Job market / Self awareness

How do I Research my Career? 5 suggestions (clue: don’t start with Google!)

If you’re feeling bored, you could try walking into your careers service and asking ‘Got any information about jobs?’ See what response you get if you can’t be any more specific. But occasionally students confess that they have done pretty much the same thing on-line, starting their career investigations by typing ‘jobs’ into Google.

Google doesn’t know anything – if you have such an unclear idea of what you’re looking for, Google can’t help very much. If you are struggling to focus your career planning or job search, think about which of the following five suggestions you could most usefully focus on.

1) Know yourself

What are you good at? What do you value? In what sort of circumstances do you feel most true to yourself? What do you want out of a job? What do the people who know you best say about what you’re good at, and what really motivates you? (Have you asked them?) If these are difficult questions to answer, there are some starting points at developing your self-awareness

2) Know what’s out there

The Prospects and Target Jobs  websites go way beyond vacancy listings (though they have those too). They also have descriptions of most graduate job titles, with key information such as what skills and qualifications you need, what hours you will be expected to work and how you much you are likely to be paid. University careers websites are excellent sources of information too – the University of Warwick one is at Careers and Skills and there are overviews of most of the job sectors of interest to Warwick students at Finding work

3) Get experience

Gaining an internship or similar experience is the best way of testing your career ideas. You may fall on your feet and find that the internship enables you to go on to a similar, permanent role with the same organisation. But even if after doing an internship role for a few weeks you decide it’s not for you, it is extremely likely that the experience will have enabled you to develop and demonstrate skills which will look positive in any application. You’ll probably have got to know yourself better too. The graduate vacancy websites also advertise internships – but not all areas of work where internships are available need to advertise them, so talk to a careers consultant if you are not finding adverts for the kinds of jobs in which you are interested.

4) Talk to real people

University careers consultants are professionally trained and qualified, which means that they can help you to get started in your thinking, or put your thoughts in order. They may suggest places to look for more information, depending on what you need. Once you’ve got an idea of where your interests lie, there’s no substitute for talking to people doing the job. Larger employers, and some smaller ones, visit university campuses regularly and give an opportunity to talk to people – often alumni – already doing the job you’re interested in. Social media, (particularly LinkedIn), has made it easier than ever to make contact with individuals who do the kind of jobs you want to do or work in the kinds of organisations for which you would like to work. Most universities have opportunities to get in touch with alumni to ask them about what they do – as well as regular events when alumni come onto campus. Warwick students can sign up to talk to alumni volunteers at E-mentoring

5) Find out as much as you can about any employer you are planning to apply for.

Company websites are an excellent starting point of course, but you will only get to know what the organisation wants you to know. Dig a bit deeper: what do professionals think of the organisation? How do competitors or similar organisations view it? What do the organisation’s critics (if there are any) say and how convincing are they? Having answers to questions such as these will not only help you to decide whether you really want to work for the organisation, they will also give you more to talk about at an interview. There are further suggestions of places to look at Warwick’s Careers and Skills website Employer research

Of course if you have enough experience and contacts to understand what you are looking for in work and what kind of roles will suit you, then Google can become an excellent tool for finding further information!

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