Creative Job Search
On-line Job Search Guide

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Research

Paper.gif - 3.7 K Another important part of your preparation is research. When some people hear the word "research" they have visions of a mad scientist surrounded by test tubes, microscopes, and Bunsen burners. Others might think of endless trips to the library where they have to read stacks of musty books. Please don't panic. The type of research needed in the job search is not what you might think. Why do research at all? When you research an industry, company, or occupation, you gain the information you need to make a good decision about the direction of your job search. You get to decide whether to apply for a job at a specific company based on facts, not on feelings. You are in control. The information you gain while conducting this research will also impress the prospective employer during the interview. It says you are serious about your job search. Research can be done on occupations, industries, individual companies, availability of jobs in your area, and on other topics.

Research does not have to be time consuming. You don't have to check out 25 books from a library. Research can be as simple as looking at newspaper employment ads. Newspaper ads can be a good resource for discovering what experience, training, and knowledge are required by a variety of employers. You can measure your qualifications against those required by the employer. Do you need to get more training in a certain area? Does your resume cover the qualifications most requested by the employer?

Research Strategies

Labor Market Survey

A labor market survey is conducted in a series of short informational interviews over the telephone. The purpose of the survey is to figure out if an occupation or specific line of work is appropriate for you. You will want to find out about:

Talking with people currently working in the occupation you are interested in is one way of getting up-to-date information about this occupation.

You can do a labor market survey with three basic tools:

You will need to have a clear idea of the specific occupation or line of work that interests you. You can clarify an occupational definition by consulting the Dictionary of Occupational Titles or other reference books available at Minnesota Workforce Centers, public libraries, technical schools, colleges, and universities.

Conducting a Labor Market Survey

  1. Identify businesses which employ people in the job or occupation you are investigating. Vocational Biographies, business directories, and even the telephone yellow pages are useful for this.

  2. Prepare a short list of questions (3-5) to ask in your survey calls. Some recommended questions are on the next page.

  3. Using the yellow pages or other directories, select several businesses. Read the section on telephone etiquette, page 116 in this workbook.

  4. As you call each business on your list, ask to speak with a person working in the occupation you are checking out. If the person actually working this job is not available, speak with a manager or supervisor. Say you are calling for advice and information and that the call will be brief. Explain you are seeking career information, not employment, with the company. Most people are willing to talk for a short time, if they are not in the middle of a task. It may be necessary, however, to call back. Try to get a name, then ask for that person when you call the next time.

  5. Take notes during each call. Write down key comments you hear.

  6. Your survey results will be more reliable if you talk with several people instead of just one or two working in this occupation. To obtain a valid sample of opinions, contact between 6 - 10 people.

  7. If the "personal chemistry" of your phone conversation is going well, and the person seems to enjoy talking with you, you could ask if the person is willing to meet for a longer, face-to-face interview.

  8. Review your notes. Notice which comments were the most optimistic, the most pessimistic, and whether there is agreement from those you contacted. You may want to do other research, including reading, in-person interviews, observing the job being done ("job shadowing"), or sampling specific tasks of the job.

Questions to Ask During a Labor Market Survey

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This page was last updated on April 17, 1997
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