Researching Companies and Industries

As you work through your career planning and job-hunting process, there will be many times when you need to research career paths, industries, and even specific jobs and companies. When conducting your research it is important to make sure that you find accurate information and gather it from reputable sources. Here are some tips for finding the best information for your job hunt and how to evaluate sources of information.

Research

Informational Interviews

Probably the best source of information about careers is other people who work in your field. Other professionals know first hand what a job is like. They know industry standards and trends, and they also know what is required to work in the field. They can give you information on what is required from certain jobs. Professionals in your field already know which companies treat employees well and which ones don’t.

By leveraging your existing network, you may find that you already have access to professionals working in your field. Often professors and alumni networks are the best places to find contacts. Don’t hesitate to ask your network for suggestions, and don’t hesitate to make contact when you find a great resource. Set up an informational interview and come prepared with a list of questions you want to ask. You’ll learn more from talking to someone than you will anywhere else.

Professional Organizations and Expert Sites

Most industries will have professional sites and organizations that produce valuable information for their industry every year. Many times, professional organizations compile data on job outlooks, pay, industry trends, and resources. These organizations usually serve as advocates for certain types of workers and can put you in touch with local organizations, as well.

Professional information sites are also great, because they help you stay updated on information specific to your field, such as new technology or practices. Often, experts in your field who don’t mind answering questions will also run these sites, so socially contributing to these sites can be an excellent way to build contacts in your industry.

You can usually find expert sites and professional organizations by searching for industry information on the internet.

Career Resource Centers

Your school’s career resource center will not have a lot of in-depth industry information, but they often have libraries of career resources. The staff is trained to help you find great information, and also maintain professional contacts in many fields in order to better help job seekers. Utilize the knowledge of the staff, since they can help you find the best resources.

Government and Local Resources

Most local and state governments offer resources for job seekers, and so does the federal government. The Better Business Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics are great sources of information in job searches. The BBB provides information on specific companies, while the BLS provides information on trends and job outlooks for various fields.

In addition, many smaller governments have resources to help jobseekers find great jobs in their area. City and county governments also sometimes hold job fairs and networking events that can help you meet local contacts. Search for local government websites and look for calendars of events.

Local Chambers of Commerce are great places to start looking for information on professional networking and to find listings of businesses in your area, usually sorted by industry.

Company Websites

If you know of any major employers in your industry, researching the company on their website can be a great way to find information. You can learn about the mission of companies, keywords and trends, and find out what is required for certain positions by looking at job postings.

Job Hunt and Job Data Sites

While job hunt sites are not always the best source of information on careers, you can definitely find some useful information, such as requirements for specific jobs, the names of employers in your area, and useful contacts. Some job hunt sites are tailored to specific industries, and these usually have links to resources in your field.

Job Data sites, like Glassdoor.com and Salary.com provide information to job seekers, such as pay ranges and interview tips for specific companies. These types of sites are great for getting feedback on what you can expect in a particular industry.

Forums, Blogs, and Social Media

Everything you read online should be weighed for correctness, but as long as you think about where information is coming from, more personal online communication can also give great information. Industry forums and blogs and social media accounts are excellent resources, because people working in your field will post information about all the great and not so great aspects of their jobs without fear of retribution from work. This means that you will get the most honest feedback. You also have to be careful because the information will not necessarily be accurate, or posters may be biased, so take these factors into consideration before relying too heavily on these sites.

General Tips

  • Think about who is posting the information and why. If you can’t figure out who made the post or how he or she is qualified to make claims, find a different source.
  • Find field experts. These are the people generally followed by others in your field.
  • Libraries often have job hunt information as well as books on particular fields. Try to find the most updated versions of books in your local library.
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