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How to Do Career Research - Part 1: The Big Picture

Career change and research go hand-in-hand. With so many opportunities available in today’s labor market, the ability to find and interpret accurate information about your next steps is crucial for transitioning into a new role with clarity and confidence. Among other things, you will need to gather information on transferable skills, training requirements, working conditions, salary, advancement opportunities, and market demand for the future roles you are considering.

Three Reasons Why Career Research Is Difficult

Unfortunately, this is where most career changers get tripped up. They often struggle with uncertainty, overwhelm, and exhaustion when trying to do their own research, and a result, they find it hard to keep going.

But why exactly do career changers get tripped up? I can think of at least three reasons:

First, they haven’t completed self-assessments before the research phase. Because they haven’t assessed their core values, skills, interests, personality type and ideal working conditions, they find it hard to recognize opportunities that fit with their unique needs. Not having done enough self-reflection beforehand, they get lost in too many options or reject prospects that would otherwise be a great fit. This often leads to confusion and burnout.

Second, they don’t know how to gather and interpret career information. Perhaps they are clear about their values, skills, and interests, but they aren’t sure how to study different job titles, roles, and industries on their own. Without knowing where to find accurate career information, what to do with conflicting information, or how to organize the information effectively, they end up stalling halfway through the research process.

Third, they underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes to do the research well. On average, it takes career changers roughly 8 weeks to gather the information they need through websites, online databases, and in-person interviews.[1] That is a lot of work, especially if you are already employed full-time! Is it any wonder, then, that career changers feel tempted to fast-forward through their research and simply “leap” into their next job, hoping that it will be a good fit?

Indeed, this is sobering to think about. So what can be done? Do any of these scenarios describe you? If they do, then don’t lose heart. It is hard to investigate career options all on your own, but there is hope.

A Better Way To Do Career Research