I’ve had the same career for the past 20 years (if you count my high-school newspaper class) and I still wonder: What else could I do?

If you want ideas, check out the Department of Labor (DOL).Uncle Sam has added a bunch of new job-hunting online tools that are simply amazing. Plus, the Occupational Handbook is handier now with recent improvements. Who knew the government’s web site could be so useful?

So if as a writer I wanted to specialize, the site told me to try blogging, book writing, editing, teaching, public relations and so much more. This is the kind of information all job seekers truly need, and it has never been timelier.

This month, the DOL unveiled my favorite new online tool called My Next Move. The tool is supposed to help jobseekers find – and, more importantly, narrow down – a sea of information on more than 900 occupations, as well as local job openings and training opportunities in a simple, user-friendly format.

My Next Move is supposed to help all workers, but it is really aimed at students, young adults and other first-time workers as they “explore potential careers based on their interests,” according to the Web site. The sister site is “mySkills myFuture” site, which is designed to help those with previous work experience match their existing skills to new occupations. So there is something for everyone: people who are new to the workforce and those with experience. And, in my opinion, if you’re a mom in school, you’ve earned some serious stripes already. And these tools take all of that into account.

“This administration is committed to expanding opportunities for all Americans. That includes ensuring all workers — those with years of experience and those just entering the workforce — have the information they need to make informed career decisions and get good jobs,” said Secretary Hilda Solis in a press release. “By leveraging technology in a user-friendly tool, My Next Move will help those seeking career guidance learn more about work opportunities in fields that are of interest to them and that are likely to have job openings today and well into the future.”

The new website allows users to search for jobs by occupation, by industry (such as information technology, health, public service and more). By adding the “O*NET Interest Profiler,” you can match your passions with the right occupations by answering a huge array of 60 questions.

The site has been using the O*NET since 2001. And if you don’t like doing it all on computer and are more of a paper person, it also a 180-question version of the profiler that could be printed out or downloaded to your home computer (useful if you’re doing a lot of your school work on public computers).  The new, streamlined version is available online for the first time as part of My Next Move.

Here’s another part I like. Users search for jobs in three categories: careers with a “bright outlook” in growing industries, jobs that are part of the “green” economy and occupations that have a Registered Apprenticeship program. This puts you in the driver’s seat as far as finding the position with the best long-term potential. Very nice.

And if you’ve got questions about a particular profession…Each occupation that a user selects has an easy-to-read, one-page profile, including information about what knowledge, skills and abilities are needed; the occupation’s outlook; the level of education required; technologies used within the occupation; and other, similar jobs. So you’ll know right away if you’ve done enough in school – or if you need more credits to make it happen. In addition, each occupation page includes direct links to local salary information, training opportunities and relevant job openings.

How’s that for useful? So get on the site and get looking!

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