Discover, Explore, and Use
by Lawrence K. Jones
This article is written for those who are unacquainted with The Career Key website (link to: http://www.careerkey.org/english/) as well as for those who have used it in the past. You will learn about its salient features, how you can use it in your practice, and what you might expect in the future.
An Overview. The Career Key website is a free, public service website created to help people make good career decisions. It was first started in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Since 2000 my wife, Jeanine Wehr, and I have supported it. Today, approximately 5,000 persons visit the site daily; more than six million have visited the site since it was launched in 1997. At this time, 842 websites link to it -- mostly schools, colleges, agencies, and libraries. It has been translated into Chinese, Korean, Urdu, Romanian, and Spanish.
Philosophy. My wife, Jeanine Wehr, and I support this service because we want to help people and their families lead a more satisfying life. We hope it will contribute to greater world peace and prosperity. By providing practical information to everyone, we hope The Career Key will empower people to make informed decisions and act in their best self-interest and, ultimately, the best interests of their country.
The Test. The Career Key website has two major parts, the Career Key test and self-help modules. Counselors know this site best by its professional-quality career interest inventory, The Career Key. It measures an individual's resemblance to Holland's six personality types, helps them identify occupations that match their personality, and links those identified with information in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It was the first web-based career guidance system to do this. And, The Career Key is one of the few career tests on the Internet with studies supporting its validity, reliability, and helpfulness.
Self-Help Modules. The website also includes many self-help modules for visitors, as well as counseling professionals. In writing them, I was guided by my earlier experience of writing and editing The Encyclopedia of Career Change and Work Issues, which was selected by the American Library Association as one of the outstanding reference books of 1993. The goal of the Encyclopedia was to provide essential information and practical guidance using "best practices" to help people solve career choice and work problems. In addition, I wrote these modules for the widest audience I could, middle school students through adults. There are more than 20 in all. Here are some examples:
Holland's Theory of Career Choice
Holland's theory is described, including the six personality and environment types.
Learn about the World of Work
It encourages visitors to do other activities, in addition to reviewing print and Internet sources. For example, "information interviewing" is described in eight practical steps.
Learn More about Yourself
Eight strategies are described for developing a clearer picture of who you are and the life-style you want to lead.
This is a practical, four-step model: Alternatives, Consequences, Information, and Plans based on extensive research.
Choosing a College Major
Students are encouraged to apply the four-step decision making model, described above, to answer this question. Practical suggestions are given for how they can do this.
Recent Modules. Over the past year, several new modules have been added, both for career professionals, as well as youth and adults. They include:
Beware of Harmful Career "Tests" on the Internet
Describes to students and the public how invalid web-based career assessments can harm them and what they can do to protect themselves. There is a similar, more technical module written for career professionals and educators.
A Military Career?
Youth follow a decision-making procedure that is most likely to lead to a good decision. Resources and information are provided for them to consider their alternatives, the pros and cons of each, how to get more information, and plan once they have decided.
Identify Your Skills and Make Them Work for You
Encourages individuals to know what the different types of skills are; identify your skills, know the skills employers want; communicate your skills to employers, and learn new skills. Practical steps are offered in how to this.
The Value of Career Counseling and Guidance
Describes the findings of an extensive review of the research literature on the benefits of career counseling and guidance.
Achieving the ASCA National Standards
Shows how school counselors can use this website to fulfill many of the competencies from the ASCA National Standards for School Counseling Programs.
eBookStore. A number of digital publications can be purchased and received online. These were created to offset some of the costs of the website, to reduce the amount of time spent responding to requests to make copies, and to make practical, self-help publications readily available at low cost. Some of the titles are: The Career Key (the paper-pencil version in English and Spanish); What Job is Best for You?; and Choosing Your College Major.
The Future. New modules are planned, and some of the current modules will be strengthened. We are also looking at ways the arts might be used to enrich our understanding and appreciation of work, for example, poetry. What do you think? We welcome your comments and suggestions, and invite you to explore and use this service.
Lawrence K. Jones, Ph.D., NCC is Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University and is now a career consultant living in Hood River, Oregon. He is the author of numerous publications and in 2001 received the American Counseling Association's annual Professional Development award. He can be reached at
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