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Skill Explorer Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions about the Skill Explorer: the new Wisconsin job search!

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Skill Explorer is a web-based job search tool that lets users look for openings based on skills, not simply job titles. Skill Explorer uses cutting-edge research by DWD’s labor market economists to search through skill sets and find occupations that can span many different industries.

Anyone can use this free, 24-hour research tool from a computer with Internet access. Common users may include:

  • Job seekers, who can enter their skills and find job openings in career fields they may have skills for but have never worked in, or possibly considered. By linking on the job and visiting the hosting site – there are several online job posting sources linked to Skill Explorer – job seekers can explore job postings and apply. Geographic "hot spots" show where numerous job openings are located in the state, as well. Job seekers can also learn more about specific occupations including median wage information, training or education requirements, and the extent of skill overlap between their current and previous jobs and other occupations.
  • Guidance counselors, employment and training experts and even parents of working-age kids, who can help job seekers identify and explore many different occupations, as well as research how closely matched certain skills are with occupations, and what additional training or education is required to become more qualified.
  • Employers, who are in need of workers with certain skills and can hone in on occupations that share those skill sets, and then tailor their recruitment activities accordingly.

Go to Skill Explorer and enter a current or previous job you have had – or any job title you may be interested in – and explore. Information will be provided on occupations that are closely matched to the occupation you entered. You can select an occupation from that list and explore typical tasks, median earnings for Wisconsin, and the skills that are shared and different for the occupation you selected compared to your past or current occupation. Help text can be found in the upper right side of screen for each page that you are on if you have questions.

There are many things that make this tool different. Most importantly it provides information about other occupations that share skills with an occupation a job seeker currently has or has had in the past, broadening the available job postings for the individual. Skill Explorer can make these connections because it uses cutting-edge research by DWD’s own labor market information experts. Our experts have researched and bundled skill sets into specific groups, and then linked these groups with hundreds of occupational titles to identify occupations from any industry that share common skills. This body of research underlies DWD’s Skill Explorer and truly make it the new Wisconsin job search.

Beyond the underlying research, Skill Explorer offers other features that other online job boards or skill search sites do not. Highlights include:

  • Language, graphics and other visuals to present comprehensive information in a way that’s simple and clear.
  • A pool of job postings to choose from that’s pulled from four distinct job sources to maximize the number available to search.
  • A special clickable map that helps highlight concentrated areas of job openings.
  • Licensing and apprenticeship information to help the user determine the types of credentialing required for occupations sharing specific skills.
  • Skills and knowledge data that easily conveys skills that are shared for occupations and the extent of gaps between the occupation you entered with Skill Explorer and a different occupation. This information can be used to determine what skills are needed for you to move into a new, related occupation.

This application is designed to complement existing online job boards and other online employment resources. Skill Explorer is designed to help you identify the skills you have that can help you fill available jobs, including those that may not match your current or former job title(s). Skill Explorer also helps you identify any licensing, certification or educational requirements you may need to complete to better match your individual skill set with those that can lead to new jobs. Additionally, Skill Explorer gives you the ability to click through to specific job postings or access relevant job postings by county.

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) funded development of this site using existing sources. Our labor market information (LMI) experts performed the research and converted the results into a format that can be used for career exploration based on skills. We then enlisted the expertise of an external firm to work with our IT experts and Webmasters to design the actual website. DWD held a series of focus groups before and following the initial development of Skill Explorer to help us make the user’s experience as easy and informative as possible. DWD also worked with an external firm to develop educational materials to spread the word about this great new resource and help guide new users through the Skill Explorer site. The investment in external assistance was approximately $33,000.

Our labor market information (LMI) economists used data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) as a starting point for their research. O*NET is a federally sponsored online resource that’s considered the gold standard of occupational information among states as well as the U.S. Department of Labor. Each O*NET occupational title has underlying knowledge, skills, abilities and work activities.

Our LMI team channeled this O*NET data into a model that measures similarity between occupations based on underlying knowledge, skills, abilities and work activities. We then developed a standard measurement of similarity between occupations and built an index that relates occupations to each other by "closeness" of skill, starting with the most closely linked skills.

Skill Explorer has many features that set it apart from other skills-based online job search tools. Skill Explorer extends and expands the visualization of the data to create a better user experience. In addition, the job openings data in Skill Explorer is more comprehensive as related to Wisconsin. Skill Explorer also puts a premium on user experience to ensure the data is provided in a way that best matches the customers’ needs. Other distinguishing features include:

  • Simple navigation tools, limited drop-down menus and a heat map to geographically identify location preferences.
  • Skill Explorer provides real-time job postings utilizing several job search engines including Job Center of Wisconsin, Help Wanted On-line, America’s Job Bank and the National Labor Exchange (
  • Users explore occupations and job opportunities that DWD research shows have the most closely linked skills.

The job postings that appear on Skill Explorer come from four distinct online resources to maximize the number of postings to choose from:

  • Job Center of Wisconsin (Users MUST be registered to access these postings)
  • National Labor Exchange (
  • America's Job Exchange
  • Help Wanted Online

We encourage you to enter any occupation that you are interested in into the search field at the beginning of Skill Explorer. You may be surprised just how intuitive Skill Explorer can be at linking a single job title to occupations with the most closely linked skills. As you work through Skill Explorer you will be able to choose that occupation and review the typical tasks performed in that role, see a list of job postings for that occupation, locate the concentration of open jobs geographically, and learn about the education level for entry into that field. The information on the typical tasks can show you what additional skills and education you may need to succeed in that new career.

The asterisk appears when content associated with an occupational title was recently updated. It appears because it is part of the underlying database that populates Skill Explorer. It does not mean anything beyond that for the purposes of Skill Explorer.

Skill Explorer exists as an anonymous research tool and does not have a "save" function at this time. We encourage you to register with Job Center of Wisconsin. You can access and save JCW-based job searches as a registered user of Job Center of Wisconsin. Other online job boards or specific job postings have their own rules to access and/or save job postings or searches. As a general rule, we recommend that you print or keep a separate list of any job applications you’ve submitted or are interested in.

Skill Explorer provides general information on the types of skills that are important to the job you’ve entered or selected. selected This information is represented graphically in the "Skill and Knowledge Gaps" section on the Skills & Education tab. While this information does not provide you with direct information on how to get these skills, it does provide you with a starting point for exploring the educational opportunities available in your area.

Like job seekers, employers can use Skill Explorer to identify a larger pool of candidates who may have the skills needed to fill a position within their organization. Employers can simply enter the occupation they are searching for on the Skill Explorer home page. From the skill match results, employers can use closely matched occupation titles to identify a broader pool of candidates. For example, an employer might be looking for a welder, but a metal worker may have enough of the skills that they could be trained to do the welding job. Each situation would need to be evaluated to determine if this met the needs of the company.

Employers can also identify existing job openings for an occupation by geographic concentration and, by gleaning peer information about who’s hiring, how much pay they’re offering, what backgrounds they’re seeking and any other details that appear on specific postings, formulate the content of their own job ad to compete effectively for the best and brightest talent.

Any jobs that are listed on Job Center of Wisconsin require an individual to register with the site, create an account and log in to view. As is a publicly funded and free resource, we require registration to help us fulfill federal reporting mandates on customer use. In addition, registration helps us offer users with information and programs specific to individual needs. More information about Job Center of Wisconsin can be found on their help page.

The job listings that Skill Explorer lead users to are sourced from external websites and, while every effort is made to maintain current information, sometimes a job posting expires or is removed but is not yet expunged from the employer’s website or from the online job board or resource.