Researching the employment market: five steps to finding the right job

Get some advice on finding the right role for you as well as ways in which you can network effectively and increase your chances of a successful application, in this extract from Get That Job: CVs and Resumes

To find the right job and present yourself in the best possible light at interview, you’ll need to research industry trends and find out as much as you can about the companies you want to work for.

Step one: do the research

In the early stages of your research, you should begin by researching industry trends.

In a nutshell, you need to look out for:

  • Major growth areas
  • Major and up-and-coming players
  • Key challenges, opportunities, or potential problems for a given industry

If you are not sure which industry you want to work in, there are several good references and reports on attractive jobs and desirable companies. For example, look at the Financial Times website which provides well-organised information about trends in various business sectors. The Economist website contains extensive articles on business worldwide.

Look also at the websites of the top Business Schools – these give guidance on where to go and which directories to look at.

Step two: go from a macro to micro level

A: Research your chosen companies

The next step is to narrow your research by gathering information about the companies you would like to work for.

Aim to find out:

  • The size of the organisation (sales, profits, market share, numbers of employees)
  • Its mission statement
  • The company’s strong and weak points
  • Its key partners
  • Its key competitors
  • Information about the organisational culture
  • How the company is organised
  • Its key strategic challenges
  • The subject of recent press releases

Also, use social media and networking sites, like LinkedIn, to learn as much as you can about the company, the sort of culture they have and the type of opportunities they offer.

B: Speak to current employees

Once upon a time, the only way to talk to someone at a company that interested you would be if you had a direct connection with it, via family, friends or location. The internet has made it possible to do this from the other side of the globe, knowing no one, if necessary. Use social media and networking sites, such as LinkedIn, MeetUp and Xing, to find people who work at the company, tell them you are interested in working at the same place, and ask them if they’d be happy to have a quick chat over email or social media.

Also, get in the habit of telling everyone you know what sort of work and/or opportunity you are looking for, and ask them if they can help. It’s really important, in a job search, to seek out any connection you can find and it’s often surprising how easy it can be to have a chat with someone helpful. Be prepared, of course, to do the same for them when necessary.

Step three: think about the job you want

When you are looking for a specific job in a specific company you will want to know:

  • What qualifications are needed?
  • What would my tasks and responsibilities be?
  • What is the typical salary for a job like this?

If you can gather information ahead of time, you will be better prepared for your covering letter, your CV, and your interview. If the job has been advertised, then the tasks and responsibilities will have been listed. If you know for sure that there is a job opening, ask the company to send you a copy of the job description.

Step four: make the most of everything available

A: Job alerts

Many recruitment agencies or career-related websites offer an online service to both job hunters and companies trying to fill a vacancy. For job hunters, registering your CV online is a quick and easy process, and means that should an interesting vacancy arise, you can ask the agency to submit your CV quickly.

In addition, take advantage of email job alerts, in which agencies or career websites email you when a job that meets your specifications comes on the market. This is another quick and easy way to keep on top of job opportunities in your particular market.

B: Network

Networking is one of the best ways of getting a new job and finding out about potential openings. The internet has revolutionised the way that people can keep in touch with each other, and one of the simplest ways to use it for networking is to email people on your contact list.

You can ask them about industry trends, potential job openings, or for specific contacts within an organisation. Other ways of networking on the web include:

As with all other types of networking, though, remember to:

  • Thank people for their time and help when they get back to you
  • Offer your help to other people as much as you possibly can
  • Be patient

Step five: be organised

Create your own database of organisations you are targeting and keep track of information you have gathered about each. Record any job-search actions you take for each organisation, such as dates of letters and CVs you have sent, what form of CV you used, dates of phone calls, and who you spoke to and what was said.

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One common mistake to watch for is to ensure that your research is not patchy. If you don’t thoroughly research the industry, the company, and the job, gaps in your knowledge may jeopardise your chances at an interview. If you can demonstrate that you have done your homework, you will stand out from the crowd and will have a better chance of being offered the job.

This is an edited extract from Get That Job: CVs and Resumes – how to make sure you stand out from the crowd (Bloomsbury Business, 2022).

BGA members can enjoy a 30% discount off the RRP for Get That Job: CVs and Resumes. Click here for details.

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