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Beyond Job Listings: Tips for Serious Career Research


Most people take salaries and personal enjoyment into account when they're doing career research. However, there are many questions you can forget to ask yourself when it comes to a new career. Just because you might like a job doesn't mean you'll like it for a decade. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when conducting a serious career research.

Growth Opportunity

The days of starting in the mailroom and working your way up to president of a company may be over, but you should still look for a career where there's opportunity for growth. If you start a career, is there a chance for promotion and expansion of duties, salary and benefits? You don't want to put in several years at a telecommuting job and suddenly find that you've hit a brick wall.

Recession Proof

How stable have jobs been in the profession you're considering? Recessions come and go, and some industries are more prone to layoffs than others. Do some research to find out whether a career has done well, or at least remained stable, during bad economic times. If a career has done poorly during recessions, is the risk of being downsized something you're willing to prepare for?

Training and Upgrades

Some fields are constantly changing as technology advances. Will the career you're considering require additional time, training and study to remain competitive? Are you willing and able to "reinvent the wheel" every few years as new software is released? Do employers in this field pay for additional employee training, or is it an expense you're expected to pay for? You have to weigh the costs and time it takes to get the training you'll need throughout your career to see if it's worth it.

Amount of Competition

Research the outlook for a profession in 5 years. Look specifically for the estimated number of college graduates in that field. If there are more graduates anticipated than jobs, it can lead to a big increase in competition, and it could also lead to overall wage deflation. Employers are always willing to pay less for a qualified employee, and you could find yourself being downsized in a few years in favor of someone who's willing to work for less.

Also, research whether the industry prefers to outsource jobs to foreign countries. This can also lead to wage deflation and downsizing.

Job Turnover Rates

Does the industry you're looking at have a high turnover rate? If so, that can be a red flag. There may be job stresses or working conditions that you haven't considered.

Conduct Some Interviews

Don't just rely on the word of recruiters at job fairs. Pick up the phone and talk to people in your prospective field. Explain to them that you're considering a career in that industry, and ask them if they can chat for a few minutes. Ask them as many questions as time allows.

Read Blogs

Bloggers can also be a good source if you want to find out the downside of a potential career. If you find bloggers who work in that field, read their posts to see what they're complaining about. Your research might turn up some things you'd never think to ask about.

Career research should go beyond a simple search of job listings and estimated salary potential. The money won't make a bit of difference if you find you've wasted several years in a profession that's wrong for you.

You can find resources for your career research at


Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.

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