Job Information: What’s Out There?

Job information is plentiful. However, it can also be overwhelming. So how do you find out about what kinds of careers are out there?

I have two pieces of advice. First, move from general to more specific sources of career information. Second, move from reading to talking with people. That way you don’t embarrass yourself by using the wrong language. You won’t waste too much of your time going down a blind alley. And you won’t waste other people’s time by asking them for common knowledge.

Getting job information through reading

Two sources of general career information are available online, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor: The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) and the O*Net. They are an excellent place to start finding out about possibilities.

If you’d like a list of awesome creative jobs, my book, The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People, has the best information. Look in the Career Reference Section of the fourth edition for an organized list of 281 creative occupations, each containing a job description, salary and employers. You’ll discover creative occupations that the common person in the street has never even heard of!

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to certain fields or occupations, find more specific career resources. For example, if you love music, you might read a book or find a blog or website about careers in music. The OOH website can help you locate professional associations on the internet, where you may be able to post your questions electronically.

Getting job information through talking

When you have learned what you can by reading, talk to people. I’d start with your friendly local librarian. The librarian can help you find both general and specific career information as well as professional associations.

Once you’re ready to narrow down, talk to people in your preferred field. For example, if you’re interested in working as a music therapist, then talk to employed music therapists. Ask them your still-unanswered questions. Look for how to do informational interviewing either online or in self-help books like What Color is Your Parachute?

It may sound like a lot of work, but once you get started, you’ll find that it is fun to learn more about yourself and about exciting real world possibilities. It really is. And the time it takes to learn about yourself and the work world? It is actually not much time at all when you compare it to the tens of thousands of hours you’ll spend on the job.