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Tips on how to research the job market

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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.

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.

Some examples of publications which are good sources of labor market information include:

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.

Labor market information - 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.

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.

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.

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.

Article Source: Department of Labor State Agencies

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