Dear Matt: I was recently laid off from a job that won't exist in the future and I have no idea what I want to do. How can I find a career that I will enjoy and succeed at and one where I can make a decent living?

Matt: I agree with Denise Felder, editor of MnCareers (www.iseek.org/mncareers), an annual career and education planning guide for people of all ages, who says finding a job you will enjoy depends on your interest, skills and other aptitudes.

What do you like doing? What do you want to do? What intrigues you that you would like to know more about?

Taking a skills assessment can help create a path and understand what skills or career to pursue, says Cindy Edwards, a Twin Cities-based career development coach (www.tofindyourfit.com). Start with a career self-assessment process using tools that identify personal characteristics and strengths and correlate occupational listings. The MBTI assessment (Myer's Briggs) does this well, especially if the user requests a career report or takes step II of the assessment. Occupational information from the MBTI results link to a resource called O*NET (online.onetcenter.org), which then provides occupational data related to your responses. Most college career development service centers offer the MBTI assessment to alumni for a minimum charge and the Basilica of St. Mary Employment Ministry is offering this assessment in a workshop on August 4th (call 612.317.3508 for more info).

Edwards and Felder both reference a number of other free assessment tools at iseek.org and careeronestop.org. The assessment results link directly to occupations. The discovered occupations can then be researched on these sites under the explore careers sections. You can also search correlating occupational data such as salary requirements, labor industry trend data and educational requirements.

Once you find a career path you are interested in, try and find a professional in that field who you can meet with to discuss the career further to find out any hidden mysteries of the profession that assessments and tests don't tell you. It might also be wise to consider finding an accountability partner or career coach to help you apply what you have discovered.

"Gathering the data is sometimes the easy part, applying what you've learned to obtain a new career is often where people fall short and give up," says Edwards.

Additional Resources:

Growing Careers in Minnesota

www.iseek.org/careers/indemand.html

High-Paying Careers with the most openings

www.iseek.org/careers/highpaydemand

Take a skills or interest assessment:

www.iseek.org/jobs/joblossskills.html

Tips for switching careers after a job loss:

www.iseek.org/jobs/joblosscareers.html


Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. This column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to askmatt@startribune.com.