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Research for Your Career Change

By Randi Bussin

In other articles on Job Hunt, I have discussed the importance of self-reflection in the early stages of a career reinvention. A period of self-reflection, followed by a career brainstorming, can help you get clear on potential career paths for further exploration.

So, when you have a list of potential careers you would like to explore, how do you find information about these fields? This article addresses five key sources for online career research.

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5 Key Online Research Resources

1. Government Resources

There are two very good resources for gathering information.

The first is the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), which can be found at:

Type in the field or job function you want to research into the search box, and explore the information that comes up.

For example, I typed in Advertising Manager, and what came back was a wealth of information on advertising, marketing PR, and promotions. The OOH will provide information for you on:

  • The nature of the work
  • Training and other qualifications required
  • Employment trends
  • Job outlook
  • Earnings and wages
  • Related occupations (NOTE: This can be very helpful. If you read the description of the field you researched and find it is not that interesting, this will allow you to explore other options that might be more appealing to you.)

A second useful resource is O*NET, which was developed under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor. The link to researching occupations is:

Searching in this database is similar to the OOH. Type the career or job title in the box located in the upper left-hand corner (Advertising), and see what results come back. In this case, O*NET offers similar data to the OOH, but does delve further in certain areas. It provides additional information on:

  • Tools and technology
  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Abilities
  • Work styles and work values

2. Professional Association Websites

Let's say you were interested in the field of Fundraising. You could go the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) website and look in the following areas to find information on this field:

  • Association Bookstore
  • Association Resource Center
  • Association Publications Page

If you need more options, Google "association of X professionals," where X is the career field you are trying to research.

3. Commercial Career Intelligence Data

If you can afford it, two companies, Wetfeet and Vault provide a wealth of information on careers and industries. Look for the navigation on their websites that indicate Career Guides. Then, browse the different guides they have by industry.

For some fields, they have a guide that presents an overview of the profession and the different career options within the profession, as well as a guide listing the top employers within the field.

4. Google Search

If we continue with the advertising example, a simple Google search brings up some sites and resources not listed above. Oftentimes, a specific website is available with career information related to just that industry. For example, Googling careers in advertising brings up a useful site called Careers in Marketing.

[See Job-Hunt's Guide to Using Google for help understanding how to leverage all of Google's talents.]

5. Professional Publications

Sometimes professional magazines and newspapers do interviews of seasoned professionals in a particular field, providing information for newcomers seeking to enter the field. By searching through the publication's archives, you might find some useful information. In the case of advertising, looking at Advertising Age, might be a useful way to spend some time.

Bottom Line

These are just some useful sources you can access for to research a career from your desktop. If you find that you can not find the information you need, do not hesitate to go to your local library and discuss your needs with a reference librarian. Librarians often have access to proprietary resources not available to the general public.

About the author...

Job-Hunt's Career Change Expert, Randi Bussin, founder and president of Aspire!, is a career coach and counselor with more than 25 years of business, entrepreneurial, and career counseling experience, including DISC assessments. Randi has experienced several major career transitions (from corporate to small business owner to career counselor to coach) and personally understands the effort and commitment involved. She has appeared on public television's "Job Doctor," and is a frequent contributor to Bridgestar's Leadership Matters newsletter, The Ladders job-search Web site ( and her own blog, which offers advice on career transition, job search, and labor market trends. Follow Randi on Twitter @Aspire4Success.

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