Job Progression Tool:
Bringing job insights to the front line

The Job Progression Tool, developed by McKinsey & Company on behalf of the Rework America Alliance, is a digital solution for job coaches and career navigators for supporting job seekers in the United States without a four-year college degree. It is meant to enable job seekers to consider employment options that could advance their economic prospects and that others have accessed in the past, based on the value of their work experience.

The tool was built in close collaboration with dozens of coaches and navigators and reflects the realities of their day-to-day work with job seekers. It is based on a custom analytical model that uses real historical data on four million job transitions1, to identify job progressions—that is, moves from lower-wage jobs to more resilient, in-demand, higher-wage occupations2—that real people have made in the past, largely by virtue of the skills they have built through experience.

The highlighted occupations and all the accompanying results use national data. Transitions, skill, and income data were provided by EMSI. Other data came from Burning Glass Technologies (on barriers and requirements), McKinsey Global Institute (on risk and, with Oxford Economics, on demand), and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (on unemployment).3

Request access to a beta version of the tool to see additional details.


Visualize the steps to a brighter future

To explore a brighter future by looking at historical transition data on where people have moved, enter a recent occupation. “Next” occupations offer middle-to-high incomes and, often, an opportunity to build skills. “Target” occupations offer income uplift as well as a lower risk of displacement by automation or offshoring, based on an analysis by McKinsey Global Institute.4

“I will appreciate being able to branch out and say, ‘Here are all the good next-step jobs. Here are the best-outcome jobs to go from here. You can go further and further.’”Indiana career coach

RAA Visualize the steps to a brighter future
RAA Explore common transitions

Explore common transitions

Identify alternative options based not only on economically upward job transitions but also on the historically most common transitions from a given occupation, whether or not it provides income uplift.

“It’s helpful to show both aspirational and more common transitions. One person may want to work with computers, but for another person in the same role it might be too big a leap.” —Wisconsin career coach

Address barriers and promote equity

Distinguish occupations that may be able to overcome common barriers, such as background checks, flexible hours, English proficiency, and certification requirements.5

“I like the ability to identify [openness to] flexible hours. A lot of our students do need that. It’s something they are scared to ask for.”Wisconsin career coach

RAA Address barriers and promote equity
RAA Review a snapshot of an opportunity

Review a snapshot of an opportunity

Receive an overview of a ‘Next’ or ‘Target’ occupation, including its description and national salary, and its potential 12-month and 3-to-4-year demand (based on analysis developed by McKinsey Global Institute and Oxford Economics).

“Once you click on the job, this puts it together really well. It gives them a nugget of information of what that job entails, to entice people.”Indiana career coach

Discover skill overlaps and gaps

Compare a recent occupation with an occupation of interest to view common skill overlaps and potential skills needed to transition, based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics skills data.

“It identifies skills they might not realize they have that are needed for the next role, beyond friendliness and passion.”Indiana career coach

RAA Discover skill overlaps and gaps
RAA Review local job openings

Review local job openings

Search by recommended job titles on Indeed, LinkedIn, and Google for Jobs to view locally available openings and to apply for jobs.6

“One thing missing in our existing tools was a link to job boards. Google for Jobs, Indeed, and LinkedIn are great ones to start out with.”Illinois career coach

Tailor a resume

Use access tools provided by the Rework America Alliance to tailor resumes to specific skills that an occupation requires.

“Career seekers cross jobs off the list or don’t apply for a very nice match due to fear or intimidation because of a resume.” —Indiana career coach

RAA Tailor a resume

Access a live version of the tool


1 Data pulled from EMSI in 2020 indicate individuals’ historical transitions between occupations, based on four million individuals who do not have four-year degrees. Shows only occupation transitions made by more than 50 individuals (Large enough sample rule).

2 Recent occupations: Filtered by low-wage incomes (defined here as less than the national individual median income, approximately $38,000) and mid-wage incomes ($38,000–$42,000) and occupations that have at least one “next” or “target” occupation. Income thresholds for workers without a four-year degree were triangulated from national data, based on organization analysis using data from EMSI, the McKinsey Global Institute, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Next-step occupations: Occupations that have middle-to-high incomes ($42,000 and higher); in which historically at least 25 percent of the employed do not have a bachelor’s degree; >33 percent proportion of transitions from origins; <=33 percent of proportion of transitions to targets; and are not in O*NET job category 5, which refers to occupations that require graduate school.

Target occupations: Occupations that have middle-to-high incomes ($42,000 and higher), Small, very low, or in-demand risk of long-term automation or offshoring (McKinsey Global Institute’s “jobs at risk” score), more than 10 percent employed historically without a bachelor’s degree, and not in O*NET job category 5, which refers to occupations that require graduate school.

3 Burning Glass Technologies: data were pulled from job postings from 2015 to 2019 and include data and analysis for occupational fit for criminal record, certifications, flexible hours, and English-language learners.

EMSI: data were pulled in 2020 and include transition likelihood, occupation title name, nation median salary, salary range, number of unemployed without a bachelor’s degree, and skills by occupation.

McKinsey Global Institute: Data were pulled in 2020 and include 12-month and 3.5-year demand outlook (based on the A1 scenario for the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis) developed together with Oxford Economics; risk of automation or offshoring; and occupational groupings.

U.S. Department of Labor (O*NET & Census Bureau CPS): Data were pulled in 2020 and include occupation descriptions, skills, and related job titles. Where applicable, we shortened some occupation titles and modified generic descriptions of occupations.

4 The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow (McKinsey Global Institute).

5 “Certifications may be required”: includes occupations for which more than 40 percent of job postings from 2015 to 2019 requested a nondegree certification, certificate, or license, as analyzed by Burning Glass Technologies.

“May be open to English-language learners”: based on O*NET combined score of importance of English language (knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation) and score of English importance (in general, the significance and importance of knowing English for the job) where the score is less than 55.

“May have flexible hours”: based on Burning Glass Technologies’ job-posting data from 2015 to 2019 for which more than 10 percent advertise part-time work or the O*NET score for work schedule (description of the role that time plays in the way the worker performs the tasks required by the job and how regular the work schedule is) is more than 1.5.

“May not require a background check”: based on Burning Glass Technologies’ job-posting data from 2015 to 2019 where less than 20 percent of job postings advertise background checks or are not healthcare jobs as designated by McKinsey Global Institute categories.

6 The three linked job boards provide a comprehensive view of national job postings. They were selected from more than ten job boards for their comprehensiveness, relevance, fit to target population, and quantity of users. Contact the Rework America Alliance for detailed selection criteria and for additional job boards to be considered in the next iteration of this tool. Google for Jobs and LinkedIn (which is affiliated with Microsoft) are members of the Alliance.

Disclaimer: Occupations in “Bringing job progression insights to the front line” reflect occupations into which individuals have moved in the past. The past is not a predictor of future events or future hiring demand. In some cases, relatively few (1 to 5 percent) individuals have made such a transition. Moreover, occupations may require training, and making a transition may not make sense for every job seeker. In addition, regional differences may affect the availability and feasibility of transitions. This tool does not guarantee that an employer will be hiring for a specific occupation in a geography. This tool is provided “as is,” solely for informational purposes and is designed to be used with a career coach or navigator to interpret the content. Demand data were pulled December 2020; medium-term demand data expires December 2021 and long-term demand data expires June 2023.

The contents of this site, including any statements, articles, graphics, charts, checklists, and other materials (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or constitute medical advice. This content was previously posted on McKinsey’s COVID Response Center and is subject to our commitment to the Open Covid Pledge under these Terms of Use.