Building Information and Contacts for your Job Search
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. It could make the difference between finding a job you love, and grabbing what’s available. 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, organization 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 into 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 organizations.
All this information is available from a wide variety of sources:
You can look up company websites, news and chat groups, professional organization 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.
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 services 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. 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.
What should you do with this information once you have it?
- Use it to strengthen your CV for your application to this company, along with your covering letter and interview preparation:
- Summarize the company’s values in two or three posts that you can match to your own
- List three or four things about them 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 they face 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. Contacts are a source of information, help and support that will stand you in good stead for the whole of your life, 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 contact network is thin, there are plenty of sources for contacts. 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 one day.