Explore Career Options
The next step in the job search process is to explore the "matches" between your identified skills, interests, values, and personality preferences with specific career fields. Focus your career interests on 2-3 career fields and then begin to learn more about those specific career fields.
Conduct detailed occupational research and informational interviews. Throughout your job search you will need to identify employers to contact, and then learn as much as you can about them. Research:
- What are the skills/qualifications required for this field? Do I have these skills?
- What are the most common entry-level jobs in this field?
- What are the top 10 most common tasks of someone in this job?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in this job and career field?
- How do people advance in this field?
- What are the largest or most successful organizations in this field?
- Research employers that meet the criteria you established in the self-assessment phase. Compile a list of 20-25 employers that meet your criteria.
Resources for exploring career fields (contact Career Services for those sites requiring a password):
- The Vault.com
- Spotlight On Careers
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Career Services Web Site
- Career Services' Resource Library
- The phone book, professional associations, a local Chamber of Commerce for businesses or a local United Way office for social service agencies
Once you have established a general list, read recent articles and check with your personal contacts. As your focus narrows to specific employers, obtain copies of their annual reports or brochures describing their services. Ask yourself why would you want to work for this employer? What interests you about their products or services? Where do you see yourself in the organization? Lastly, uncover the names and titles of key personnel to direct your cover letters. Focus on line managers and try to avoid personnel (HR) officers.