Three critical facts to research about your next job

Career exploration starts with research. Now that you have taken stock of your Values, Interests, Natural disposition, Exceptional strengths, and Skills (known as your V.I.N.E.S.) and you have come up with potential targets, it’s time to seek out information. The data you collect will help you narrow down your search. As you gather more facts, you may decide to remove some roles that don’t meet your expectations. You may also discover new opportunities that were not even on your radar. This can happen with fields that are growing and evolving quickly. You might come across these by talking to professionals who are working within the industry. 

As this blog series continues, this link will take you to the first one, addressing each chapter of The Purple Parachute: A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Winds of Career Change; this post will address ways to seek out further information to help you make informed career decisions (Chapter 8). The “S” in the A.S.T.E.R. Career Model stands for “Seek out” because it is necessary to gather more details at this point in the process. 


There are three critical pieces of information for you to collect when you are researching.

1) Can you live on the income this job offers?  First, you need to know what your income needs are, which can be a preliminary exercise.  Next, you must research the pay range for this type of role.  The range will vary depending on level of experience, so consider yours. If you are new to a field, you are likely going to start at the bottom of the pay scale. The pay may also differ depending on the type of employer (government, non-profit, or private industry). If you know upfront that you will not make the kind of money you need to live at this moment in your life, it’s not worth pursuing this path right now.

2) Do you have the education and training to do this job right now? If you have the credentials to do this job now, that’s great. You can move forward with your research. If not, can you obtain training quickly and at a low cost? Don’t rule out a career path just because you might need some education (though I don’t necessarily recommend jumping into a degree program as the best answer). Assess your knowledge gaps. You may need to learn a whole new industry, or you may need to refresh and update your learning. I will talk more about how to test out roles in my next blog, so I will save further discussion on how to fill gaps of knowledge for that post.

3) What is the projected growth of the job or industry? Do these jobs exist where you live? If not, are you willing to move to a place where this industry is flourishing? As you can imagine, it’s best to enter a job or industry that is growing. Industries like IT and healthcare are obviously in demand and will not be shrinking anytime soon. Other industries are on the way out, and new technologies like AI will create jobs that don’t even exist yet. It’s important to research the current and future viability of your targets. You can go after a job that is not growing or even shrinking, but your competition will be much higher. It’s wisest to pick an industry that is growing or at least remaining stable in a place you are willing to live. 


To answer the questions above, you may need to investigate further. There is an exhaustive amount of data on the internet and in books. This is a good place to start your research efforts. The US Department of Labor (DOL) offers multiple sites for this task. I find O*net to be the most user-friendly, but there are others, such as MyNextMove and the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Keep in mind that most DOL websites are basing their data on projections made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), so no DOL site should be offering wildly different facts. 

Try a library. Many libraries offer access to data sources that would be too expensive for an individual to purchase. Visit the public library where you live. If you are a student, try the library on campus. I highly admire reference librarians. Go to a library and tell them what information you seek. You’d be surprised at the resources they can offer.

Finally, seek out professional associations for the job or field you are researching. These organizations offer a wealth of information, too, though you may have to be a member to access it. Some large association memberships can be prohibitively expensive, but sometimes you can join a local chapter for less money. Also, chapter affiliates might offer meetings where you can connect with people who live near you. 

All the sources mentioned may offer career data that could include salary, working conditions, and KSAs (Knowledge, Skill, and Ability requirements). Specifically for salary research, you can also try these sites focused on pay: and


It’s great to conduct initial research through the avenues listed above, but at some point, you must talk to humans who do the work to get the full story. These are called informational interviews, and they can be planned and formal or spontaneous and informal. They can take place in an office, over a Zoom meeting, or on an airplane ride. You are not asking for a job. You are simply gathering information to help you make an informed career decision. Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, this is a necessary part of the process.

I suggest speaking to two people in each role you are considering. Too much is riding on one person’s opinion. Trying to meet with four people will be daunting. You can ask a few questions over a 30-minute period to get a sense of the information that O*net won’t tell you. For example, O*net won’t state that a roofer can’t be afraid of heights or that a nurse can’t faint every time she sees blood, but these are obviously important criteria for those jobs. The two most powerful questions to ask are “What do you like the most about your job?” and “What do you like the least about your job?”. If you have more time, you could ask, “What is a typical day/week like?”, “How did you enter this industry?” or “How can someone with my background break into this field?”. 

Researching a new field or job may seem like a lot of work, but it will pay off. Investing time to learn more about your potential future roles will more likely lead to a great match on the backend. Have fun exploring the world around you and the potential opportunities that could be a good fit for you right now.


P.S.  The deadline for my class Gain Career Clarity for your Next Career Change is on March 10thFind out more about it here

Also, I will be holding a free event to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th at noon ET, and you can sign up here.