Once you have completed your career testing, you need to do career exploration to gain further understanding of each potential career. An excellent resource to assist in your exploration is the career information at our site provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Another source of career exploration information is to speak with those who are currently in the role or industry in which you have an interest. Although you may not know anyone personally in the role, it is likely that someone in your network can assist you in making that connection. If you do not have the personal connection in your network, ask family, friends and business acquaintances for recommendations. It may be a tennis partner of one of your parents or a bridge partner of a friend or a work associate of one of your friends. Use your personal network to dig down to the second level to find people in the targeted career job type or industry. Then call them, explain your network connection to them, ask if they have 5-10 minutes to assist you in better understanding their career and/or industry, then be prepared to ask these key questions:
- How long have you been in your career?
- What are the typical educational requirements for entry?
- How did you find each job in your career?
- What, if anything, would you do differently in your career? [to which you will often hear "That's a good question..." followed by a pause and some reflection--many people then tell you about some of their career regrets, although it's a topic area that's not often discussed, so it may take time to develop the response]
- [After providing a brief summary to your preparation to date] What would you recommend that I do to further prepare myself for this career?
- Would you recommend this career to someone with my background and abilities? [note that this opens up potential further discussion about your background, so be prepared to give a quick 30-second pitch on your background]
Often you will meet people in your target line of work in casual situations. Be ready with your set of questions. It doesn't have to come off as a structured informational interview, it is simply showing an interest in the person and his/her career. It is often in the more casual circumstances where you can get the most candid answers.
By researching careers in advance, you will help to minimize (although not eliminate) the number of career changes you make throughout the course of your work life and maximize your potential career trajectory. Yet you should continue to be flexible in making changes as both the job market changes and you change in your career needs.