Research to Make an Informed Career Decision
My job search really started my sophomore year when I got involved on campus in my college, attending expos and career fairs, interviewing for internships, meeting recruiters and alumni. I invested an incredible amount of time into researching and investigating different companies and industries, and I changed my mind hundreds of times.
The most important thing you can do for yourself during your job search and your time in college is think about what you want. I spent a lot of time thinking about who I wanted to be and I fueled my interest with research by interviewing recruiters, alumni, professors, professionals in my field, and my family.
The hardest part of putting together a strong future for yourself is not getting the interview or landing the job- that part is easy if you follow the tips in this blog. The hardest part of getting what you want is deciding what you want. To be successful you have to know yourself, and it’s not as easy at it sounds.
Deciding what you want is a moving target. Imagine how many times you switched majors. For me, I changed from Editing and Media, to Hospitality Management, to Literature, and even tried Chinese for a while. No one expects you to know exactly what you want to be when you grow up at 20 something. But there are a few things you can do to narrow your search and find your passion.
Read all the time
Read constantly. Not the great American novel, but trade articles. Subscribe to some newsletters or magazines, join a group on LinkedIn and post in discussions, find forums and blogs that interest you. By reading up on industries that interest you through research, you will be able to create a better picture of yourself working in that industry, or not. Learn about the challenges and advantages of different positions so you can visualize if it will be the right place for you. The more information you collect the better a picture you can create of what your life would be like working in a particular industry or job, and you can determine if it is the life you want, or not.
While I was researching I would use academic databases like Hoover’s Academic and LexisNexis to read up on different companies. I wanted to know things like the cities where the company offices were located, (sometimes I would cross reference a few cities with the US Census to determine population growth, crime, and average income), number of employees, public or private, competitors, and press releases. I did extensive research on every company I talked to. Finally I found a site called Glassdoor.com that I fell in love with. On Glassdoor I could look up company reviews from current and former employees. You can compare salaries by position, location, and experience, look up interview questions and answers, and employee reviews all on one site.
In my Google Docs I created charts to record the things I had learned about each company, pros and cons of each position. Often I would check to see if they had a Facebook page or Twitter that I would then follow to get updates, and on the company website I would always read the recent press releases. This helped me get a better idea of the company culture and also made me an impressive candidate when I could reference their recent community service project or company picnic.
(I will again be the first to admit that I am kindof a stalker. For one company I interviewed with they had created a 12 days of Christmas video on You-Tube but each day was a different feature of their new product line. I referenced the internal staff video and my interviewer was both impressed and surprised.)