Often, when we do research at our job, we have subject matter experts, consultants, and co-workers to advise us. We are on our own for the job search, though, so we have to find sources of reliable information and then analyze it ourselves.
A few of the resources I refer to when writing this blog or helping clients include:
- US Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Employment Projections Website,
- Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) Website,
- Occupational Information Network (O*Net) Website,
- State and local websites, and
- Private sector sources of data.
No doubt, as you do your job market and job search research you’ll find lots of data sources yourself. Jobseekers should glean accurate and useful information quickly using the links and suggestions we’ll provide as a starting point.
Employment Projections Website
The USDOL’s Employment Projections (EP) Website is one of my favorite sources of information for looking at the future of the job market. This blog, and our Guide to the Post-pandemic Job Market have cited EP tables, including:
- Table 1.3 Fastest growing occupations, 2021 and projected 2031
- Table 1.4 Occupations with the most job growth, 2021 and projected 2031
- Table 1.5 Fastest declining occupations, 2021 and projected 2031
- Table 1.6 Occupations with the largest job declines, 2021 and projected 2031.
You will find the data tables especially reliable and useful for at least two reasons. First, the USDOL EP Website provides these tables in an Excel workbook file you can download at no cost, along with information on the Department’s research methodology. Also, data on each occupation in the tables is indexed back to its entry in an authoritative database called O*Net via its “National Employment Matrix” code. The code is not a hyperlink on the Website, although your favorite search engine will take you to the correct O*Net page almost as quickly. (More on O*Net later)
Occupational Outlook Handbook
A reference work known as the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) has been a “go to” source of information for me since my college advisor showed it to me back in high school. It was a thick reference book then, and is available as an online resource at no cost today.
You’ll find that the OOH is a quick way to learn about an occupation. For example, the entry for Web Designers and Digital Designers has tabs covering:
- What they do,
- Work environment,
- How to become one,
- Job outlook,
- State and area data, and
- Similar occupations.
Additionally, this entry includes a video about the occupation. That’s great for jobseekers who prefer learning from YouTube videos instead of reading text.
The Occupational Information Network (O*Net)
When I started working as a career advisor in the 1990s, one of the first reference books I looked for in the office was the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). The office copy was old because, I soon learned, it was being replaced by a system called O*Net. The O*Net program, sponsored by the US Department of Labor, describes itself as “the nation’s primary source of occupational information.” According to its Website, the O*Net database, contains “hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors on almost 1,000 occupations covering the entire U.S. economy. The database, which is available to the public at no cost, is continually updated from input by a broad range of workers in each occupation.”
Resume writers and career coaches value the site because it is a free source of keywords and skills that can be included on resumes and other career marketing content.
Another useful function is that you can enter a military occupational specialty (MOS) code into a search box and get information about the job’s civilian equivalent. It’s a challenge to describe military assignments in ways that civilian employers will understand and appreciate, and then to explain them at interviews. As a result, an MOS to civilian “crosswalk” is, in my opinion, a handy tool.
So, you can find much of the national-level career exploration information you need with just a few clicks or taps.
State and Local Websites
Most of us do localized job searches. National-level data does not necessarily tell us what is happening in our local job market. Fortunately, your state probably has local information online, too. For example, New York State’s Department of Labor publishes statewide data on its Website, including specific data for the New York City Region.
Private Sector Data
A quick search on a subject such as employment trends will yield lots of information from private-sector websites. This includes information from blogs, podcasts, YouTube video channels, and professional association websites, in addition to traditional newspapers and periodicals. You can and should narrow your search to your industry, profession, and locality.
The key thing to remember is that anyone can post anything online. The online versions of major newspapers such as the New York Times have rigorous fact-checking procedures.
Industry, trade, and professional association websites often have a vested interest in providing timely and accurate information to their members, so I’ve found their factual information is usually reliable.
Fact-check blog posts and other Web content yourself, especially if the author is unfamiliar to you. Unlike traditional journalistic sources, certain bloggers and content creators can and do post anything without independent fact-checking. And many blogs exist primarily to attract clicks, so they use headlines that are not necessarily supported by the facts in their posts, videos, podcasts, or other content.
Even material posted from traditional business publications may be little more than content marketing. A well-known business publication once offered me an opportunity to be on a “council,” and publish career-related articles on their prestigious site for the cost of $1200 per year. In other words, I would pay them to post my valuable information, instead of being paid for my information and analysis! The best advice we can offer is, as Ronald Reagan said, “trust but verify” the career information and job market statistics you find online.