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Job Search Guide: Strategies for Professionals

Chapter Four

Researching the Job Market


[Where will the Jobs Be?] [General Occupational Information] [Resources on the General Labor Market] [Sources of Information on Specific Companies] [Sources of International Labor Market Information]

This chapter identifies some sources which can help you research the job market for career fields that might be of interest to you. It can also help you identify companies that might have careers that require your unique skills and abilities. By completing this chapter you will better be able to answer questions such as:

  • How does the job market look for the career I have in mind?
  • What are my chances for finding a position in that field?
  • Should I consider relocating?


Where will the Jobs Be?

The growth rate for jobs that require higher-than-average levels of education and training is expected to outstrip the growth of jobs in general. However, it is also predicted that many companies will be downsizing and many of the positions eliminated will be in middle management.

In general, growth in service-producing industries is expected to be much greater than growth in industries which produce goods. In manufacturing firms, however, employment in professional occupations is expected to grow slightly.

What size companies provide you with the best chance of being hired? Surprisingly, it has been estimated that two-thirds of all jobs are in smaller companies--those with 25 or fewer employees. Many of the publications mentioned later in this chapter tend to concentrate on larger companies. It is also important to use the informal direct employer contact techniques discussed later in this chapter to locate smaller businesses.


General Occupational Information

When deciding where to concentrate your job search efforts, it is useful to have data on industries which offer the best overall employment prospects.

If you have worked before, you are probably most familiar with one or two industries. Even if the outlooks for these industries are poor, you may well be able to find work if you make a concerted effort, as replacement workers are often needed. You probably will want to explore industries with better prospects as well.

If you are a first-time job seeker, there may be a number of different areas of work open to you and it would certainly pay to concentrate on those with the highest potential.


Resources on the General Labor Market

Publications. There are a large number of government and private publications which offer a wealth of information on outlooks, salaries and growth trends for jobs and industries.

Most of these publications are for sale to individuals, and some of them are quite affordable. Many of the publications, however, are available as reference books in the public library and in many college and university libraries. Many are available online free of charge; a link is given when the online version is available.

Most large cities have branches of the public library that specialize in providing job information. These special libraries can be invaluable sources of labor market information. While in the library, don't rule out the librarian as a source of expert information.

Below are some examples of publications which are good sources of labor market information:

Occupational Outlook Handbook. Published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gives the outlook for hundreds of jobs. Also describes working conditions, duties, qualifications and advancement potential. Particularly valuable to new job seekers.

Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Published by the U.S. Department of Labor. Gives an overview of the outlook for different sectors of the economy and individual occupations. Often contains articles focusing on selected job areas. Covers new and emerging occupations, training opportunities, salary trends, and results of new studies.

The Career Guide to Industries. Published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Provides information on careers by industry, including the nature of the industry, working conditions, employment, occupations in the industry, training and advancement, earnings, employment outlook, and sources of additional information.

Governmental Agencies. In addition to publications, there are several agencies which provide expert labor market information to the public without charge.

Division of Research and Statistics.The New York State Department of Labor's Division of Research and Statistics maintains ten regional offices around the state. Any of these offices may be contacted to obtain labor market information.

If you want labor market information for areas outside of New York State, check the Bureau of Labor Statistics Regional Information web page.


Sources of Information on Specific Companies

After you have a good idea of the industries, fields of work and geographical areas where you want to concentrate your job search, the next step is to locate companies that might employ people in your field.

Publications. There are a large number of publications that contain lists of companies by industry, location, size and other defining characteristics. Some of these are intended specifically to help job seekers, while others are designed for different purposes. Regardless of the original intent, many of these publications can be used to find companies that might have potential for you.

Hoover's. Includes features such as company information, stock quotes, investor resources, top officers, and a career center.

New York Manufacturers Directory. (Harris InfoSource International, Twinsburg, OH). Arranged geographically. Similar volumes are produced for other states and there are also regional and national directories.

The Career Guide - Dun's Employment Opportunities Directory. (Parsippany, NJ). Aimed specifically at the professional job seeker. Lists more than 5,000 major U.S. companies which plan to recruit in the coming year. Unlike other directories from Standard and Poor and Dun and Bradstreet, this guide lists peronnel directors and gives information about firms' career opportunities and benefits packages. Also gives a state-by-state list of headhunters and tips on interviewing and resume writing.

Vault reports. Gives information about companies and what their employees think of these companies. Free snapshot is limited, but you can buy more information when you find what you want.

The Riley Guide. An all-inclusive online tool that lists online sites and services helping to target a company through research and ranking resources.

Thomas Register. (New York, NY). Lists more than 100,000 companies across the country. Contains listings by company name, type of product made and brand name of product produced. Catalogs provided by many of the companies are also included.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and local business associations publish directories listing companies within a specific geographical area. These are available in libraries or by writing to the individual associations.

Professional and Trade Associations. These associations constitute another excellent avenue for getting information about where your kind of work might be found. These associations:

  • Help you identify areas where growth is occurring.
  • Provide the names of firms which might employ people in a specific type of work.
  • Can identify the best information sources for developments within the field.
  • Can provide more information on small-firm leads than directories.
  • Publish newsletters which provide information on companies needing increased staff in the near future.

Some publications which list trade and professional associations are:

Encyclopedia of Associations. (Gale Research, Detroit, MI) A listing of more than 22,000 professional, trade and other nonprofit organizations in the United States.

National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States. (Columbia Books, Washington, DC) Describes more than 7,300 national groups. Published annually.

Newspapers. Newspapers not only contain want ads, but also much other useful employment information. Articles about new or expanding companies can be valuable leads for new job possibilities. The New York State Department of Labor maintains a regional listing of "Jobs in the News".

If relocating is a possibility, look at newspapers from other areas. They can serve as a source of job leads as well as indicate some idea of the job market. The major out-of-town newspapers are sold in most large cities and also are available in many public libraries.

Networking. Networking is another excellent way of gathering information about a particular field. It is one of the best ways of discovering the existence of smaller companies which often are not listed in directories. Chapter 6 on networking is devoted to tips and techniques on this subject.


Sources of International Labor Market Information

In an increasingly global economy, overseas employment is becoming a realistic alternative for many people. You may seek out overseas employment because you prefer exotic work locations or you may consider foreign employment only after having difficulty finding work in the U.S. In either case, looking for a job in the international labor market may open up new possibilities for employment.

Networking. This is one of the best ways to get information about overseas work. Talk to anyone you know who has worked in the country in which you are interested. Another excellent method to find overseas opportunities is to look up companies which are either owned by a foreign parent firm or which have foreign branches. There is a good chance you can find someone within the company who can advise you on the possibilities of foreign employment or at least refer you to the right authority. The company may even have an opening for you in a foreign location.

Newspapers. Newspapers from foreign countries are available in most large cities. They carry want ads, but since citizenship and work requirements vary from country to country, many of the jobs may not be available to foreigners. A call or visit to the consulate of the country in question may help you get some of this information. Many U.S. newspapers also carry ads for jobs overseas.

Directories and newsletters. These sources list specific job openings in overseas firms, but be aware that by the time you reply to the opening it is likely to be filled.

International agencies. These agencies maintain lists of consultants who are available to work overseas. Some agencies you might want to register with are:

World Bank

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

United Nations Development Program

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

The U.S. Government. The federal government also has many jobs overseas. Don't overlook civil service announcements as a source of overseas employment. Federal Career Opportunities is available at most public libraries. State employment agencies offer computerized searches for federal job openings.

The Peace Corps. This is another source of jobs overseas. Wages are low, living conditions may be less than optimal, but if you are interested in helping people, the Peace Corps may be a possibility.

Books and periodicals. These sources can provide useful information to the international job seeker. Some of these are listed below:

Lauber, Daniel. International Job Finder: Where the Jobs are Worldwide. Planning Communications, 2002, ISBN 1884587100. Includes the broadest collection of effective online and offline resources for finding international jobs.

Penrith, Deborah. Directory of Jobs & Careers Abroad. 12th ed. Vacation/Work 2004, ISBN 1854583174. Comprehensive guide to all kinds of work abroad provides essential information on permanent career opportunities around the world for people of all walks of life from school leavers to fully qualified professionals.

Mueller, Nancy. Work Worldwide: International Career Strategies for the Adventurous Job Seeker. Avalon Travel Publishing, 2000, ISBN 1562614908.

Hachey, Jean-Marc. The Big Guide To Living And Working Overseas: 3,045 Career Building Resources. Fourth Edition. ISSI, 2004, ISBN 0969600135. Originally written for Canadians, this book contains a wealth of information valuable to the overseas job seeker. Part of this work appears on the web at with directory updates included for time between issues.

Researching the international job market can give you many clues about the careers, locations and companies which look promising for overseas employment. Before you commit to an overseas job, however, carefully consider personal and family issues which might impede a full adjustment to your host country. Many companies expect at least a two-year commitment to an overseas job. Lack of foresight regarding cross-cultural adjustment could make it a very difficult two years.

Go to Table of Contents, Handling Your Job Loss, Managing Your Personal Resources, Assessing Your Skills, Experiences and Interests, Conducting the Job Search, Networking, Writing Resumes and Cover Letters, Employment Interviewing, and Employment Testing.

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