Time for Change – Phase 5: Job & Employer Research

Congratulations! You have reached your last phase of career planning. Although you have not quite begun your next employment journey, you have hopefully constructed a pretty clever road map to help guide your success.

So, let’s quickly recap and look at what each of these career planning phases helped you to learn. This is really about reflection and positive reinforcement to remind you of the progress you made and how close you are to starting your next journey toward your new employment opportunity.

  • By working through phase 1: Feel Then Deal (Health First), you were able to overcome the mental and emotional stress of your job situation and developed some excellent coping strategies to move forward.
  • In phase 2: Assess Yourself, you were able to assess, evaluate and identify your values, beliefs, interests and personality to determine your expectations and what “everything” truly means to you in relation to your next occupation.
  • Through Phase 3: Labour Market Research & Job Trends, you were able to skillfully conduct labour market research to identify trending industries and positions, in order to help you choose realistic job targets in the current job market
  • During phase 4: Skill Analysis, you were able to break down your past 10 years of experience, skills and education to uncover your greatest professional strengths and identify areas that you need to improve, in order to help determine what choices you have in terms of your next career path/occupation.

Now you have reached phase 5 and it’s all about job and employer research. Through your labour market research you were able to determine what industries and positions are trending and you can now begin researching those various industries and positions for information regarding required skills, education, certifications, and of course salary information.

It is also highly recommended that you research all of the employers in your area who have these positions open to get acquainted with who they are, what they do…(aside from the job they have posted), who they may have other business with, if they have sustainability and will be around in a year, 5 years, 10 years, if they are involved in new or upcoming projects/equitable business ventures, and if they support their community (social responsibility).

Perhaps the most important question you can ask yourself before you start applying for new employment opportunities, is; “How do I know I want to work for this company, if I don’t know anything about them?” If you want the best results out of your job search and interviews, my best advice is to always do your research before you apply.

Phase 5 (step 1): Research Job Information

Go to your local government page and start exploring the different positions your research has provided. For Alberta you will find this information at Alberta Learning and Information Service (ALIS) websiteThere is a wealth of information about positions, industries, salaries and educational requirements for the positions. Some of the positions even have videos of people who have acquired positions in their field of interest describing their experiences. Take a glance at all the things you can view about jobs in the picture below…


At the top of the page, you will see a search box with 4 tabs; entire site, occupation, wage, education, and certification. Hint: The “entire site” tab will allow you to search by specific job title. On the left side of the page, you will see the navigation tool, which will link you to those various pages and just to note…you may want to click on “Emerging Occupations,” as it is pretty fantastic to know what occupations are gaining popularity and growing in the labour market. On the right side of the page, you will be able to set filters based on your individual preferences.

From your research, what did you learn?

  • Do you have the required skills for the positions you researched?
  • Do you have the required education or will you need more?
  • Are these positions really an option for you based on the requirements?
  • Are these positions worth investigating further through the employers posting them?

Phase 5 (Step 2): Research Employers

From your labour market research results, it is time to start researching the employers who have posted the positions you are qualified for.  It is not enough that you read the job description, as at this point you should really be focused on gathering details about the employer, in order to help you decide if applying with their company is worth your time and effort. I really stress this part of the research because you deserve to be employed but more importantly, you deserve to be happy in your chosen profession/occupation.

Time and time again, I have talked with clients who have worked in dead end jobs or jobs that truly made them miserable and the first thing I always ask, is “did you research the company, before you applied?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but most often the answer is something like “well, I looked at their website,” to which my reply is, “did you read all of the information on the website or just the job you applied for?” and then “did you research their company anywhere other than their website?”  Surprisingly, (or not so much really) the answer is usually “no.”

I don’t mean to be harsh, but when you are making changes in your life, isn’t it really your responsibility to be informed before making decisions that could potentially make or break you? Finding a survival job is one thing but finding a job that you will be happy with in the long-term does require some effort on your part and that effort includes research. The difference between having a satisfactory job and having job satisfaction is HUGE! For more insight please see my other blog series, Preparing for Job Satisfaction.”

Please keep in mind, the employer’s website is only one avenue to conduct research. Let’s be real, the employer is only going to provide the information they want you to know about. While the information they provide can be helpful, it is quite subjective and biased, as it relates only to the positive spin on the company, and for research purposes, that isn’t enough. In most cases, the employer’s website will give you all the “fluffy” details but when it comes to transparency, will the website also define the challenges the company may be faced with? Probably Not. For that information, you will need to think outside the box and look to other sources, including:

  • At Glassdoor you can find company reviews posted by current and previous employees, search and compare salaries, conduct a job search, and learn more about interviews  (this is my personal favourite!)  
  • Business pages in the newspaper or other business/industry publications (newspapers and publications can be found at your local library)
  • LinkedIn
  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter)
  • Better Business Bureau & Chamber of Commerce

Other ways to conduct employer research may also include:

  • Setting up informational interviews with the employer
  • Networking with employees of the company
  • Attending trade shows and other events the company is involved in

If you are serious about finding work, you will need to make yourself visible, make connections and spend time networking with people in the industry of interest as part of your overall job search strategy. I know networking is hard and can be scary or overwhelming, but you are not doing yourself any favours by isolating yourself to online job boards, when there is a world full of interesting people just waiting to meet you! Will you meet the world? Perhaps not, but you may meet people who are willing to assist you in finding your next job, and who knows, you may even make connections beyond your job search. Need more information about networking? Have a look at “Networking for Jobs or Lifetime Opportunities” 

Researching employers during your job search is ongoing, and something you should be doing for each and every job you want to apply for. Although it may be time consuming and sometimes rather tedious, being informed about the company before you apply to or accept a job from any employer may save you a lot of disappointment in the long run. Researching the employer should always be your top priority when searching for work.

Now that you have created your road-map for successfully finding your next employment opportunity, maybe it’s time for an update to your resume. For helpful strategies in developing your next resume, please have a look at “Tailor Your Resume and Stay on TRACK”

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