How to Conduct Industry Research

After exploring your passions and answering the 6 questions that help you master career happiness, the next step in career exploration is conducting industry research. An industry analysis is meant to help you review various market and financial factors of the industry or industries that you are most interested in working, so you can begin testing some of your assumptions and evaluating potential job options.

Whether you’re entering an industry for the first time or looking for ways to take your career to the next level, it’s important to conduct regular industry analyses. By investigating and analyzing the key trends, employee requirements, and competitive landscape of your desired industry, you can determine the best strategies for achieving recruiting and career success.

There are three primary goals we encourage our fellows to consider when conducting this analysis:

1. Assess the health and stability of the industry

Understanding the health and relative growth prospects of the industry you are passionate about is of the utmost importance. No matter how much you might be interested in an industry, if it is unhealthy or declining, then the prospects of you developing a career might be limited.

2. Identify and assess the key players in the industry

After learning about the industry broadly, you need to focus on the key players. Who is the market leader? Why? What do industry experts say about this company? Who are the other relevant players? The goal here is to understand the competitive landscape, so you can effectively target the companies where you plan to recruit. Once you’ve assessed each competitor's strengths and weaknesses, you can identify and implement strategies to boost your own recruiting performance.

3. Identify skill and experience requirements

So you’ve picked an industry and identified your dream company. The next step is to pinpoint roles you are interested in and decode the job description so you can better understand the basic skills necessary to secure a job or internship. This is also an excellent opportunity to identify classes, work study assignments, and student clubs that might help position you as a more attractive candidate.

Armed with these goals, we have several suggestions on resources you can leverage during your industry research.

  • Occupational Outlook Handbook. Read about different occupations and learn about the nature of the work, training and educational requirements, earning potential, future job outlook, and more — in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Visit the company website. This is one of the best places to learn about the company.  Check their latest press releases, previous financial statements (if they are public) and any other information available on the website. You should also explore current job openings to learn more about company culture and employee expectations.
  • Talk with your network of contacts. Family, friends, professors, and mentors are all excellent resources to learn about potential careers. Tell them about what you are interested in and see if they can connect you with someone who is already doing it. On average, about 40% of all company hire’s are from referrals.
  • Conduct informational interviews. The best way to learn about companies is to speak with people who currently work there. Leverage your network (see above) and LinkedIn as ways to get the inside scoop about the industry and companies you are most interested in working for.

The more research you do, the more likely the right career path will become evident to you.

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