We have officially made it to my 2017 Workin’ Wednesday series! For those who are new here: Two years ago, I started this Workin’ Wednesday series, where I’ve since discussed how to nail the job interview process, how to maximize your resume, how to build your brand and more. This October, I’ll be sharing my knowledge about searching for jobs that pertain to your career field. There will be four parts, each of which will be posted every Wednesday afternoon for the rest of this month. As you can see, you have reached Part 1 of this series. So let’s jump right into it!
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Outlining your job search and maintaining a detailed plan is the only way you’re going to get through your job search successfully. I titled Part 1 of this series, “What do you know about your career field?” because I want you to take your mind beyond the surface. Sure, you spent the last four years sitting in school and running from internship to internship, but take the time to sit down and think about what it really takes to succeed in your industry.
For example, in my career field (public relations/marketing), it’s easy to say that knowing how to write, plan events and post on social media are key skills for me to have. But there’s much more that is at play if I want to continue to grow in my career. Skills, such as project management, media relations, employee relations, critical thinking, creativity, time management — these all play a huge role in succeeding through public relations.
Begin with these things in mind as you move into the first step of the job searching process.
Plan to succeed.
Start by organizing your thoughts and needs into a formal list. What is it that you want out of this next job? What really matters to you? And how much do these things impact your final decision? Below is an example of a list that you could create, based on the job characteristics that are most important to you.
Note: Keep in mind that not everyone has ‘more money’ at the top of his/her priority list. However, if you do, feel free to order your list however you choose.
Job Desires – Order of Importance – Will I still apply if not?
Flexible work schedule – 1 – Yes
Progressive work culture – 6 – Yes
Leadership & autonomy – 5 – Yes
Opportunities for growth – 4 – No
More money than I’m currently making – 3 – No
Close proximity to my home – 2 – No
Keeping a list like this in front of you will show you where your priorities lie and exactly what kind of job you want next. You might just surprise yourself.
Research is key.
Let’s move into research. Why is researching your career field so important? And what can I research that I don’t already know about my industry?
Researching your career field in this context means two things: 1) Research what job duties are expected of you in your career field; and 2) Research career logistics in your field, such as common job titles, salary, education/experience requirements and local job availability.
What are your essential job duties?
Knowing these job duties will help you weed through all of the irrelevant job postings that pop up during your search. In my career field (public relations/marketing), I’ve pretty much narrowed down my essential job duties to four main things:
- media relations
- event planning
- social media strategy and reporting
Knowing these helps me focus on what exactly my potential employers are looking for. Because of this, I spend a lot of my free time brushing up on these four skills as much as I can. Whether it’s through writing here on my blog, getting comfortable in front of the camera on my YouTube channel or spending my evenings reading through social media best practices, I want to use my knowledge to not only make me a better employee, but to make me a better professional all around.
What are some common job titles in your field?
This is actually quite easy to determine with a simple Google search. The first place I started was my university’s Journalism homepage. (Really, you can search any college that offers courses in your career field and navigate to its academic homepage.) From there, I was able to read up a bit about my school’s public relations program and common jobs that former students have received.
After doing a basic search for “public relations specialist” on the internet and taking the time to read through each new job title that popped up, I now have an extensive job title list that I have used to find numerous jobs, including the one I have now. Below are job titles that include the four essential job duties that I mentioned earlier in this post:
- Public Relations Specialist – Coordinator/Assistant/Associate/Manager
- Media and Events Coordinator (my current job) – Specialist/Assistant
- Media Relations Specialist – Coordinator/Manager
- Communications Coordinator – Assistant/Associate/Manager
- Public Affairs Representative/Manager
- Business Development Coordinator – Specialist/Associate/Manager
- Marketing Specialist – Coordinator/Assistant/Associate/Manager
Knowing all of these job titles will help you refine your job search and save you time while you look for jobs that are perfect for you.
What is the average salary in your industry?
For those that strongly prefer a good salary for your next job, it’s important that you research this type of information ahead of time. If your career field has a national annual salary average of $45,000, is that something that you’re willing to work for? If so, then you can proceed with your search. But if not, then you may have to consider a few things. Are certain industries paying more for your job title than others? Are you willing to move outside of your area to receive higher pay elsewhere? Is changing career fields an option for you if you aren’t satisfied with this pay? Ultimately, it’s your decision, and you’re going to have to determine what’s best for you and your family (if necessary).
What education and experience requirements are most common in your career field?
Ugh. I hated this part. When I was searching for the job I have now, most employers wanted at least a bachelor’s degree and minimum 4-5 years experience in my field. MINIMUM 4-5 YEARS EXPERIENCE FOR AN ENTRY-LEVEL PUBLIC RELATIONS JOB. My goodness. It was nearly impossible for me to find a job that I qualified for.
But knowing this information before I started looking for jobs would have significantly helped me. If possible, I would’ve spent more time at my internships, or I would have gotten another entry-level job in my industry, where I could work my way up at a company. I could have even freelanced to gain more experience. And even if you didn’t attend college, a lot of these jobs are open to “equivalent combination of education and experience.” Meaning, there is still a chance if you have more experience than you do higher education.
It’s important to research this information because you may just be lacking the experience that employers in your career field are looking for. If that’s the case, then it’s time to go build your experience now.
What does the local job market look like for you?
People often forget that job searches can be unsuccessful due to the lack of jobs in their area. Part of researching your career field is researching whether or not jobs are available for you in your proximity. For example, for a long time, I wanted to work in public relations for the arts. Anything artistic — whether it’s music, theater, dance — is where my heart is. But considering that my city is known for oil, gas, energy and healthcare is going to affect how successful my job search is. Take some time to determine if those common job titles you found are prevalent in your area. If not, are you willing to move to another area to find a job? Are you willing to change industries to find a job? Again, the choice is yours.
My goal for Part 1 of my series was to get you thinking about what it takes to be successful in your career and how you can translate that to a successful job search. I’m hoping that I got your wheels turning because the next few posts are going to be intense — with lots of data, tips and helpful resources for you to explore. So stay tuned!
(To see Part 2, click here.)