Navigating Your Career Path: A Guide to O*Net and My Next Move

In a previous blog, I discussed key factors to consider when embarking on a new career path or job search. I also introduced readers to O*Net and My Next Move. I have walked alongside individuals on their journey to success. There are definite opportunities for growth, self-discovery, and the pursuit of job satisfaction. Still, I also understand that this process can bring uncertainty and fear of the unknown. O*Net and My Next Move are websites with tools that will empower you to make well-informed, data-driven decisions. You can proceed on your career journey with confidence and assurance that you are on the right path instead of letting uncertainty and fear hold you back.


What is O*Net? O*Net stands for Occupational Information Network. O*Net online was created to provide the public access to the O*Net database of occupational information. Both O*Net and My Next Move were developed for the U.S. Department of Labor by the National Center for O*Net Development. What information can O*Net provide? It can provide guidance on skills, knowledge, abilities, work activities, and occupations that align with personal interests. The vast array of labor market research and occupational information provided by O*Net is astounding. According to the online overview, job seekers use O*Net to:

  • Find out which jobs fit with their interests, skills, and experience.
  • Explore growth career profiles using the latest available labor market data.
  • Research what it takes to get their dream job.
  • Maximize earning potential and job satisfaction.
  • Know what it takes to be successful in their field and related occupations.

Some key features of O*Net include occupation and industry search, skills search, abilities, work values, and interests search, as well as occupational outlooks. I will briefly overview these features and how you can use them.

Occupation and Industry Search

Occupations are a job or vocation an individual does to pursue a career or earn a living. Industries are determined by grouping organizations and businesses that perform similar activities, manufacture or sell similar products, or offer similar services.

For O*Net, occupations are included based on the percentage of individuals employed in the industry. Some examples of industries include Accommodation and Food Services, Health Care and Social Assistance, and Manufacturing.

When searching by industry, a list of occupations is provided along with their projected growth and projected job openings over a period of 10 years. This information can help you make data-informed decisions about jobs and careers to pursue. When looking at a specific occupation, there are seven categories as follows:


Skills Search

O*Net provides the ability to browse both basic skills and cross-functional skills. Basic skills are the abilities that help you learn and understand things quickly. They are talents that make it easier for you to learn new things. Cross-functional skills help you perform tasks that may be required in multiple jobs. These skills allow you to perform valuable functions in many different positions. You may have heard these cross-functional skills called transferable skills. The names are used interchangeably. These skills are not job or industry-specific but may be valuable in various settings, thus making them transferable.

When looking through both the basic and cross-functional skills, I recommend noting the skills that you have. When I was an employment specialist, a skills checklist was one of the first tasks I typically assigned to a job seeker. This information is invaluable in the search and can be used on a resume.

Abilities, Work Values, and Interests Search

Abilities, work values, and interests search can all be found under the O*Net Data tab.

According to O*Net, online abilities are the enduring attributes of the individual that influence performance. Some abilities include cognitive abilities (example: problem-solving), physical abilities (example: strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and coordination), Psychomotor Abilities (capacity to manipulate and control objects), and Sensory Abilities (visual, auditory, and speech perception).

Work values are aspects of an occupation that lead to an individual’s satisfaction with their work. Some of the work values include achievement (use of strongest abilities and the feeling of accomplishment), independence (autonomy or ability to make your own decisions), recognition (availability of advancement, leadership potential, prestigious), relationships (work in a friendly, non-competitive environment), support (management that is supportive and stands behind employees), and working conditions (offer job security and good working conditions).

The interest search directly correlates with the O*Net Career Interest Profiler. This profiler asks questions related to interests and asks individuals to rate them from strongly like to strongly dislike. Based on your answers to these questions, the profiler will rate your interests in six categories: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. I highly recommend taking this career assessment before any job search or career change. It can be very insightful and give you direction for your career journey.

Occupational Outlooks

Under the Find Occupations drop-down menu, you will find a Bright Outlook option. According to O*Net Online, Bright Outlook occupations include ones that will rapidly grow over the next several years. These occupations will also have a large number of job openings or are new and emerging occupations. Individuals can look at all Bright Outlook occupations or filter by rapid growth, numerous job openings, and new and emerging ones.

Rapid-growth occupations are projected to grow faster than average, which means an employment increase of 8% or more. Occupations under the numerous job openings list are projected to have 100,000 or more job openings over ten years. When you select any of these options, it will give you a list of occupations that you can choose for more information.

My Next Move

My Next Move is very similar to O*Net online. In fact, it pulls data directly from O*Net. The experience is more user-friendly, and the offerings are simplified and personalized. The website has tasks, skills, salary information, and more for 900+ careers. The website gives users a few different ways to do career research. Users can do keyword searches, browse by industry, or use the O*Net Interest Profiler tool.

Occupation and career research are vital for success, and O*Net and My Next Move are powerful tools to assist in this process. Looking through the data may seem difficult at first or may take too much time, but the insight that can be found is worth the effort. Don’t let fear or uncertainty hold you back. Empower yourself to use research insights to make well-informed and data-driven decisions. Know with confidence that you are on the right path for your career and for finding joy and fulfillment in the work you do.

Please remember that you do not have to do this alone. Goodwill professionals can help you with this process. Please reach out to them for assistance.

Best wishes on your career journey. Goodbye for now!