by Lisa McGrimmon
One very good career research tool is the American O*Net, which you can access for free online. O*Net can be used to gather information about your current career and your transferable skills, and it can be used effectively to understand other job opportunities that you may be qualified to pursue.
To use O*Net to explore career alternatives that are different from, but related to your existing career, begin by first looking up your current job title.
Career Research on O*Net
Type your job title into the space at the top right beside "Occupation Quick Search" and choose the most appropriate option from the search results.
Once you find your job title, you'll see that your job has a number associated with it. For example, if you looked up business systems analyst on O*Net, you'll find several results. You may decide that computer systems analyst best fits your current job description, and you'll notice that this job is coded with the number 15-1051.00. That number is called a SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) code, and you can use it to discover related, but different jobs.
Jobs are divided on O*Net based on SOC code, which is a standard classification system that groups all jobs into major groups by industry. You can see all of the groups here. When you're looking for related jobs, the number before the dash is the one you want to focus on. So if you were a computer systems analyst, the SOC code for your job would be 15-1051.00, and the number 15 would be important to note.
Once you know the SOC code that corresponds with your job title, go to the list of SOC major groups and find and click on the group that corresponds with your field of work. For example, if you were a computer systems analyst, you would click on 15-0000 Computer and Mathematical Occupations. This will take you to a list of several related jobs in your field. From there, simply click on any job title that interests you in order to learn more about each job.
If you were a computer systems analyst who had decided that you no longer wanted to work in a computer related occupation, you could look beyond the careers listed under 15-0000 Computer and Mathematical Occupations. In that case, you would simply review the list of SOC major groups to find another major group that was of interest and matched your other skill sets and explore the options within those groups.
For example, if were a computer systems analyst and you completed a thorough transferable skills analysis you would discover other groups of skills beyond those technical skills that could be applied to different jobs. If you discovered that in addition to your technical skills, you also had a strong background and interest in education, it would be worthwhile to explore the careers listed under 25-0000 Education, Training, and Library Occupations.
O*Net is a very useful tool for conducting career research. It may seem a bit daunting at first to put this amount of time and energy into conducting career research, but when you consider the amount of time you spend at work (2000 hours a year if your work a 40 hour week and take two weeks' vacation) and the huge impact your career has on all other aspects of your life, you'll see that it's well worth the time it takes to conduct good career research and make smart career decisions.