Here’s how to turn re­search into job op­por­tu­nity

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - BUSINESS - Kim­berly Thomp­son Kim­berly Thomp­son is a board-cer­ti­fied coun­selor. Send ques­tions to [email protected]­reer­res­cue.com or Hous­ton Chron­i­cle, P.O. Box 4260, Hous­ton, TX 77210. Visit her blog at www.blogs.chron.com/ca­reer­res­cue.

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.

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