How to choose, pay for and enjoy a career

Job seekers: Jump-start your search with these tools

Parents: Build your child's plan for high school, college and work

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[November 26, 2013]  CHICAGO Nearly 4,000 scholarship and financial aid opportunities highlight the Illinois Department of Employment Security's effort to use education and job training to build a better workforce.

Educational attainment is the best predictor of employability. Job training is the key to a skilled and adaptable workforce. IDES' Career Information System is a pathway for both at It offers step-by-step instructions on how to evaluate a career, obtain the education and training needed for that career, and establish a timeline to guide the journey.

"The foundation of success begins with our children in school, where we learn the value of work and the opportunities that work creates. As we grow older, that success teaches us that we can develop new skills and adapt to changes in technology and in the workplace," IDES Director Jay Rowell said. "Learning how to work and how to change builds the highly skilled, adaptable workforce that creates long-term economic growth."

The Career Information System is especially valuable to adults considering a career change; parents introducing elementary students to basic work concepts and expectations; high school students considering college courses and vocational training; and educators guiding students through college testing and career assessments. Specific guidance also is offered for veterans, the disabled and the formerly incarcerated.

One highlight for students is an exercise that begins with the lifestyle they wish to lead and moves backward to identify the wages that would be needed, the jobs that would provide these wages, and the education and training needed to obtain these jobs.

Adults will benefit from assessments that identify occupations that match an individual's interests, skills and preferences. Suggestions on how to build a resume, on interview techniques and tips to be successful in the workplace also are available.

The Career Information System delivers localized occupational and career information in an intuitive, user-friendly online format. It includes tools to learn about occupations, financial aid, apprenticeships, postsecondary schools and colleges. Salary information and job trends are available as well as information on self-employment and how military employment translates into the civilian arena.

Examples of career resources for youth:

  • Student career portfolios. Students can create online portfolios through "My Portfolio." It stores assessment results, career and course plans, and work examples. It also provides a way to create and store resumes.

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  • "Reality Check." This module helps students determine if occupations that interest them pay enough to afford the lifestyle they desire. It starts with the lifestyle and moves backward to identify the wages that would be needed, the jobs that would provide these wages, and the education needed to obtain these jobs. (PDF with more information)

  • "Kids and Careers: How Families Can Help Youth Succeed." This career planning brochure provides parents with important timelines for the career planning process, starting in middle school. It highlights the link between education and earnings.

  • CIS Junior. This career exploration website for middle school and junior high students features an interest survey, an introduction to occupations and tips on which classes will help students reach their career goals.

Examples of career resources for adults:

  • CIS Job Seeker includes the Jobseeker Success Mindset Training modules to help users reduce stress, manage their emotions and reinvigorate their job search.

  • CIS Job Seeker has videos on interviewing do's and don'ts as well as one-minute video clips of 500 occupations.

  • A comprehensive job hunting resource called Career Gateway Job Seekers Guide contains tips on career management, social services, budgeting, setting goals and job hunting. The 90-page downloadable workbook also is available as on online guide. (PDF with more information)

CIS Job Seeker offers:

  • Links to a variety of national job search boards through the "Job Boards and Resources" section.

  • An employer locator with contact information for local and national businesses.

  • A military employment section that helps with the transition from armed services jobs into civilian occupations.

[Text from Illinois Department of Employment Security file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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