Researching the Industry, Company, Job, and Interviewer
Employers don't have to hesitate when asked what they see as the number one problem with job candidates: a complete lack of preparation. True, a good many people are well-prepared to speak about themselves and their accomplishments, but they should have some knowledge about the job, the organization, and the interviewer as well.
Unfortunately, gaining that knowledge requires research, and many people resist doing it. As a result, many end up treating job information research as they did their high school term papers: They slap it together and hope for the best or avoid doing it completely. This lack of preparation often shows in the interview. This chapter takes the mystery out of research by pointing out where to turn, what to look for, and how to have fun doing it.
Find Good Information About the Industry
The industry information you gather will be invaluable to you at the latter stages of the interview process. Knowing that there are only 9,000 available certified property managers and 250,000 real estate firms needing agents, for example, allows you to present yourself as among the top 3 percent in the fieldan excellent bargaining chip during the interview and at the salary negotiation table. (See chapter 8 for more on negotiating salary.)
Let's say that you have an interview tomorrow in a hospital. Even if you hope to work in a nonmedical area such as accounting, you will do better in the interview if you know something about the health care industry. The following two resources can help you find information about any industry in which you might be interested in working.
Career Guide to Industries
This book, published by the U.S. Department of Labor, is of particular value to job seekers. It provides helpful descriptions for more than 40 major industries, which cover about 75 percent of all jobs. The Career Guide to Industries is easy to read and provides information that can help you present yourself well in an interview.
Each description includes an overview of the industry, types of jobs it offers, employment projections, earnings possible, training required, working conditions, advancement opportunities, industry trends, sources of additional information, and more. You can find the Career Guide to Industries in your local library or bookstore. You can also access its contents online at stats.bls.gov/oco/cg/home.htm.
This site (hoovers.com) is the place to go online to find anything you need to know about industries and employers. You can search for information by company name, industry type, stock ticker, executives' names, and more. Basic information is free. For different subscription levels, you can get more details.
Other Sources of Industry Information
A good library has lots of information on industries. Industry trade magazines such as Advertising Age, Automotive News, Hotel and Motel Management, Modern Healthcare, and Supermarket News are full of articles detailing trends and problems in their particular niches. Grab the last six months' issues and settle down for some interesting reading.
While you have these publications in hand, photocopy and highlight facts that boost your position in that industry, and scribble in the margins some questions you'd like your prospective employer to answer. And always flip to the classifieds sectionno use wasting a perfectly good chance to find a job lead!
Next, grab the library's current copy of the Encyclopedia of Associations. Don't let its name intimidate youit is a gold mine of associations listed by categories. Each entry gives the contact information, mission statement, newsletters, and conventions for that group. Pick the ones in your industry category that closely match your situation and give them a call or check out their Web sites. They will most likely send you copies of a recent newsletter or journal and provide other information.
Tip: Many trade magazines also maintain Web sites where you can go and browse information. You can find lists of many of these sites at dir.yahoo.com/ business_and_economy/ business_to_business/ news_and_media/ magazines/ trade_magazines/.