Research is a vital part of an effective job search. Good research will provide you answers to important job search questions. The information you gather will help you develop your job search tools, i.e., resume, letters, applications, portfolio, etc. You will able to make informed decisions about which jobs to apply for and how. And good research will help you decide on whether or not to take job offers.
What types of jobs exist and who works in them? Look for job titles,
general descriptions, training and other qualifications, salary expectations,
job outlook, sources of additional information.
|Activity: Click here to go to the Occupational Outlook Handbook and research an occupation of your choice.|
What trends are effecting this type of job and job market? Look for
new and changing technologies, economic need, hiring trends, social movements
that relate to the career.
|Activity: Click here to read about Oregon's Leading Industries, courtesy of the Oregon Labor Market Information System.|
Who hires employees in my career area? Basic company information to
look for includes products & services, organization and job titles
(i.e., who works there and what do they do?), financial background, markets
& clients. An important factor to investigate is the personality of
the company. How does the company treat its employees? How do employees
work together? What is the physical workplace like? Of course, research
the company’s employment process. Most important, look for company contacts
either for information or for application.
|Activity: Click here to search the Portland Chamber of Commerce business listings for a specific company.|
What jobs are open and how to apply? Look for information sources listing
current openings, job descriptions and the specific application procedure.
A good job description is especially helpful in putting together your job
applications materials. Most useful are job title, duties, qualifications
(both required and desired), salary and work schedule. If you have a good
job description, you have a good idea what the employer wants to see on
the resume, application, etc.
|Activity: Click here to search Monster.com's job bank.|
How do I apply for this job? Each job will have a specific manner of
application required. This may be different than the normal application
procedure for the company. Do what is required, but do not limit yourself
to the specified procedure. For example, if you are requested to submit
a resume and cover letter, do that. Then, unless specifically asked not
to, follow-up with a phone call.
|Activity: Click here to read about Intel Corporation's application procedure.|
It is who you know. Whenever possible, use "inside sources", i.e., employees within the company, potential managers & co-workers, other professionals within your career field. Other networking contacts include instructors, fellow students & graduates, social contacts, family, friends, etc. For a fuller discussion of Networking, see the Contacting Employers lesson.
Public libraries, book stores, and the internet offer a wealth of information helpful to job seekers. Sources include Chamber of Commerce directories, professional/trade journals, newspapers (e.g., OregonLive's Jobs), the yellow pages, financial references and periodicals (e.g., Portland Business Journal, Wall Street Journal & Index), professional directories (e.g., "Who’s Who in …..", Directory of Professional & Trade Associations) and special career publications like Oregon Careers.
Companies may be contacted directly through their Public Relations for general corporate information, and through Human Resources or College Relations for career information. Many companies also have internet access to corporate information. See Direct Contact below for more information.
Professional & Trade Associations may also provide published resources, as well as activities open to students or job seekers.
Web Sites and Services
Most large companies and many small companies provide information through corporate web sites. Usually, you can gather general information about a companies products, services, organization and finances from these web sources. Often companies list job openings and application procedures. And sometimes you can make direct contact with managers or others via email listed or linked at a web site.
Also, many companies make use of on-line employment services that connect job seekers and employers. These sites list numerous job openings, post resumes for job seekers and arrange for special recruitments (like on-line job fairs.) Usually, these services are free to the job seeker, although employers often pay a fee.
For a quick list of on-line resources, see Sylvania Job Placement's Employment Links page or visit the Portland Chamber of Commerce site.
Employment and support services can provide information as well as access to current job openings. These include Student Services at PCC, Community Services available in your local area, the State Employment Division, private temporary and placement agencies. The Internet also offers a number of on-line job search resources.
Contacting Human Resources, Public Relations and College Relations office is one way to get direct information. But often these departments may not have the first-hand information you need to do good research. Also, it may be difficult to meet with a representative face-to-face, or even have an in-depth conversation on the phone. Better options may include Career Fairs and Open Houses, where company representatives are available to meet with directly. See our Special Events page for current opportunities of this sort. Informational Interviews are very helpful in giving you the information you want from the people who do the work you are interested in.
As a student you have an advantage over other job seekers: you can combine job search with educational activities. Cooperative Education, or internship, is a good way to build experience while learning about a company and career, on the job in a short term commitment. It may be possible to do even shorter projects as a volunteer or freelance contractor.
Students may also be able to integrate classroom projects with employer contacts. Research projects using direct sources, i.e., the people who design/manufacture/use/sell the product, service or technique you are studying. Consider project work that can be used outside of class in a real application by employers.
Finally, students have a variety of short-time activities that can expose them to real-life work activities, including job shadowing and observation, mentor programs, company tours, etc.
Remember: Most jobs are never advertised and most hires come
from personal referrals.
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