......... Book Series
Computerized Career Guidance Programs, such as SIGI, FOCUS & EUREKA
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), U.S. Employment Service.
The Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance, J.G. Ferguson Pub.
Guide for Occupational Exploration (GOE), U.S. Department of Labor.
Labor Market Information/Trends:
American Almanac of Jobs and
Salaries, Avon Books.
American Salaries and Wages Survey, Gale Research.
Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Projections 2000, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Standard and Poor's Industry Surveys.
U.S. Industrial Outlook, U.S. Department of Commerce.
Professional And Trade Associations:
Encyclopedia of Associations, Gale Research.
Professional Careers Source book, Gale Research.
Graduate And Training Programs:
American Trade Schools Directory, Croner Publications.
Bricker's International Directory, Peterson's Guides (Exec. Programs).
College Blue Book: Occupational Education, Macmillan.
Directory of Public Vocational-Technical Schools, Macmillan.
Peterson's Annual Guides to Graduate Study, Peterson's Guides.
Peterson's Guide to Certificate Programs at American Colleges
Example of using JOB FAMILIES to identify related careers.
Suppose your target career choice is to become a pilot and you are blind. No matter how badly you want to become a pilot, you will never be able to make it a career.
However, don't just stop there. Write down a list of occupations in the aviation job family of the transportation career cluster, asking yourself if you are able to perform the job with or without reasonable accommodations.
Can I Be A:
air traffic controller? No
flight attendant? Probably not
airport ground equipment supervisor? Possibly
aircraft mechanic? Possibly
reservation agent? Yes
airport manager? Yes
aircraft company manager? Yes
aviation academy president? Yes
Look over those occupations marked "yes." If you can find an occupational match in
the group, you might still be able to pursue a career in aviation, if not as a pilot.
B. Researching Occupations:
By now you have a list of several promising occupations. The next step is to do more in-depth research about these fields.
Primary Research Methods:
- Library Research
- Information Interviews
- Job Shadowing
1. Library Research
Start with library research... Career information and resources can be found in any college or university career center or library, or at public libraries.
What information should I gather?
To assist with your library research, write the following information on separate paper. Keep the papers organized so you can refer to them when needed.
- Occupational Title
- Source of Information and Publishing Date
- Qualification Requirements (Degrees, Licenses, Physical Requirements)
- Responsibilities and Activities
- Work Environment (Type of Industry, Physical Surroundings, Degree of Privacy, Stress, etc.)
- Accessibility Factors (Typical Locations, Physical Settings)
- Rewards and Benefits (Salary, Perks, Advancement, Learning Opportunities, Satisfactions)
- Negatives or Disadvantages
- Employment Outlook
- Related Occupations
- Personal Insights and Reactions
2. Information Interviews
Information Interviews are your turn to meet with professionals in fields you find interesting. You get to ask the questions and get the first hand, real life information you need to make sound career decisions. By meeting with a professional in a specific field or industry, you will be able to:
- Learn about the advantages/disadvantages associated with the field.
- Experience the work environment of that field.
- Ask relevant questions about how to prepare for the field.
- Obtain suggestions on getting that first career level job.
A typical Information Interview will last approximately 30-40 minutes. Remember, this visit is for information only. It is NOT to be used as an employment interview. However, in order for you to receive full benefit from your visit, you are urged to prepare for it as you as you would an interview:
- Review all available materials related to the field.
- Prepare a list of relevant questions. (See "Sample Questions for Information Interviews.")
- Be prepared to discuss your interests and abilities as they relate to this field. Bring a resume if available.
- The day before your interview, confirm your appointment.
- Arrive and leave on time.
- Follow the visit with a brief Thank You note.
To identify professionals with whom to conduct informational interviews:
- Check with a counselor at your campus career center, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, or a private career counselor.
- Ask your teachers, professors, advisors, and classmates for referrals to appropriate people.
- Talk to people in your own personal and professional network for referrals.
- Use business directories found in most libraries or the yellow pages to locate employers that interest you.
Sample Questions For
- What educational background is most appropriate for this field?
- Is additional education‹beyond a bachelor's degree‹training or certification necessary for advancement?
- Are there special skills‹computer programming, report writing, graphics, etc.‹which would be helpful in this field?
- Are there internships, summer or part-time employment opportunities that would be useful in preparing for this field?
- How did you become involved in this field?
- What are your responsibilities on the job?
- What are your biggest challenges on the job?
- What do you most enjoy about your work?
- What do you least enjoy about your work?
- What are the typical day's activities?
- What is the typical working environment in this field?
- What are your co-workers like?
- What personal qualities are necessary to succeed in this field?
- What is the current salary range in this profession?
- Entry level through executive level?
- Are there "fringe benefits" associated with this type of work?
- What are the moral or ethical considerations of this profession?
- What are the advantages or disadvantages for people with disabilities &/or minorities entering this field?
- What are the usual entry level positions in this field?
- Describe the typical career path for this profession?
- Are there requirements for travel or relocation, do they change?
- What are the opportunities for advancement?
- Describe the training programs commonly used by employers?
- What opportunities are there for professional development?
- What significant problems does the profession face?
- What trends do you see taking place in this profession?
Keep an Information Interview Record for each informational interview!! Before, during and after the informational interview, write down the following information so you will be able to refer to it when necessary:
Remember to write down this information immediately after your meeting while it is still fresh in your mind.
- Date of Interview
- Name of Contact
- Contact's Title
- Company Name
- Company Address
- Phone Number/Fax Number
- Name of Secretary/Assistant
- Topics Discussed (Especially Occupational/Job Titles Suggested)
- Unique Information or Insights
- Additional Contact Leads (Name/Title/Company/Phone Number)
- Do you have permission to use this contacts' name when calling?
- Date Thank-You Note Sent
- Dates of Follow-up Contact
Follow up every interview by writing a thank you note.
Underneath is a sample "Thank You" note to help in drafting your own.
Sample Thank you Note
12345 Sixth Street
Hollywood, California 90028
February 30, 1995
Edward B. Contact
9876 First Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Dear Mr. Contact:
Thank you again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to you about ZinoCorp Incorporated and the field of accounting. I found our time together to be most informative! Now more than ever I am confident about my decision to work in this field.
I will keep you abreast of my studies, and as discussed, will contact you again closer to my graduation regarding potential job vacancies.
I truly appreciate your assistance.
Some sources say that it is best to hand write thank you notes, while others feel that all business correspondence should be typed. Obviously, there is some leeway in how you write and format your thank you note.
This format is similar to thank you notes sent after actual job interviews, however, in those situations, you should use the note to add any information you missed bringing up during the interview or to emphasize important information.
C. Goal-Setting And Plan Of Action
Implementing a career decision involves both long-term goals and short-term goals. Long-term goals are the occupation you have chosen, including perhaps your ultimate occupational goal. Short-term goals are the steps you must take to reach your long-term goal. These goals will have to be continually reevaluated and revised throughout your career.
Studies have shown that writing down goals and plans of action increases the likelihood that the goals will be achieved. The following format can be used for both long-term and short-term goals.
- Describe the goal in concrete terms.
- Requirements for reaching the goal (resources, skills, contacts, etc.).
- Develop a Plan of Action, putting necessary steps in order and including target deadlines (these steps may be the short-term goals needed to reach a long-term goal).
- Anticipate Obstacles and how to deal with them. Remember to remain flexible.
- Objective Criteria to measure achievement of goal.
- Anticipate Completion Date.
- Share your goal with others who may help and encourage you and hold you accountable to stay on task.
Plan Of Action Worksheet
1. Describe your goal in concrete terms:
2. Requirements for reaching the goal (resources, skills, contacts, etc.):
3. Develop a Plan of Action: Put necessary steps in order and include target deadlines (these steps may be the short-term goals needed to reach a long-term goal).
4. Anticipate Obstacles and how to deal with them. Obstacles:
5. Develop Objective Criteria to measure achievement of goal. For example: completing a training program or degree; making 3 new business contacts; setting up 2 interviews, etc.
6. Anticipate Completion Date(s):
7. Share your goal with others who may help and encourage you and hold you accountable to stay on task. People I will share with are:
Back to Contents