How (and Why) to Effectively Research During your Job Search
There are various activities you should be doing in your job search beyond just applying to roles online. To quickly summarize, here is a quick list of the various activities you should be doing and for what percent of your time. Networking (50%), Online Applications (10%), Online Research (10%), Personal Branding (10%), Skill Development (10%), Self Care (5%), Self Reflection (5%). Read more about my suggested job search strategy here.
Today, we’re going to dive into research as a key activity to do during your job search.
Why is researching such an important part of your job search?
- It allows a moment of choice, whereby you can continuously ask yourself and reflect on what roles and industries interest you that you even want to start researching today. You should only spend this time learning what you want to be learning, which will inform drastically which job applications are the best use of your time to submit (i.e. which are most aligned with you).
- You may uncover that you’re applying to roles or industries that are outside of your interest, which gives you a seriously helpful piece of reflection so that you can pause and potentially pivot the direction of your applications. If you’re applying and interviewing for things that you have no interest in, that will likely shine through in an interview, likely stalling your ability to land a role. Reflect on what conversations you’d be energized and excited to have, about what type of problems and impact. Every job helps someone with something. Every industry serves some mission or purpose. Which role and which industry is aligned with both your strengths and interests? Which conversation can you show up to in the most compelling way? Do you need to pivot your job applications based on the answers to these reflections?
- It allows you a space to learn so that when you show up to networking calls and interviews you can show that your knowledge and ideas are topical and relevant.
- It proves that you’re a fit for the role if you can show up truly understanding what that role entails as well as what’s going on in the industry. Your interest and information will take you far in an interview. It will make it easier for you to prove in a compelling way not just what you understand, but how you can leverage that knowledge to create drastic impact at their organization.
Key questions you can ask yourself when doing your research:
- What problems do you want to learn about? What problems do you want to work on or help solve? For more self-reflection and an 80+ question career assessment, check out WOKEN’s career platform.
- What do I not yet know or understand about my target role(s)? Where can I find more information to understand what that role entails?
- Can I identify any new companies I’m not yet aware of that are being innovative in my industry of interest? Who’s doing what? Who are the players, innovators, and competitors?
- What are the trends going on in my industry of interest? Where are things headed? What are the key opportunities or challenges being faced and by whom? How have things changed? What are the sub sectors within the industry and how do they differ? Are there questions you have about what’s going on in the industry? What key problems are you thinking about and/or what key problems are others talking about? What product, service, or element of the industry particularly stands out or intrigues you?
How should I do the research, specifically?
- Don’t be afraid to leverage Google, Youtube, LinkedIn newsfeed, news channels, webinars, or other professional industry-based resources that you like to use (get suggestions from networking contacts!).
- Personally, I like to take notes. Job search requires learning to level up your strategy, so treat job search like a research and learning project.
- Should I be goal-oriented or open-ended with my research? If you are crunched for time, then being goal oriented is great. If you have time, pursuing an open-ended rabbit hole allows you to truly see where your choices and interests take you which can be a great source of added self-reflection and career exploration to refine your clarity on your ideal path. That being said, everything in job search should be time-boxed so that you can get to all the key activities mentioned above, in a balanced fashion.
What do I do with all my learnings?
- That’s why 5% of your week is devoted to reflections. Document what you learned, and what it means for your next steps. Did you learn something that helps you to narrow in on which roles, industries, or companies are the best fit for you? Know that if you still have options for roles or industries, it means you should be doing more learning and/or more reflection until you can confidently identify which role and which industry (subsector too) is the best fit for your next step in your career.
Rachel Serwetz’ early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 4.5+ years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School, Columbia University, WeWork, and Project Activate.