Here’s how to turn research into job opportunity
Q: I have been working for several years and know the industries that interest me. When researching employers, I have discovered several companies that appear to be different than what I expected. Should I just take them off my list or keep pursuing them?
A: Glad to hear you are using research before you pursue employers, since most job candidates think of research as something you do before an interview rather than as a priority when starting a job search.
You will discover almost every area of your search is supported by researching efforts, from pursuing a list of target companies to preparing your resume or gathering knowledge for an interview. Research not only serves your decision-making abilities, but it helps you build confidence in addressing the employer’s needs.
Landing a good job is often stalled by a lack of knowledge, and that can only be acquired by researching ahead of time. Finding an employer whose work culture matches your values will significantly increase your chances of career growth. Going after companies that are at odds with your values is a waste of precious time.
Much of your research will come from two areas: formal and informal. Naturally the informal path will give you the family-and-friends aspect that can be helpful from a personal perspective. Finding out information such as leadership styles, work cultures and names of decisionmakers are all beneficial when networking and contacting a potential employer.
The formalized approach to researching is more time consuming, yet will give you more in-depth information such as press releases, local/national newspapers, business journals, industry and trade directories, as well as US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) if the company is publicly traded with shareholders. Researching competitors is another way to add to your knowledge and uncover industry-related issues.
A good example came from a project manager who was highly interested in seeking companies going through acquisitions; his strategy was to research companies that would need his skills to help make the change process more successful.
As he gathered more information, he discovered the best ways to approach specific employers and what areas he needed to highlight in his background that would generate the most interest. He narrowed down his list of employers that interested him the most and began reaching out to people who were in the same field to gather information.
He ended up landing a job with a company on his list and he credited his success to researching beforehand. He acquired knowledge that helped him decide which companies to pursue and which ones to skip.
Q: I have a great relationship with my boss, but it’s time to move on. I received a job offer and am going to accept it, but want to know the best way to address this without hurting their feelings.
A: The desire to keep a good relationship is important because it honors both you and your boss. Depending on your industry, it’s not uncommon to work with previous bosses in the future, and leaving on good terms makes a lasting impression.
Paying attention to your thoughts of wanting “to move on” helps you develop self-awareness and serves as an indication that something is missing in your career.
While working for a great boss can make up for a multitude of problems, over a period of time, if your job is not the best match for your interests it can feel draining. Working relationships can only carry you so far, even with the best intentions.
Trying to avoid hurting your boss’ feelings while at the same time listening to your inner voice saying it’s time to move on can create an uncomfortable dilemma. Honesty is the best way to approach your situation, and if you truly have a great relationship with your boss, they will respect and care about your decision.
The key area in developing your career involves listening and paying attention to the areas that create the most energy for you without the fear of hurting others’ feelings. Moving on to a new position does not mean you have to break the relationship with your boss; it broadens your ability to grow. Good bosses want the best for their subordinates, even though you have helped them significantly in the past.
Leaving in a professional manner will always be remembered, and doing so means that you inform your boss of any projects that need completed. Offer to assist those who will be taking over for you, and if training is involved, take the initiative to clearly list the information needed. Don’t leave unfinished work behind.
Caring for your boss means working up to the last minute with a gracious attitude and concern for their success.
Landing a good job is often stalled by a lack of knowledge, and that can only be acquired by researching ahead of time.