Once you figure out what you want to do in your career, the next step is to find the right fit for your personality and your skills. While you want to find a job that you’ll be happy in, you don’t want to spin your wheels trying to get ahead in a dying industry or on a career path to nowhere. When you are looking for a job, it is important to research the industry to learn more about the opportunities available and the skills needed.
No matter what path you follow, you need to know how far you can go in the field. Find out specific details of a career, such as the management opportunities, where advanced degrees can take you and what it takes to reach the top rung of the ladder. For example, if you’re following a career path in health care as a nurse, there are numerous opportunities to move up into supervisory positions, take additional courses to assume higher management jobs and even parlay your experience into a slot in medical school.
Know the Networks
In most industries, there is a network of professionals you should get to know to support your career goals. Your professional network is what you rely on to land your first position, move up and learn about new opportunities within your industry. Your research should lead you to the most influential and active professional associations so you can meet the right people and learn more about how to develop your career.
Take the Right Classes
If you are in college, it is important to focus your coursework on a specific industry. By researching the industry, you are in a better position to choose the most productive and relevant courses. For example, if you find through your research that social media is going to be the most popular venue for advertising in the next 10 years, you can take marketing courses tailored to social media. Your resume will reflect your foresight, training and experience, making you a better candidate than someone whose coursework is heavy in print advertising.
Narrow Your Focus
Another benefit of industry research is that it tells you where most of the opportunities are in your field, and what you need to do to take advantage of them. For example, suppose you are an accountant and find through your research that corporate tax accounting has the highest projected job growth rate and earning potential of all disciplines within the field. Additional research will tell you what you need to do to develop the right skills and knowledge. You might need to take courses in corporate tax accounting and develop expertise in particular software programs. Your research helps narrow your vision to focus on the important steps you need to take to make it to the next level.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."