The O*NET – Your GPS to Career Success
By Earl J. Berksteiner
Navigating to career success can be a daunting and elusive trail for some people. The O*NET can be likened to a Global Positioning System (GPS) in career development. Most travelers have certain elements in common: a starting point, markers, and a final destination. People in the workforce, no matter where they are in their career, have things in common too. Workers begin their careers with the first job. They walk the trail of career growth where promotions occur, training opportunities are offered, life altering events happen, and they often arrive at retirement as the final destination. The O*NET (https://www.onetonline.org/) is an online tool bursting with the latest data regarding the labor market, occupational descriptions, profile assessment tools, and other aids to assist those in the workforce. Similar to a GPS, the O*NET guides us along the many waypoints of a career journey.
O*NET Products for the Journey
Students and other job seekers can access the O*NET’s products to begin the career development journey. Career Exploration Tools, O*NET Online, and the Skills Search are some of the powerful tools to investigate over 900 occupations (National Center for O*NET Development, 2015). Information such as knowledge, skills, abilities, salary averages, occupational requirements, and training requirements are readily available. Are you not sure of yourself or your career direction? O*NET offers online assessment profilers that allow users to obtain an evaluation of their skills, personality, values, and other characteristics that will help in career decisions.
My Next Move is a great product for those who have an interest in an occupation and want to learn more about it. Users have the option of searching by keywords or industry. This location is where users can find the Interest Profiler, which is accessed by clicking the start button on the Tell Us What You Like to Do section of the page. In addition, a hyperlink is included to a section on the Green Economy as well as My Next Move for Veterans. Veterans can enter their military classification and the program will suggest civilian careers with similar work, an example of a “crosswalk” (National Center for O*NET Development, 2015).
Another product that is very helpful is Career Ladders and Lattices. This product provides a pictorial representation of job options available to users as they progress through a career. Included are descriptions of occupations and the experiences that are necessary to enable movement between jobs. Users of the product not only get a vertical depiction (ladders) of career promotion and options, they get a lateral depiction (lattices) of career movement as well. Career Ladders and Lattices serve several purposes. They show career progression beyond simply the point of entry, while also helping workforce development efforts to become more focused. In addition, interconnections between different jobs within an industry are revealed. Finally, users are apprised of training and other requirements that will empower them to accomplish their career objectives (National Center for O*NET Development, 2015). Career Ladders and Lattices is easily accessible from the O*NET’s home page by selecting the O*NET Sites tab, then selecting O*NET Resource Center, followed by Using O*NET, and finally choosing Career Ladders and Lattices.
The O*NET’s Versatility
A variety of audiences will find the information in the O*NET to be up to date, pertinent and very helpful. Counselors can use the O*NET to connect their clients to profilers and find information about specific occupations that will be a good fit for them. This tool is also appropriate for human resources personnel, who can use it to develop job descriptions or assist employees in recognizing skills needed for advancement. Web site creators and product developers can incorporate O*NET information into their applications. For instance, web site managers can insert O*NET graphics and URLs into websites and publications as a method of connecting their products to the O*NET website. Another appropriate audience is researchers, who can access more than 30 papers on the development and evolution of the O*NET databases and tools (National Center for O*NET Development, 2015).
Let’s Get Our Bearings
Navigating to career success does not have to be a meandering trail of uncertainty. The O*NET can be the GPS for job seekers and also the employed. It is a powerful career navigation tool that provides data to users so they can make informed decisions. This online system from the US Department of Labor is brimming with the latest data regarding the labor market, occupational descriptions, profile assessment tools, and other aids to assist those entering the workforce or changing careers. To access the O*NET go to http://www.onetonline.org/ and get your bearings.
National Center for O*NET Development. Overview. O*NET Resource Center. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from http://www.onetcenter.org/overview.html
National Center for O*NET Development. My Next Move. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from
National Center for O*NET Development. Career Ladders and Lattices. O*NET Resource Center. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from http://www.onetcenter.org/ladders.html
National Center for O*NET Development. Using O*NET. O*NET Resource Center. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from http://www.onetcenter.org/using.html
National Center for O*NET Development. Career Ladders and Lattices. O*NET Resource Center. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from http://www.onetcenter.org/ladders.html?zoom=1
Earl Berksteiner, Ed.D., CPCC, is a career coach at University Career Services, Savannah State University in Savannah, GA. He assists students and alumni in managing their careers by providing career development services. His past experience includes providing career services to military veterans and the general unemployed population. Dr. Berksteiner holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. He can be reached at Berksteinere@Savannahstate.edu.