The absolute best sources for career and job information include:
- The Occupational Outlook Handook (OOH)
- O*Net Online
- Company web sites
- Salary.com and/or Payscale.com
Occupational Outlook Handbook
You can find tons of great information about hundreds of occupations in the OOH. I have been using it and recommending it for more than thirty years. Published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it used to be a set of huge books and quarterly updates. Now, of course, it's online and includes important information about different jobs, like:
- the training and education needed
- expected job prospects
- what workers do on the job
- working conditions
- information about the job market in each State
- information about the jobs and economy of tomorrow
- salary information from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program.
Indeed.com is an aggregator of job announcements and advertisements from all across the web. If all you were going to do to find work was to look at the want ads, this would either be a perfect starting point or a one-stop solution.
In addition to showing ads, Indeed.com also has salary information and job trend information. Their data comes from what's being advertised.
To search indeed.com, use the job search box on the left.
As you look at job announcements online, you need to understand that this is not how you are actually going to find a job, not if you are a serious job seeker. The odds are that online announcements are not going to yield a position. You need to look at them to understand the types of positions being announced and to better understand your options and to have a sense of what is happening in the employment field.
This resource used to be known as the Guide to Occupational Exploration and it used to be in one book that fit neatly on a shelf. It is now an exhaustive information source that is extensively cross-referenced. On the main search page, you might find it useful to search in the Career Clusters, Job Families or "In-Demand Industry Clusters." The "Job Zones" describe different preparation levels.
We are going to be using this more as a reference after you have done a self-assessment of your interests. The search by interests page is useful in a couple of ways. It can help you understand how your interests fit with different career paths and it can lead you to job descriptions that will help you filter through what you really like and what you really don't.
The way that specific occupations are described at O*Net (with exhaustive lists of characteristics) is not as useful as the descriptions in the OOH. But when it comes time to write your resume, you are going to want to go here to see the skill lists associated with different careers.
Neuvoo is a job search engine with one of the largest job databases in the US (~3 million jobs). It is easy to use, and job seekers by location, profession, industry, or keyword. There's also a free 'take-home' (after-tax) salary calculator on neuvoo.
Before you go on any informational interview or job interview, and before you file an application or send a resume, you absolutely need to check out the company's website. You need to know the business they're in and whatever else you can learn about the company's mission, goals and areas of operation.
Most companies post their available jobs on their websites, but often they are just posting information about their higher level positions. If you are at the entry level, this is often really good information because the job descriptions for the executives will tell you what the people down below must be helping with.
For company websites, we are going to be using Google.
Salary.com, Glassdoor.com and Payscale.com
At the start, you only need to have some general information about the salaries you might expect. When it comes time to make decisions about accepting a job offer and negotiating a salary, you want as much information as possible. The OOH will give you the general ranges (see the OES data), but sites such as glassdoor.com, salary.com and payscale.com will give you information that is specific to particular cities or zip codes and that is based on large pools of data. For most purposes, the "free reports" are sufficient. If you are negotiating for that million dollar bonus, you might consider their fee based reports. Their data comes from compensation specialists with access, and from surveys and research.
When you use these salary estimators, make certain that you look carefully at the job descriptions. You want to make certain that the job for which you are getting a salary estimate has similar duties and requirements as the one you are applying for.