During my stages of career transition, I did a lot of research. In fact, a lot of it happened before I actually made the decision of going back to school and pursuing a career as a Career Practitioner. It was hard for me to figure out which websites were helpful and accurate, but now that I’m a Career Counsellor, I feel like I have seen a good number of resources and have my favourite go-to’s for my clients.
Before we dive into the online resources, I would like to mention that this is the most simple form of career exploration. Researching online is not going to tell you everything you need to know about a career path. The best way to learn about a career and industry is to either talk to someone already in the career you are interested in or to experience the role by working in it (or volunteering or job shadowing).
Also note that the resources I am mentioning here are resources that are publicly available to everyone. They do not include the resources that I, as a Career Counsellor, have special access to, however these are great resources that I recommend for most people to do online research into the careers they are interested in.
I have 7 online career resources to share with you today. Let’s get to the list, shall we?
WorkBC.ca is a BC government site that supplies information on careers, labour market information, resources, and jobs. There are over 500 career profiles that you can read up on in terms of job requirements, average earnings, work environment, workforce statistics, and the potential career path. The best part of the profile is a video of an actual employee in the role and they take you through their work day and answer common questions about the field. The WorkBC site’s labour market information is really useful because it tells you which occupations are listed as “high opportunity occupations”, meaning that there is a growing demand to fill those positions. Use this site if you want to do more general research about a career field and keep in mind that the information is BC-specific.
O*NET is a free online database that contains hundreds of occupational definitions to help students and job seekers. It was developed under the sponsorship of the US Department of Labor. While it is not a BC-based site like WorkBC, I feel like the information is still very relevant and useful for career exploration.
One of the reasons that I like using O*NET is because they utilize the John Holland Code in the “interests” section. If you know your John Holland Code, you can search for occupations that match your code to see if you are interested in them. On each profile, you can get information on the tasks, skills, knowledge, education, and other related job titles to help you research more about the career field.
There are so many post-secondary institutions in BC that offer a variety of programs. How do you know which schools have the program you are interested in? EducationPlannerBC.ca makes finding a school program more simple in BC by being a central hub of information. You can find information about the various programs and institutions across BC. You can filter for which institutions are nearby and get the direct links to the school’s website. While this site is not perfect, it is the best aggregation of public post-secondary school information in BC. Note that it does not include information on specialty or private schools.
It is so easy to film a video and post it on Youtube. And luckily for us, there are Youtubers that post about their unfiltered experiences in their job. When I use government career platforms (like WorkBC) or general career sites, I find that the information is good but it is also carefully curated. To be fair, it is important for those sites to remain neutral as every person’s experience working in the career is different. However, I find that most people’s expectations are not accurately aligned with the reality of a job when they do not hear about the challenges of the type of work they are interested in. With Youtube, you have real people sharing their experiences. A good video will showcase the pros and cons in working in that career field.
If you have ever searched for a job before, chances are you came across Indeed. Indeed has the largest job database on the internet, making it a great way to get information on the jobs and careers that interest you. You can find job openings that are available in your geographic location. With those job postings, you can learn more about the types of companies that are hiring, in addition to the duties and responsibilities, skills and education requirements, and sometimes salary information of the job. Reading job descriptions can give you a good idea of whether you would like to do that job in the future. I recommend reading a few different job descriptions that showcase different levels in a career to understand how the career progression may look like for someone in the career field.
When I was applying for jobs, I would always check the company’s ratings on Glassdoor to see if there were any red flags about the company. A positive work environment was really important to me and I did not want to waste my time applying for a position that I would quickly want to leave.
Glassdoor is a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies. This information about employees’ experience can be very valuable to your career exploration and research. With Glassdoor, you can get information about what it would be like to work at a certain company and what the interview process and potential salary might be. However, I do caution you to take the information with a grain of salt, as anyone can post on Glassdoor and as with any sort of social platform, there is no way to verify whether the information is 100% real.
LinkedIn is a online social networking site targeted towards professionals and has over 690 million members. In order to use LinkedIn, you will need to create a profile and from there, you can add connections where you can view each other’s profile and message each other. On LinkedIn, you can follow information from your favourite companies, join groups, and search for jobs. Recruiters are frequently active on LinkedIn and having an updated profile page can land you potential opportunities.
While most people just leave their LinkedIn profile up for others to find, LinkedIn is best used as a networking tool. Because people list what companies they work for, you can go to a company page and find people you may be interested in connecting with to learn more through an information interview. Another great tool on LinkedIn is to search for alumni through your post-secondary institution’s page. If you are a student who is looking to graduate in a particular program, it would be helpful to see what work opportunities other successful graduates have obtained. You can then review their profiles and find clues on what you may need to do in order to get into that particular career field. I would recommend connecting with people who have interesting profiles to learn more through an information interview.
Professional Association Websites
You can find a lot of information online through the professional association’s website of the career field you are interested in. To be “certified” or “registered” as a professional, you will have to meet certain requirements that would be listed on the website. This may include education requirements and qualifying schools, as well as a minimum experience requirement. Often, these professional associations will host information sessions on acquiring the membership and becoming “certified” and also host a variety of events where you can meet other professionals in the field. If you are a student, you may be able to take advantage of a student discount.
There is so much information online so I hope this helps to narrow down the best places for online career research. If you know of a great career resource that you would like to recommend, please let me know about it. Depending on the career field you are interested in, there are definitely a lot more specific resources. I have tried to capture helpful and specific career resources for the Vancouver Career Spotlight blogs. Definitely reach out to your career mentors and industry experts for their best resources for specific information related to your field.