How to Research Your Way Into a New Job

by Sari Friedman

Research Jobs

You may have heard people say that looking for a job is a full-time job. That sentiment likely exists because people are factoring in the research that goes into finding a great role. Reviewing current job postings is merely a thin slice of what it takes to find a suitable position. The following captures what is involved in thoroughly researching a new career opportunity.

Research? Really?

Yes, research. You can get a job by applying to postings but attaining a role that is a good match for your career goals often requires research. Applying to roles that are currently open is a narrow approach. Research takes time, planning, effort and patience, but it can yield results that improve your career satisfaction. Start by identifying the types of roles you are looking for and the skills you have that could be useful for your next opportunity. You can get specific and think about the industries and companies and even the location. The more you know about what you're looking for, the more likely you will be to find a role that matches. At the very least, you will know what you are willing to sacrifice or put on the back burner when you accept a role that does not match your criteria. The exercise of conducting this research can and should open new avenues that you have not considered and yet may result in a great career move.

Widen Your Scope Beyond Postings

If you are looking for a new role, you are familiar with many of the sites where roles are posted online. You may have set up alerts and notifications for specific opportunities. Those are just a fraction of the available jobs, so you need to widen the scope of your search. Why aren't all roles posted? There are a number of reasons why companies choose not to post roles including cost, confidentiality and past success of hiring referrals from current employees. Some ways to ensure you can tap into the hidden job market are through research, networking and following specific organizations. Regularly review companies' websites, recruitment firm websites and your LinkedIn newsfeed. Some industries and companies are likely to post on association sites. You may need to be a member of the association to have access to those roles. Recent graduates should be in touch with the career centre from their college or university as many organizations focus on campus recruitment for entry level roles.

Target Companies

There are many factors to consider when it comes to deciding which companies you may want to join. Make a list of companies you would consider. Be sure to include the ones you are interested in, whether or not they are currently hiring, that way, you can start to connect with members of that company on LinkedIn. Then, when they are hiring, they will see that you are in their network.

How do you decide which organizations? As a starting point, consider whether they are likely to have the type of role you are interested in, their reputation and if commuting is a factor, then their location. If there are organizations you are keenly interested in, review the Career sections of their websites regularly. As well, you want to connect on LinkedIn with human resources people and recruiters who have worked with those organizations because they may be referring to opportunities in their newsfeed.

Research Individuals

If you are deciding what types of roles could be out there for you, a helpful approach is to research on LinkedIn. What are you looking for? Search for individuals who have a title that is related to roles you would consider. There are many filters on LinkedIn that help to refine your search including location, industry and company name. Review the profiles of incumbents of roles you may consider, and you are sure to find useful information. Perhaps you'll discover that their previous role is more closely related to what you want to do next and you can research roles similar to that. You are likely to identify skills that may be helpful for you to include in your own profile. You can also find out more about their education, certifications and qualifications. This research may lead you to join groups or associations that will help to grow your network. It is somewhat time consuming, but that's the nature of research.

Consider Specific Requirements

Learn more about what is required for roles you are interested in. You want to make sure that your skills, experience and qualifications are a close match for available opportunities that interest you. Best to get ahead of that by considering any gaps in your skills, required certifications or courses. For example, some roles may require a project management certification such as the PMP, even pursuing it by starting the courses can enhance your resume. You would include a Professional Development section and indicate that it is 'in progress'. When you are researching incumbents of roles that could be of interest of you, make an inventory of qualifications, skills and experience and use that information to assess the gaps and make a development plan. It is best to know about any gaps in advance of seeing that great opportunity so you can ensure you are a closer match.

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Make research a priority. Spend time looking into organizations, requirements, current incumbents and developing your network. Research is work, but hopefully that work will result in the attainment of a role that matches your career goals and contributes to your career satisfaction.

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