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The Riley Guide

The Riley Guide: Before You Search

Explore Career Options

If you're feeling ready to launch a new career, but aren't sure where to start - or you just want to get more information on the salaries and types of work you can expect in certain fields - the Internet is full of informational resources that can get you the info you're looking for. A great place to start is The Riley Guide's Career Research Center, which includes job descriptions, salary data and employment statistics, and education information for more than 160 occupations. But if you'd like to explore more libraries across the web, read on to find out about some of the most useful and informative ones.

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Career & Occupational Guides

Some of the handiest guides on the web are databases of career outlooks. These often include details about what salary range you can expect in a given profession, along with employment statistics for various geographical areas,ad even projections for the growth (or decline) of the field over the next ten years or so. Some of these websites pull their data from their own private research studies, and they may charge you a fee to access the details. Others, meanwhile, simply gather public-domain data, and may even share their sources freely.

Resources From the Federal Government

The U.S. government provides a wide variety of career outlook resources. CareerOneStop.org serves as a gateway to all of the job and career tools provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. CareerOneStop serves to unite America's Career InfoNet, America's Job Bank, and America's Service Locator into a single source. MySkillsMyFuture.org is intended to help you find a new career based on jobs you have held in the past using the idea of transferable skills. MyNextMove.org is an interactive tool where job seekers and students can learn more about their career options. The site has tasks, skills, salary information, and more for over 900 different careers.

The U.S. government provides a wide variety of career outlook resources...

ACINet.org is a source of information on hundreds of occupations, and can help you identify transferable skills used by many occupations, what industries employ persons in these occupations, and what compensation you can expect. Head right to the Wages and Trends section for the fastest access to the occupational info. Select a menu item there, or use the Keyword search to target potential occupations- these reports will link you to all the relevant information for these occupations, including tasks, skills, industry trends, and job listings through America's Job Bank.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Services (BLS.gov)lists a wealth of career information for a wide range of occupations, including a brief review of working conditions, required training and education needed, earnings and expected job prospects. The BLS also publiches Occupational Outlook Quarterly, a magazine that covers topics like new and emerging occupations, training opportunities, salary trends, and results of new BLS studies.

And ONetOnline.org is a database of occupational information, which includes information on skills, abilities, work activities, and interests associated with more than 950 occupations. You can browse occupations by career cluster, industry, job family, job zone (level of education usually required), or other current interests - or search for possible careers by skills or tools and technology needed. Most of this data comes from the main BLS site, but ONet gathers it all in one easy-to-search place.

Other Sources of Information

Lots of independent sites provide similar types of info to that offered by the U.S. government - but they may have gathered it via their own methods, and they present it in their own ways. CareerCast's JobsRated Report is one good example of how unique these resources can be. The Report uses detailed analysis to measure careers by factors such as working conditions, competitiveness, hiring outlook and physical exertion, giving each a score and ranking.

Lots of independent sites also provide detailed career outlook info...

TheCareerProject.org, meanwhile, is a database of thousands of career profiles in hundreds of professions - filled with insights provided by people who actually work in those professions. Each worker fills out the same questionnaire with information on his or her current job, how he or she got there, what he or she does on a day-to-day basis, and how he or she likes it. You get to see each person's job title, age, and gender. And the database includes snapshots of jobs you will not find in other locations, like actual military personnel and court clerks.

JobStar.org includes articles on career information, links to resources, and lists of books to check for in your local public library. OneDayOneJob.com regularly posts new articles about working for particular employers. UniXL.com is an education and career portal targeted to students and the general public - each subject on the site introduces you to many possible career fields. KHake.com is a huge education directory that provides links to online resources for career exploration, technical education, work opportunities, trade and technical schools and related vocational learning resources.

Some career websites are specific to certain geographical areas. Virginia Career VIEW, for example, is designed to assist you with your career and educational choices - primarily in Virginia, though the site includes links to resources throughout the U.S. California CareerZone and New York CareerZone allow you to browse occupational outlooks in their respective states and plan your career from the education on up. LearnMoreIndiana.org provides education, financial aid, and career information for residents of Indiana, as well as non-residents. And CareerOptionsMagazine.com is a biannual publication focusing on career outlooks in Canada. You can easily track down similar information for your own area simply by Googling terms like "[name of your state] + career information."

What to Do with a Major In...

What can you do if you've finished - or about to finish - your education, but aren't sure where to go from here? How do you select a career? What if you already know what you want to do, but need to find out how to accomplish this dream? The sites in this section all provide tools to help you find the answers to these questions. They're designed to help you find connections between topics you've studied, skills you've learned and jobs that might interest you.

How do you select a career? These sites are designed to help answer that question...

BigFuture.CollegeBoard.org includes descriptions of hundreds of occupations - including training and education requirements and salary expectations - and a career questionnaire that can help you narrow your choices to careers you'd enjoy. CollegeMajors101.com discusses various college majors, then links you to related information like schools, student associations you might want to join, publications in each field, and - perhaps most helpfully of all - employers who hire graduates in that field.

The University of Delaware's Career Resource Center provides a collection of Major Resource Kits, each of which includes information such as entry-level job titles that previous University of Delaware graduates in that program have attained, brief job descriptions, major employers for that field, and listings of materials for conducting a job search. And Kansas State University's Academic and Career Information Center offers a nice list of professional and trade associations and links to occupational descriptions for this field. They also list similar sites from other colleges and universities, and job and career information online.

Choosing a Career Path

Choosing a job you'd enjoy and planning a career path can be two very different things. Career planning involves a long-term concept of what you'd like to be doing five, ten or even twenty years from now; and at least some idea of how to get there. The good news is that plenty of websites exist to help you formulate your career plan and put it into action. Here are some of the most helpful.

Choosing a job you'd enjoy and planning a career path can be two very different things...

The University of Manitoba provides an extensive list of career-planing resources for popular career paths. iSeek.org Careers uses labor market information (LMI) they've collected to help you find some of the faster growing careers available today, and to help you discover your own interests and develop the skills you need to be competitive. And although MyFuture.edu.au was developed for Australian workers, the site contains info that's useful for people all over the world. It allows you to create your own career plan and get help in determining your career direction, via a series of articles and activities that guide you through career exploration and planning processes.

Changing Careers

Maybe you've already established yourself in a certain career, but know there must be a better option for you somewhere out there. A career-change guide might be just the resource you need to get started on your new path. A major aspect of any change like this is a reevaluation of your own career desires, and an analysis of how to put those changing desires to work in your favor. Thus, many career-change guides focus on helping you better understand yourself.

A career-change guide can help you transition out of an unfulfilling career...

Keri Coffman-Thiede of Amaze Yourself Coaching has written a great article called Finding the Work You Love (PDF). It covers how to go about figuring out what you want to do with your life, and how to translate those desires into your dream job. GuidetoYourCareer.com is another handy resource - the site offers information and guidance for career changers. Yes, the author makes a lot of references to his book (which he hopes you'll buy) - but even so, his guide will get you thinking about a possible change, and how to determine which way to go once you're ready to make that change happen.

Planning & Managing Your Career

What's the difference between choosing a career path and planning & managing your career? Choosing a career path is usually for younger persons or persons who are really considering a major shift away from what they have done in the past. Planning & managing your career, on the other hand, means making choices along the way, deciding if it's better to step sideways from one industry to another while still doing the same work, deciding if you want to move up and learning how to accomplish this, and so on. It may involve choosing a career path, but it's also choosing the path you personally want to follow as your skills and desires evolve over the years. And a number of websites are designed to help you with exactly this process.

Choosing a career path isn't the same thing as planning & managing your career...

TimesUnion.com's Careers and Worklife Blog provides a collection of blog articles from several different authors, all contributing to this site's active discussion of careers and employment issues. USNews.com Careers is another good resource for all kinds of career information and employment news, and its editor takes a real no-nonsense approach in his analysis of career fields.

Career-Intelligence.com, meanwhile, doesn't only focus on searching for jobs - it looks at your entire career and the choices you may make along the way, from job changes to entrepreneurship to your personal life. While this website is very focused on women, men will find that a lot of its advice also applies to them. The site is divided into channels covering the main topic areas: Assessment, Transition, Management, Small Business Services, and Tools - and it offers you the ability to take a variety of interest inventories and assessment tools, some of which are free and some which charge a fee.

Helpful links

CareerOneStop.org -- Huge searchable collection of career statistics and other data for a wide variety of fields.

Major Resource Kits from the University of Delaware -- Tools to help you turn your particular kind of undergraduate degree into a job that interests you.

Career-Intelligence.com -- Loads of articles on planning your career, starting your own business, balancing work and personal life, and more.