Step Two: Investigate the World of Work

Step One: Learn About Yourself

Step Two: Investigate the World of Work

Step Three: Use What You Have Learned

Step Four: Test the Waters

Step Five: Find the Right Job





Step Two: Investigate the World of Work CCPG_47 PDF icon

Why Investigate the World of Work? CCPG_48 PDF icon

You need to investigate the world of work for a number of reasons. The most important is to determine what occupations and jobs best match your skills, interests, values, and personality. You could just comb through the “want ads” in the newspaper, but that’s letting the world randomly match you with a job. To ensure that you find a job in which you will excel and find enjoyment, you must take a proactive role in finding the job that is a good fit.

By investigating the world of work, you’ll learn about the hiring process from the perspective of the employer. You may be surprised when you find their concerns to be quite different from your own. Understanding the employer’s concerns will make you a more competitive job candidate. In the interview, for example, you will be able to verbalize specifically how you can help address the employer’s various concerns. There are several other important reasons to investigate the world of work:

  • You’ll obtain realistic and accurate information about different occupations.
  • You’ll have an idea of what educational classes and training to pursue.
  • You’ll gain confidence by becoming familiar with the language and concerns of the world of work — an important quality in any job search.
  • You’ll hear about the “hidden” job market — jobs that are available but have not been advertised.
  • You’ll learn how and where to apply for jobs.
  • You’ll make numerous contacts and when you’re ready to look for work, you’ll know who to call.
  • You’ll identify work industries that interest you and can use your skills.

How to Explore the World of Work CCPG_49 PDF icon

Beginning to explore the opportunities in the vast world of work can be done in a variety of ways. The following pages will provide some detailed examples on how you can complete this task. You’ll be glad to learn there is not one “correct” way to do it. How you begin depends on what you know or don’t know.
Start your exploration of the world of work by looking back at Exercise 5 in this Guide. Using the Holland two or three code assessment tool, look at the list of jobs that you feel best suits you. Pick a few of the jobs that sound most interesting as a starting point.
Now that you know what job or work industry you are going to investigate, you can complete various tasks, and explore many resources available to you.
  • Informational Interviews
  • Job Shadowing
  • Connecting/Networking
  • Library/Online Research
  • School Career Center
  • Newspaper Business Section
  • Business Journals
You may want to invest more time in exploring and experiencing work industries by taking advantage of one of the following:
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
  • Part-time or temporary work
Regardless of where you begin, as you explore, always keep in mind YOUR skills, interests, hobbies, values, and personality preferences.
Helpful Hint: Are the jobs you’re investigating a match for your talents and interests? Get feedback, especially from people working in those jobs, and from people who know you well and who can help you evaluate potential matches objectively.
  • Informational Interviews CCPG_50 PDF icon
  • Job Shadowing CCPG_51 PDF icon
  • Connecting CCPG_52-54 PDF icon
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Connecting

Where to Explore the World of Work CCPG_55-56 PDF icon

The following section offers a variety of places where you can go to get help with your world of work exploration.
  • California One-Stop Career Centers
  • California Community Colleges
  • Public Libraries
  • Professional Career Counselor Services
  • School Career Centers
  • Work Experience Programs

Exploring Online CCPG_57 PDF icon

There are many online resources that will help with career, job, and occupational searches. They include labor market information (e.g., wages, job growth, and decline), training and education providers, increasing employ-ability skills, and so on. Because these resources and their Internet addresses change fairly frequently, please visit the resources section of the California Career Resource Network website (, or the California Career Zone ( At these sites, you will find a comprehensive listing of online resources in an array of related subjects, including:

  • Budgeting and Economics
  • CA Job/Occupation Educators and Trainers
  • Career Counseling
  • Career Development Resources
  • Career Related Associations
  • CDE Career/Work-Related Initiatives
  • Educational Sites
  • Self Assessment
  • Job Listings
  • Job Search Preparation
  • Labor Market Information
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Special Needs
  • Workforce Development

Labor Market Realities CCPG_58-60 PDF icon

Keep the following trends in mind as you search for your next job and consider your career development journey. They will give you perspective and help you make realistic decisions about your future. They can also help with your SWOT analysis described in the next section of this Guide CCPG_65-66 PDF icon
  • Lifelong employ-ability — Strive to be employable—to have the skills that employers value—so you can find work easily even if you get laid off. Don’t expect to have lifelong employment, especially with one company.
  • Diversity — Appreciate and work with cultural differences. Employers value this skill because the labor market has more women, older people and people of different races and ethnic groups than ever before.
  • Computer skills — Develop strong computer skills and up date them regularly. Every industry prefers workers who have these skills.
  • Math, Science, and English — Develop strong math, science, and communication skills. Employers always need people with these skills.
  • Customer service — Always demonstrate a positive, helpful attitude toward customers, supervisors, and coworkers. Employers value good customer service skills because gaining and maintaining customers is crucial, especially in a weak economy.
  • Economic awareness — Pay attention to the local, national, and global market. Jobs are created and destroyed because of technological advances, the economy, and corporate restructuring. Prepare for it.
  • Post high school education — Obtain an education beyond a high school diploma. It’s the number one way to achieve and maintain a middle class lifestyle or,in many cases, to be self-supporting. With an advanced education you will remain employable.
  • Continuous learning — Constantly upgrade your skills. Employers want to know what you’ve learned recently, not what degree you earned ten years ago.
  • Education costs — Find employers who will train you. Since the price of college and technical education will continue to rise faster than inflation, academic help is valuable.

What Do Employers Want from Employees?

Analytical Thinking — The ability to generate and weigh a number of alternative solutions and to make a
sound decision regarding a plan of action.
  • Researching — The ability to search for needed data and to use references to obtain appropriate information.
  • Organizing — The ability to arrange systems and routines to maintain order.
  • Speaking — The ability to express oneself fluently and intelligently.
  • Writing — The ability to use proper spelling and grammar to express ideas.
  • Human Relations and Interpersonal Skills — The ability to relate well to persons from varied backgrounds.
  • Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning — An understanding of the basic concepts and principles of mathematical and scientific processes.
  • Ethical Applications — The ability to apply moral standards and appreciate values in the work setting.
  • Technology Competency — The ability to apply basic principles of technology, including keyboarding and data manipulation.
  • Career Planning — The cultivation of a personal sense of direction and desire for improvement, including a willingness to learn.

Source: Virginia Labor Commission

Education and Training Tends to Pay More and Provide Greater Employment Stability CCPG_60 PDF icon

Unemployment Rate 2006
  • 1.4 Doctorate degree
  • 1.1 Professional degree
  • 1.7 Master’s degree
  • 2.3 Bachelor’s degree
  • 3.0 Associate degree
  • 3.9 Some college, no degree
  • 4.3 High school graduate
  • 6.8 Some high school, no diploma
Median Earnings 2006
  • $74,932 Doctorate degree
  • $76,648 Professional degree
  • $59,280 Master’s degree
  • $50,024 Bachelor’s degree
  • $37,492 Associate degree
  • $35,048 Some college, no degree
  • $30,940 High school graduate
  • $21,788 Some high school, no diploma

Step Two: Summary Worksheet (Page 51, California Career Planning Guide 2nd edition)PDF icon

The Summary Worksheet for Step 2 provides a snap shot of areas for you to explore and gain information about the work industry(s) you may enjoy. As you explore the various ways of investigating the world of work, you may need to create several Summary Worksheets for this step, and refer back to the information often.
  • How will you go about investigating the world of work?
  • Explore the job and labor market?
  • Connect by networking with people?
  • Conduct informational interviews?
  • Volunteer in your spare time?