SUPERCHARGE YOUR JOB SEARCH Part 2: Job market research
Want to find your ideal job? Need to be able to prepare an excellent CV, answer tough interview questions and impress prospective employers? Lynn Williams, author of Ultimate Job Search, is on hand some more useful advice to power up your job search …
A ‘one-stop shop’ for all job hunters, the new 5th edition of Ultimate Job Search aims to take the stress out of what can be a daunting process, providing advice at every stage of the process, from preparing a powerful CV that will get you noticed, via sample cover letters and emails that come across as genuine, and making a great impression at interviews, to dealing with offers and rejection in a positive manner.
Part of the best-selling Ultimate series published by Kogan Page, the guidance in this book will help you to shine and demonstrate to future employers that you’re the person for the job. With an exhaustive breadth of detail and real-life up-to-date comments from employers and recruitment professionals, Ultimate Job Search is invaluable to anyone looking to get their dream job at any stage of their career.
In this second part of our series, we’re pleased to present another extract from the new edition. If you like what you read, find out below how to order a copy … with a special discount for QUEST readers!
Job market research
Job market research is vital to job hunting. The better informed you are, the more likely you are to pick up on opportunities and openings. The two key things you need are information and contacts.
Information helps you build the bigger picture, increases your confidence and helps you to be in the right place at the right time. It could make the difference between finding a job you love and grabbing what’s available. It will help you find out who to contact, how to contact them and what to say, as well as what to put in your CV and letters, and what to include at the interview.
Useful information includes:
- what’s happening in your field of work, what’s changing in that field
- what’s new, what’s coming in the future
- companies who need what you do – who they are, their background, structure, organisation and reputation
- what they do (is it the same as you have always done or are there differences?)
- where they are heading, what’s new for them
- who’s moving in to the area, geographically or figuratively
- who’s expanding, who’s getting new contracts, who’s launching new products, and so on
- the key people to contact in these organisations.
All this information is available from a wide variety of sources …
You can look up company websites, news and chat groups, professional organisation and society websites, college and university careers pages, career guidance sites and recruitment agency sites. These will give you detailed information as well as background data, for both your own country and abroad. They might also provide useful links to other sites you may not have considered. Career guidance and recruitment sites might have, or link you to, information about labour market trends, employment profiles, recruitment events, and so on. It’s worth Googling the name of a company or a job title and seeing what comes up.
Local newspapers, national newspapers and business magazines
These carry features on businesses – who’s moving into the area, the local and national economy in general, business reports and profiles, product and service launches, exhibitions and job fairs, open days, local and national promotions, community issues, company relocations and expansions, building and site development, and ‘day in the life’ features.
Recruitment pages and websites
These can give you a feel for who’s hiring and who’s firing, who’s opening new departments, which jobs are in demand, what sort of skills and experience are being asked for, what sort of salaries are being offered, and which company names crop up again and again.
Trade journals, company newsletters, annual reports and financial reports
Virtually every type of job has its own newspaper or journal that will tell you what is happening. Many of them also include recruitment pages or will point you towards the recruitment sites commonly used by your profession of interest. Company newsletters and annual reports will give you more specific information about companies. You can either see them on the company website or obtain them from the company by writing or phoning.
Trade and business directories will give you information about specific companies, from their name and address to the number of people they employ. There are also directories that will tell you about professional or trade associations, and trade-related journals and publications.
One of the best places to start looking for information is your public library. Here you can get internet access, and find many of the directories, journals and other publications mentioned above. It should also be able to help you find out about professional associations and other organisations that will be useful to you.
What should you do with all this research once you have it?
Use it to strengthen your CV, covering letter and interview preparation, as follows.
- Summarise the company’s values in two or three points that you can match to your own.
- List three or four things about it that you are enthusiastic about, and can mention in your CV, letter and interview.
- List three or four positive points about the company and its place in the market that you can reference in your letter and interview.
- Identify the main problems and opportunities it faces in the future, and suggest how your skills and experience could make a contribution.
The more people you contact, the more likely you are to find a job. Even if people can’t help you directly, they will often put you in touch with someone who can, and they will help you build a more comprehensive picture of what’s happening. It’s worth spending time building contacts. They are a source of information, help and support that will stand you in good stead for the whole of your life in one way or another. Think creatively about how you can build your network, both online and in the real world – you’ll need to do both to get the maximum effect.
Networking can be casual, but for your job search you need to be more systematic.
- Research sources of contacts and keep detailed notes.
- Set yourself a target number of people to get in touch with each week or month.
- Keep a record of who you’ve contacted: names, addresses and helpful information.
- Ask all those you contact if they know anyone else you could speak to.
Even if you feel your current network is thin, there are plenty of sources of contacts …
People are a very good source of contacts simply because people know other people. If you can’t contact someone direct, see if they are approachable on social media. Don’t dismiss anyone. Even if someone can’t help directly, he or she might know someone who can. Include:
- friends and family, the people who are around you most
- people you were at school or college with, including lecturers and other staff
- old colleagues and previous employer
- business contacts, including suppliers and clients
- people who contact other businesses through their job, such as solicitors, accountants and anyone who offers business services
- people you meet at interviews, people you meet visiting companies
- people you meet at trade fairs and open days
- people you meet on training courses.
Organisations and associations are a ready-made network and a way to get to know people you might not meet through social contacts. The sorts of organisations, both online and in the real world, that could be helpful include:
- social media sites specifically designed to bring professional colleagues into contact, such as LinkedIn
- professional associations and trade associations
- trades unions, chartered institutes
- community organisations
- special interest groups, such as women in business, graduate associations, Asian business networks, and so on
- social and leisure groups – health clubs, sports teams, arts groups, and so on
- voluntary organisations and local action groups.
Events are good places to meet people. Make sure you get names and contact details or business cards. You can build good job search contacts at:
- business conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions, employment fairs, company social events
- professional association events, union events
- training courses, conferences and seminars, promotional events,
- open days.
Also contact any company doing the sort of work you want to do. Don’t just ask about current vacancies, talk to the staff about:
- the sorts of positions and opportunities available in the company
- what they foresee coming up in the future, both for themselves and for the sector in general
- the general direction the industry is headed in
- the company’s own development.
Keeping an active network increases your awareness of what opportunities are available; it’s like adding extra pairs of eyes and ears. Getting to know people means they get to know you, too. Networking involves telling people about yourself, increasing your visibility and getting your name and face known. It’s also about giving as well as taking, and it’s a favour you’ll be able to repay some day.
Get your copy! Special offer for Quest readers
Get invaluable advice on networking, CVs, cover letters, interviews, aptitude and personality tests, offers, rejections and follow-up letters with Ultimate Job Search by Lynn Williams, published by Kogan Page, price £14.99
Use the discount code QUEST20 for 20% off the book when buying direct from the publisher, as well as free delivery to the UK and USA. Find out more at www.koganpage.com/UltimateJobSearch
ABOUT THE SERIES
The Ultimate series contains practical advice on essential job search skills to give you the best chance of getting the job you want. Taking you all the way from starting your job search to completing an interview, it includes guidance on CV or résumé and cover letter writing, practice questions for passing aptitude, psychometric and other employment tests, and reliable advice for interviews.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lynn Williams is a career counsellor and trainer who runs workshops on CV writing and interview techniques, and writes regularly on job search and career issues. She is author of bestselling titles Ultimate Interview, Readymade CV and Readymade Job Search Letters (all published by Kogan Page).