When you are embarking on a career change, a significant portion of your time will be spent undertaking research. Your research should include gathering information via face-to-face meetings, over the phone, online and by looking through relevant websites, blogs, journals, company reports and newspapers.
When Researching Potential Careers
It is important to have a thorough understanding of the careers / industries / companies you are contemplating working in.
An essential element to finding a career that you will find satisfying is the amount of time you invest in your research! It is too easy to pursue a career path based on the high-level information we have found online and on our perception of what it will be like. The same rings true for careers we eliminate based on perception and lack of deep information.
It pays to invest the time before you pursue things such as a degree to understand the jobs post study and the prospects of securing work. For while educational institutions are selling all sorts of degrees for some, such as accounting and pharmacy there is already an over-supply of graduates. With any path you choose to pursue, look 5-10 years ahead if you can, to see if there will be a solid job market for those professions.
Likewise, where possible find people to speak with who are working in the professions that interest you to get a first-hand account of the highlights and lowlights of the profession. Find out what a real day in the life of X looks like. Even ask if you can shadow them for a day or a week to learn what they actually do.
Supplement this with online research. Both must be conducted for a thorough review to have occurred.
When researching it is advisable to keep a spreadsheet or even a notebook to capture your research, follow up actions, thank you, interest level ratings etc.
Think about the following:
Utilising Your Online & Offline Networks
Who do you know who is working or has worked in the field/s you are considering?
What online groups can you join that are in the area/s of your career interest?
What social or professional connections do you have online that you could leverage?
Speak to your family, friends, people in your local community, sporting teams etc.
Find out what they enjoy about their jobs.
What did they not enjoy?
What does a typical day look like?
What sort of clients do they deal with?
What are the opportunities for career progression within the company /industry?
What other types of companies do people in similar roles work for?
What is their background?
How did they get their first job?
Is there anyone else they suggest speaking to?
What information can you find out about your potential career/s?
Employer Rating Sites
Employer Research Sites
Online Groups and Forums
Professional Bodies & Associations
Find out the names of the professional bodies of people in your potential career/s become members of.
Speak to someone at the association.
What sorts of backgrounds do people in that career have?
What educational qualifications will you need?
What industries does this career work in?
Can they give you an indication of salary levels?
Journals / Magazines
Find out the names of the journals / magazines read by people in the potential career.
Do the topics interest you?
Pay attention to the advertisements in the magazine to get a broader background on the role.
Training & Education
Look into the qualifications required for the career/s.
Location and cost of relevant educational programs and institutions.
Is further study required? If so, can you study this through university, or TAFE or through the professional association?
Can you study full time, part time, defer if required?
Look at the subjects that are covered in the course. Do they interest you?
Look at attending relevant events on sites such as EventBrite
Explore university events, such as the Melbourne University Free Lecture series
The City of Melbourne and other councils also regularly hold terrific events on all manner of topics that you can attend sometimes free other times they will be paid events
Contacting Companies Directly
Contact companies that you admire that operate in your career and/or industry of interest. Find out who you could potentially speak with in the organisation about your career/s of interest. It is recommended that you contact the Human Resources Department first or in the absence of this person find out the most appropriate person to speak to, which could be a manager within a particular department or where possible aim to speak with an executive. They will inform you of the company’s policy. They may also provide you with some further information or refer you onto another person to whom you can talk about the career/s you are researching. You could also follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter (if they are there) and start to develop a relationship this way
Sometimes a great starting place is to use your LinkedIn University Alumni network to find alumni who work in the organisation as Alumni are generally good at helping each other out. In addition a lot of universities now offer their Alumni access to amazing online databases such as IBIS for free.
Career Exploration Sites
Below are a few websites that offer great content for researching different jobs and career paths. Through these tools you will gain another perspective on different roles.
Job Outlook – Your guide to Australian careers
Job Outlook can help you make decisions about study and training, your first job, or the next step in your career.
MyPlan – A comprehensive careers site that includes an area for Adults who are looking to make a career change, including resources, videos, career profiles and an area where you can explore over 900 careers in the ‘explore career options’ section. Simply type in the title of the jobs you are researching and the site will offer you information including a description, requirements, salary, related careers, degrees and videos.
O*NET® Occupational Information Network – This is a comprehensive site that contains great information on key attributes and characteristics of workers and occupations, plus related tools and resources. You can match your skills against various occupations and much more.
Jobhunter’s Bible – A website for job-hunting and career exploration; designed as a supplement to the book, “What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard Bolles. The site includes articles and links on job hunting.