Researching Careers: Career Research Checklist

Printer-Friendly Version

by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Are you trying to find some vocational direction for your career? Perhaps a change in careers? Perhaps your first career? It’s critical, at this stage, to conduct research into various careers that interest you. The more research you do, the more likely a career path will become evident to you. What are the best methods for researching careers?

Use our Career Research Checklist

Develop a career plan. Conducting career-related research and gathering information about careers is great, but you should consider developing a career plan. Read more.
Take one or more career assessment tests. If you’re unsure of your career direction, these tests should be one of your first steps in researching careers. Find our recommended list here.
Review books about specific careers. You can find these books online and your local library — or check out our Industry-Specific Career Books.
Read about various occupations and learn about the nature of the work, working conditions, training and educational requirements, earning potential, future job outlook, and more — in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Search the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Talk with your network of contacts — family, friends, professors, teachers, neighbors, peers, colleagues, mentors — about potential careers. Use these Key Career Networking Resources on the Web.
Conduct career research online. Learn more about careers, specific jobs, and jobs for specific college majors by using the key resources in our Career Exploration section.
Explore current job openings. Different companies have different variations of jobs within the same career field. Go to the Quintessential Directory of Company Career Centers and read job descriptions and job requirements of some of the top U.S. employers.
Join a job club. Read more.
Consider volunteering. Read more.
Conduct informational interviews. Not sure how? Use our step-by-step guide: Informational Interviewing Tutorial.
Go to one or more career fairs. Go to: Job Expo and Career Fair Resources.
Visit a local job service office.
Visit your college’s career services office. Whether a current student or an alum, these professionals can help you in many, many ways. Read more.
Arrange to job shadow one or more people who have careers that interest you.
Use the Web to find industry organizations and other key career resources. Simply go to your favorite search engine — ours is — and type in the name of the career and see what results you get.
Find one or more trade journals related to your career choice. Go online — or to your local library — and begin reading trade journals to learn more about your career path, as well as specific employment opportunities.
Locate one or more professional associations related to your career field. There are professional or trade organizations for just about every career field. Use these resources to help you locate a professional organization.
Use some of our key career resources:
  • For career-changers
  • For students trying to decide on a major/career path
  • For general career exploration resources
  • When ready, take the next step with your research. Once you’re done exploring careers, the next step is to begin researching companies and industries. Use our Guide to Researching Companies, Industries, and Countries.

    Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. Founder Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of He is also founder of and He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at) Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

    Have you taken advantage of all of our Career Checklists for Job-Seekers?

    Maximize your career and job-search knowledge and skills! Take advantage of The Quintessential Careers Content Index, which enables site visitors to locate articles, tutorials, quizzes, and worksheets in 35 career, college, job-search topic areas.