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Plan Your Next Career Move – Online with O*Net!

It is not difficult to find career guidance online. In fact, there is so much available, it can be hard to decide what to use. The U. S. Department of Labor's Education and Training Administration is leading the way with a system of websites called O*Net.The O*Net home page states their mission very clearly: "There are a lot of jobs in the world of work. Our job is helping you learn about them all."

The various O*Net sites are interconnected and serve as a set of free, comprehensive, career exploration resources for both students and career services professionals. O*Net tools and resources are currently used by a wide range of organizations, including higher education institutions. The O*Net Academy site highlights current use at Minnesota State University and Three Rivers Community College.

This post reviews two O*Net tools that may be the most helpful to you as an online student exploring career options.

1) My Next Move

Launched in February 2011, My Next Move is still relatively new! This online interactive tool is designed to assess your interests, as they relate to the working world, and match them to specific occupations you may want to consider pursuing. The system also links these occupations to Job Zones, levels of preparedness, to give you an idea of how much education and experience would be required.

When you first access My Next Move you will choose to enter the system in one of three ways:

  1. I want to be a… (where you will enter a keyword or job title),
  2. I'll know it when I see it (that asks you to choose from a list of general career categories), and
  3. I'm not sure… (where you will encounter the Interest Profiler).

Interest Profiler – If you are not sure, the My Next Move Interest Profiler is a great place to start. You'll begin by rating 60 work activities based solely on your interest in performing the tasks (experience and education come later). After completing the items your interests will be categorized using six career types:

  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional

These six types are often referred to with the acronym RIASEC and as Holland Code, after the psychologist John Holland who matched these six personality types to occupational descriptions. The occupations cataloged in the O*Net database are organized with these codes. In fact, Holland Codes are widely used to assess career interest. The Student Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is another instrument that uses the RIASEC codes to help students explore military career fields.

Job Zones – As you proceed with My Next Move you will review job zones. These zones describe five different levels of experience and education or training that may be required for any given occupation. The job zones also indicate how prepared you need to be to enter an occupation. You can choose from the various levels to compare the occupations with your current level of experience and education and with the level you plan to reach in the future after completing your online education.

Occupation ProfilesMy Next Move also provides you with a short list of occupations that match your interest codes and job zones. Each occupation in the O*Net database includes the following information to help you further assess whether or not it is one you want to continue to research.

  • Brief job description and typical work tasks
  • Lists of key knowledge areas, related skills, and abilities
  • Personality characteristics of people who perform the job
  • Technology skills related to the job, including specific software applications
  • Education and training required
  • Outlook for future growth of this career and typical salary levels
  • List of related occupations and links to those profiles

Several new descriptors have been added to the profiles – you can see quickly which occupations have a "Bright Outlook" for hiring growth in the future, are part of the "Green" economy, or have registered apprenticeship programs. 

2) O*Net Online 

If you already have a few ideas about careers you are interested in, O*Net Online provides a host of resources to help you with your research. On this site you can browse the O*Net database of occupations by keyword using the Occupation Search tool. You can also search for careers by category, such as Green Economy or Job Zone, using the Find Occupations tool.

Similar to My Next Move, O*Net Online provides detailed information for each occupational title including job descriptions, tasks, education and training, and outlook and salary data. These descriptions are further expanded to include information about the expected workplace environment as well as work styles and work values typical of individuals already working in the occupations.


Revisit and Review with Your Counselor

Give it a try! Take a few minutes to complete the My Next Move Interest Profiler or search for a job title on O*Net Online.

  • What are your interest codes?
  • What is your current job zone?
  • Are any of your fields of interest considered to be "Bright Outlook" fields?
  • Explore the occupational titles related to your search for more information.

The O*Net database is continuously reviewed and revised. Each year occupations are updated with additional information to keep the resources current. You may also want to discuss the O*Net resources, and your findings, with a career counselor at your institution. You career counselor will be able to help you further explore your occupations of interest and extend your research with additional tools and assessments. Plan your next move!