If you are one of the more than 200,000 service members that will leave the military this year, then you will (or should) start your job search preparation soon. One of the first questions usually asked is “Do I want to stay in the same field?” Some career fields like healthcare, trades, and IT make the transition easy. However if you have decided you want a change, but aren’t sure what you want to do, one handy tool that makes the career picture more clear is the Interest Profiler by O*NET.

Answer the 60 questions

It starts by having the participant to answer 60 task-type questions by how well they like to do the task from “Strongly Dislike” to “Strongly Like”. For example, two of the tasks are “Lay brick or tile” and “Help people with personal or emotional problems”. Then it takes all the answers and using an algorithm displays them in a bar graph with six broad categories:

  1. Realistic
  2. Investigative
  3. Artistic
  4. Social
  5. Enterprising
  6. Conventional

The bar graph shows your interest in each category based on how you answered the questions. Drill down into each category to get more information about the likes and dislikes of people identifying in each category.

Select a Job Zone

Once the interests are identified, it moves to job zones. Here it displays groups of careers all requiring the same level of preparation needed in three areas: experience, education and training. The job zones are further broken down into five areas:

  • Little to no job preparation –
    • Experience – Little to none required
    • Education – High school diploma or GED
    • Training – A few days to a few months – usually a person doing that same job can show how to do it
    • Sample required skills – must be able to follow instructions and help others
  • Some preparation needed –
    • Experience – Previous work-related skill necessary, such as a bank teller experienced working with the public
    • Education – High school diploma or GED
    • Training – A few months to one year working with an experienced employee or completing an apprenticeship, for example
    • Sample required skills – able to effectively communicate with others and attention-to-detail
  • Medium preparation –
    • Experience – Previous skill, knowledge and experience required. An electrician for example needs several years of experience
    • Education – vocational school or associates degree
    • Training – one to two years of on-the-job experience. An electrician needs to have either completed an electrician trades course or apprenticeship
    • Sample required skills – communication and organizational skills, along with being a team leader
  • High preparation needed –
    • Experience – several years of experience required
    • Education – at least four-year degree usually required
    • Training – several years required
    • Sample required skills – coordinating, supervising, managing and the ability to train others
  • Extensive preparation needed –
    • Experience – extensive skill and knowledge needed
    • Education – graduate degree usually required
    • Training – needs to have the skill and experience before starting the job
    • Sample required skills – advanced communication and organization skills, along with coordinating, supervising, managing and training

Review possible career matches

Once a job zone has been selected, it takes the zone and bar graph results, and presents a list of possible job matches. For example:

  • Job Zone 1 – requires no further preparation — for jobs like front line cook or derrick operator
  • Job Zones 2 and 3 – requires more education ranging from certificates or certifications, to vocational/technical-type schooling
  • Job Zone 4 – requires at least a four-year degree and additional experience. Sample jobs listed in this job zone were airline pilot, civil engineer, city and regional planner.
  • Job Zone 5 – requires at least a graduate degree, along with extensive experience and training. Some sample jobs listed were cytotechnologist, fuel cell engineer and bioinformatics scientist.

Because this exercise is based on interests, and current levels of education, experience and training (or expectation of the three), the recommended careers should not only be interesting to you, but also rewarding from the job satisfaction point-of-view. However, it is important to note that salary and job availability are not factored in as part of this exercise but should be included as a part of the whole job search preparation process.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.