Since your career is an important part of your life and where you spend a large amount of your time, it makes sense to conduct career research effectively. A strategic plan will help you to get an accurate view of where you are today, where you want to be, and the gaps. It will help you make informed decisions about your career. Do the career research and exploration before making a decision. The following strategies can be helpful to individuals within an organization and individuals that are outside.
Identify Research Objectives Before You Begin
- Why are you doing the research in the first place?
- What information are you looking for and why?
- What specific information are you researching for? Is it about the qualifications, skills or experience?
- What other career related areas do you need to find out about?
- What is the timeline for you research?
Establish Data Collection Method
There are many different ways of conducting career research. A well thought through research plan will produce better and higher quality results which will in turn lead to a better career decisions. There are three broad categories: on-line research, off-line research and real-time research.
On-line Research Options
On-line career research is so abundant and transparent which is why this research option is an essential starting point.
Industry bodies/sectors – Most industries are grouped into industry sectors and industry bodies such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, financial services, etc. You can collect companies in that sector.
Companies – Almost every company today has an on-line presence. You can either enter their website address directly or search for them using a search engine. Once you get to their website there is a lot of information you can collect about the company even before you have interacted with them.
eZines and Blogs – eZines are on-line magazine and blogs are line on-line journals which contain a lot of valuable and insightful information. You will find them on virtually every topic under the sun and can search for them in eZine and blog search engines.
Career and company guides – They contain valuable information about particular careers, professions and companies. They are usually written by industry insiders and people who have worked at or know about certain companies. A very good career research resource.
Career assessments and inventories – They go almost hand in hand with career development and help you find out more about yourself, your interests, your personality and the type of careers that will best suit you. They may not give you all the answers by they do give additional information which will help you make better career decisions.
Specific recruitment and job sites – There are many specialized recruitment sites and recruitment companies these days that cater to certain industry sectors. They often contain good and up to date information on that industry sector and are a good resource for your career research.
Off-line Research Options
Career conversations – Are discussions or conversations you have with others about your career. They can include your immediate manager and / or senior leaders. If you are an internal, peers and colleagues can also be great resources for researching.
Human Resources Department – Most employers have a department of people or at least one person in this area. They have a good idea about the department, or particular job in that department and it is useful to talk to them. They are a good source of data usually at a high level and may also give you some interesting insights which will help you in your career research.
Career Coaches – Career Coaches have access to a wide range of career information. As a resource they can refer you to credible sources of information and help you make sense of the information you obtain. Career Coaches can guide you to ensure you are collecting reliable and current.
Books and Journals – There are many books and journals available as a resource for you. It is useful to refer to them and you may pick up some good ideas or tips that will help you in your development.
Career and Job Fairs – Fairs are common and they can be industry specific, company specific or even specific to a certain level in your career. Fairs are a great place to build contacts, interview representatives in various professional fields and provide employer information. Fairs are a great place to network.
Real Time Research Options
Real time career research is like getting a sneak preview of your job or profession. It is the closest to getting a taste of what it might be like before you make the move. Combining one or a combination of the following will be informative:
Shadowing – This is where you are with the person who is actually doing the job or similar job/career you are interested in. You spend a few hours to several days with this person and follow them in their daily activities.
A day or week in the real role – This is taking shadowing to the next level. You set it up in such a way that you are paired up with someone but this time you actually get to perform in the role under the guidance of the more experienced person. This is the closest you will get to do the real job.
Taking on cross-department assignments – If you are looking at changing your career then this is a good way of getting your feel wet. You are still in your present job/profession buy you carry out a task or project that requires working closely with a person/team from another are/department. You then get to experience at close hand what it takes to work in that area/department.
Develop Your Career Research Plan
By now you should have a very good idea of the different types of research you should undertake. Look at your career objectives and gaps and develop a good research plan and ensure it is aligned with your career development plan.
Adapted from: Career Change Mentor