Use to Advance Your Career Opportunities

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Jamie Vaughn

In a previous article, we shared how can help individuals discover jobs that their education has prepared them for and that those jobs can often go beyond the obvious ties. This article will address another challenge that recent graduates often face; how to identify jobs that can help advance a career. 

Sometimes graduates may explore job opportunities that are currently beyond their reach because employers are looking for candidates with more experience or a higher level of education. Some grads may already have a job but with newly acquired education and skills, they are looking for better career advancement opportunities. Both situations can lead to confusion as to which career opportunities a recent grad should pursue to get where they ultimately want to go. has tools to help provide clarity to recent graduates in career exploration. The Next Step and First Step tools utilize O*NET data to identify related occupations - those that require similar skills and knowledge but typically pay more - to show a potential path to career advancement.  

Julie wants to find a growth opportunity with her current employer

The Next Step tool was developed to guide users with a known starting job to identify occupations that could help advance their career. 

To further explain this, let me introduce Julie. Julie has been working as a Claims Adjuster at XYZ Insurance Company for the past four years while she worked towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. She enjoys working at XYZ Insurance and wants to build a career there. Using the Next Step tool, she identifies five occupations that could be considered advancement opportunities for her – see the image below. She knows her company hires Compliance Officers, Credit Analysts and Insurance Underwriters and is interested in these jobs. She eliminates Insurance Underwriters because the data shows that there will be little or no growth in this occupation over the next few years – see the key to the right of the circles in the image above. By hovering the cursor over the circle for each occupation and checking the “Compare” box in the popup window, Julie can see the wage differences and required education, experience, knowledge, and skill to advance into the three potential occupations – see the image below.

After reviewing each occupation’s profile page, Julie decides to pursue a Credit Analyst position. She could take her career exploration one step further and identify occupations that would be an advancement from a Credit Analyst by clicking on the “Add to Career Journey” link below the “Compare” box – see image to the right. There, she discovers that Financial Analysts, Personal Financial Advisors and Budget Analysts are additional advanced opportunities beyond a Credit Analyst position.

Watch a video demonstrating Julie’s journey using Next Step.

David likes computers and wants to manage people

Next, let’s discuss David.  He recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and  wants to work as a Computer and Information Systems Manager. From his career research, David understands that a Bachelor’s Degree is the minimum education required to work as a Computer and Information Systems Manager, but he also knows that it takes several years of experience to be truly qualified for this occupation. The First Step tool works to identify backward linkages and should be used when users already identify their target job, but needs to gain experience, additional skills, and knowledge.

Using First Step, David identifies four similar occupations that would help prepare him to become a Computer and Information Systems Manager by building up his experience and skills over the years– Information Security Analysts, Computer Network Architects, Computer Systems Analysts and Computer Occupations, All other. While reviewing the data, he notices that all these occupations have an annual average wage greater than $75,000, except for Computer Occupations, All Other, as indicated by the number of $ inside the circle and that they all have a good number of job openings as shown by the size the circle – see the key to the right of the image below.

By comparing the occupation’s knowledge and skills needed as well as reviewing the occupation profiles, David decides that he is most interested in working as a Computer Systems Analyst. When David is ready a for job search, he can click on the “Job Listings” link on the occupation profile and starts reviewing job postings and applying for jobs via job board.

Watch a video demonstrating David’s journey using First Step.