How much do you know about the job market?
Not clear on what kind of jobs are out there in your field? Unsure about grad school? What about that PhD? The Job Market Survey can be a very helpful tool when making choices, deciding where to focus in your studies, and in helping you be as prepared as you can for getting a job after you’ve graduated.
Maybe you’ve fallen in love with your subject area (like I did with anthropology) without spending too much time considering what people in your field actually do for a living. Maybe you have a pretty good idea of what people do in your field, but you have really specific ideas about the types of tasks you’d like to do in your future career. Maybe you have a really solid picture of the job market and you’re fairly certain you’re on the right track. Whatever the situation, doing a preliminary search for jobs just to see what’s out there can give you real information that you can use when making decisions about your future path, and give you added confidence about your choices. It can also help you to make the best use of the resources available for you today (if you’re still a student).
I’ve put together a video for you that takes you through the Job Market Survey from start to finish with all the tips and tricks that will make it a success for you! For a shortcut, you can check out the list below.
The Job Market Survey
Step 1: Make a list of your key qualifications, experience, skills, knowledge, and traits. I recommend the Skills Profile that I use in my classes and in career coaching as a good place to start.
Step 2: Consider your needs, wants, and nice-to-haves – what do you absolutely need in a job? This is where career coaching can really help – if you’re going it on your own, I’ve created an activity (loosely inspired by Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors) to help you evaluate what you need. I’ve also put together this worksheet (a guided reflection on what your ideal workplace conditions are) to help jumpstart your brainstorming.
Step 3: Do some research. Start googling job postings simply to get an idea of the types of keywords that employers in your field use. Check out linkedin profiles of successful peers and people that are a few years ahead of you.
Step 4: Define your keywords for the search. It’s important to keep track of your chosen keywords.
Step 5: Set up a search alert on a job board. Using your chosen keywords, adjust the search terms until you get results that fit (jobs you’d actually apply for, if you were going to apply for jobs right now). Set up an alert and have new jobs that fit the keywords sent to your email.
Step 6: Evaluate your results. Collect the job postings for a period of around 1-3 months. Did you get enough results? How many of the postings fit your idea of the ideal job? Are you comfortable with the results? I’ve created a follow-up to the career reflections worksheet you did earlier as well as a SWOT activity that might be useful in evaluating your results.
What if I don't get satisfactory results?
In the video, I discuss what to do if you’re not satisfied with the results of the search. When we realize that the job market doesn’t quite fit our profile, we can either change our focus slightly to become more competitive for the small number of positions out there that both fit our ideals and our profile – adjusting our current path while still in university, so that we’re better prepared for the job market – or make a career change, and broaden our search or change directions completely. If you’ve completed the activity and you’re torn between paths, career journaling, reflection, and career coaching can all be excellent tools in helping you make a decision.
Why think about this now? I’ve got all the time in the world!
The wonderful thing about being a student is that you have lots and lots of time to explore, think, develop, plan, and change your mind. This activity isn’t designed to force you to make up your mind today – it’s simply designed to help make sure that you have the best possible chance at ending up in a job that you love, flourish in, and that feels fulfilling to you. The earlier you review and reflect on your path and how well it fits (or doesn’t fit) where you want to be in the future, the more flexibility you have in making changes. Students have tons of resources available while at university. Life as a student is busy, so it’s common not to take advantage of everything that’s out there. However, making a career change later in life can be a bit more challenging, especially in the German job market, and the earlier you get an idea of what’s out there, the better prepared you’ll be!