Using the DOL’s Occupational Outlook Handbook to Help your Job Search

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Hand writing in open book The Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is a treasure of useful information that can help guide the development of your career path. But most people don’t even know this resource exists. Contained within the OOH are rich descriptions of nearly 300 jobs in the U.S. market, which discuss the type of work, work environment, and outlook for each position through 2018. The handbook also offers information regarding required education and training necessary for pursuing each career path.

Consider these tips when using the OOH in order to maximize its effectiveness in helping you get ahead in the job market :

  • Use the handbook to identify the exact skills you will need in order to pursue jobs that will interest you. If you already possess the listed skills, emphasize them on your resume and focus most of your efforts on playing up these skills during interviews.
  • The book can be used as a tool to find descriptions of previous jobs so that you can not only find transferable skills you’ve obtained from these jobs, but also discover the jobs for which these skills are relevant. This can be an excellent tool for finding jobs that may at first appear unrelated to previous experience but, in actuality, share skills transferable with prior jobs you’ve held.
  • The OOH is one of the premier resources for identifying related job opportunities. Each of the major jobs listed in the OOH have a comprehensive list of related-jobs that require identical (or closely related) skills sets and qualifications. Additionally, the handbook shares information on jobs that may be obtained through promotions and job experience. And given the organization of the book, similar jobs are clustered
    together making it easy to browse similar jobs with minimal searching.
  • Though salary requirements are never recommended to be included in a resume, this information can be a useful starting point for developing your negotiation strategy. The OOH offers information regarding expected pay ranges for similar jobs and the current
    trends that will potentially affect these jobs in the future. However, it is important to understand that local salary averages can vary greatly from the national averages provided in the OOH.
  • Once you’ve narrowed down your list of interesting jobs, the OOH helps lead you to additional resources such as cross-referencing material, professional associations, and websites.

The OOH is easily accessible online at the United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics website Additional local salary information may be found at

By Joshua Bjerke