How to Research Careers

Whether you have an idea for what type of career you want, or several, you will need to do research to figure out what the next steps in your career will be. Research allows you to figure out what different jobs are like, and, once you’ve chosen one, what types of certifications, degrees, and experience will help you get that job.

Career Blackboard

It is never too early to start researching careers, since what you learn can help you make decisions about what type of college to go to, what to major in, and where to get internships. Even if you are already in school or out of college, you should start as soon as possible to help you make a plan. By starting your research early, you can save yourself stress later, such as when you didn’t know about a certification you need for a job when you are ready to apply for it. By learning about your industry, you can also formulate a custom plan that will help guide you in different phases of your career. So where do you find information? There are many different sources, but here are some of the most common:

Career Centers

Your college’s career resource center is one of the best resources available on job hunting and career research. The staff members working in these centers are experts, and they can help you create a career plan, find resources in your field, build an appropriate resume, and help you find a job or internship. Career centers are also great when you do not know what kind of job you want. Many schools offer career counseling and resources, such as tests that measure your interests and personality and help give you suggestions based of the results. Many schools also have information pages about how you can use various majors and industry specific links and books to help you plan your future.

Don’t just limit yourself to your own school’s page. Many other universities and colleges have links to various sites that offer free information, so do a web search and look at all the resources available.

Resources:

Government and Public Resources

The federal government, as well as many local governments and public organizations, offer free career advice on a variety of websites ranging from job hunting, to career planning, and occupational outlook guides to highlight industry trends. Additionally, offices like your local Chamber of Commerce provide listings of businesses in various sectors of the local economy, so that you can find companies that employ workers in your field.

Resources:

  • Chamber of Commerce – Look at your local Chamber of Commerce website to find local resources, professional organizations, and events.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics – This federal government site provides statistics on various careers. This can be an excellent tool for planning a career path, since it lists sectors with increasing economic growth and what the projected outlook is for various fields.
  • Mynextmove allows you to research industries or specific job titles and lets you see what career paths for that job look like. It shows you necessary skills and certifications, and also gives you further resources to review. This helps you plan where you want to be in the future and how to get there.
  • The library – Many cities have job resources like postings, brochures, and informational guides at each branch. Check your local library for more information.
  • Industry-Specific Resources

    Most industries have specific sites, books, and other resources for job seekers. You will have to do research in your field to learn what they are, but most industries have professional organizations that can provide you with a list of resources. These organizations sometimes require fees for services.

    Most industries have specific websites for job postings, as well, like journalismjobs.com for journalism or higheredjobs.com for college-level education jobs.

    Your Network

    Your network can provide you with tons of information and feedback on specific industries. Look at social media sites, especially LinkedIn, to find people you know who work in the industry you are researching. You may also want to reach out to family friends and acquaintances with questions and for informational interviews.

    Informational interviews are one of the best ways to gather information about specific fields and career plans. Utilize your network to contact local professionals in your field, and try to set up time to speak with them. People already doing the job you want can answer more questions than anyone else can, because they can help you see exactly what a day in the job is like. They may have information about the lifestyle required by your job, pay, certifications, and other factors that you might not get elsewhere.

    Remember that your professors count as professionals in your field, and they can help you decide how to plan your career. They also normally have contacts in the field, and they may help you find other professionals to add to your network. Your school probably also has an alumni network that may be valuable in finding others who work in your field.

    Company Websites

    The websites of companies employing professionals in your industry can be great resources for information on your field. While they may not list the specific requirements for jobs, you might find lists of executives at companies along with their job history. Looking at their career paths may give you some ideas of what a typical career path in your industry looks like. You might also find descriptions of what these companies do, press releases about the industry, and information about company culture. Many large companies have career search pages that can give you information about internships and training programs, which are often great starting points for careers.

    Job Postings

    While you may not find out what a job is really like, looking at job postings in your field can give you plenty of information. For example, if you search for a job in your area and get no results, you may learn that there are not jobs in your industry where you live. This can help you plan to move in the future, or choose another path if staying near home is important to you. You can review qualifications and job descriptions to learn about duties and necessary experience. These postings will also help you find companies that hire professionals in your field, so that you can expand your research.

    Resources:

    • Industry specific job boards are often helpful for this type of information.
    • General job boards, like indeed.com, monster.com, and simply hired can be useful resources.
    • Check local newspapers or their websites for classified listings.
    • Look at company job postings if you know of a local employer

    Web Searches

    Of course, web searches are one of the easiest, fastest, and most used methods of researching careers. Search for you industry or job title along with various phrases, like “certifications” or “lifestyle” to learn about career paths. You might find blogs written by professionals in your field, which can give you an insider perspective on jobs in your industry, as well as information on how to get into the industry.

    As a word of caution, you need to be careful in your web searches, since the information you find may be outdated or compiled by someone that does not work in the field. Make sure to check where information is coming from and that it is up to date.

Peggy Carouthers

Author: Peggy Carouthers

In a previous life Peggy worked as a human resources and hiring manager for a major national retail chain. Her expertise is in job hunting, hiring, and HR. These days Peggy works as a writer, crafting content for a range of publications.
Peggy Carouthers