My FAVORITE Tools for Career Exploration

I am constantly asked about my “go-to” resources for Career Exploration. The list is constantly evolving and even just this past week I found a new resource that I absolutely love so I thought I’d share my top tools here with you. Each of these resources is completely free and highlights a different aspect of exploring careers. I often tell students that the career exploration journey is similar to putting together a puzzle…. One individual tool is not going to show you the entire story but as you put together more and more pieces of the puzzle, the full picture will begin to come into view. I encourage you to try each one out and use them together as you begin to chart your path toward college and your career.


ASA Futurescape has only been around since mid-2020 but it is quickly becoming one of my favorite resources! It takes the traditional theory from John Holland and modernizes it in a way that is fun and interesting for teenagers and adults alike. This IS NOT your average career assessment as you navigate the decisions of what you would do when magical blobs jump from your computer screen and join you in the real world! The brief interactive quiz yields your top three results in six areas to build your personalized Holland Code: conventional (data-driven careers), realistic (scientific careers), investigative (analytic careers), artistic (creative careers), social (teaching careers), or enterprising (influential careers). You can then explore career options that are presented to you based on your unique Holland Code.

2 | 16 Personalities

16 Personalities is a free personality assessment derived from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Big Five Personality Traits. It rates your personality in 4 areas

  1. How are you energized? (Introversion vs Extraversion)

  2. How do you perceive information? (Sensing vs Intuition)

  3. How do you make decisions? (Thinking vs Feeling)

  4. How do you live your life? (Judging vs Perceiving)

Once you take the 15-20 minute online assessment you are provided a full detailed walkthrough of your personality type. Focus on the areas of Strengths, Career Paths, and Workplace Habits for the most insights into finding the right career for you!

3 | Career One-Stop

Career One Stop is a resource from the US Department of Labor and truly is a one-stop-shop for resources to explore and learn more about particular careers. One of my favorite features includes the career videos available for almost any career imaginable. While the voice-over can be a bit monotone, each video provides a brief in-depth look at a particular career along with statistics on job outlook, average salary, and education needed.

4 | O*NET

O*NET (or the Occupational Information Network) is THE resource when it comes to data and statistics on careers in the United States. It is a free online database that contains hundreds of occupational definitions to help understand today’s world of work. Simply type the name of a career into the search bar at the top and you will come across detailed information around that career. You will quickly find the top skills, abilities, and common work activities within a particular field. You can dive into the details around salary and education requirements and future job outlook in a specific part of the country. There is even a feature for you to look at related occupations so if you find something you like, you can broaden your search to similar career fields. In addition to searching by name, you can also go into the advanced search to explore by topics such as work values, abilities, or interests (that come from the Holland Code we talked about above).

5 | Informational Interviews

Informational Interviews are one of my favorite tools for career exploration. These are brief (20-40 minute) structured interviews where you ask a series of questions to a professional in a career field of interest. You can start with a family member and then reach out to find those closer to your specific niche. Informational Interviews are a great way to learn more about the day-to-day in a particular field and the path to get there. Most people are more than happy to spend 30 minutes talking about what they do and how they got there. I love informational interviewing so much that I wrote an entire blog post devoted to them – Informational Interviewing: An Easy Way for Students to Start Exploring Careers and Building their Network NOW!

I tell students this all the time…

It’s okay to not know what you want to study in college or what type of career is right for you, but… You can’t just sit back and assume that one day, lightning will strike, and all of a sudden you will know which path to follow. Figuring out which direction you want to go takes effort. You need to explore and reflect so that over time, your career path becomes clear.

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