Marketing Research and Your Career
Marketing research is one of the keys to success in your career search, just as it is with marketing. For most of you, companies will not seek you out and offer you jobs. Instead, you will have to develop a marketing research plan that allows you to delve into the “hidden job market,” where a great majority of job openings exist.
But job and career research can be — and should be — so much more than just researching companies to find job leads. You’ll also need to research companies to gather key information that you’ll want to use in your cover letters and job interviews to showcase your knowledge. But, that’s not all. You’ll also want to conduct research to discover each prospective employer’s corporate culture and value structure; the consequences of working for an organization that has different values can be disastrous.
Marketing research is the process of planning, collecting, and analyzing data relevant to a particular decision; for your Career Journal, the decision is gaining more information about a career path, a particular set of graduate programs, or a particular set of companies, depending on the focus of your journal.
You’ll want to use the steps in the marketing research process and apply the process to your job search:
- Defining the problem and research objectives. Depending upon where you are in your journal quest, this issue — the problem — could be better understanding your career choice (what is a CPA anyway?), or gathering information on graduate programs, or developing a list of companies where you would like to work.
- Developing the research plan and collecting information. This step is where the researcher develops a plan for gathering primary and secondary data. For your job and career search, it’s likely most of your information will be collected from secondary sources, such as career books, business periodicals, corporate annual reports, and the Web. However, do not discount the use of informational interviews to gather information. (Consider reading: Researching Employers through Informational Interviews.)
- Implementing the research plan — collecting and analyzing the data. It is during this step that the researcher actually collects the data, following the plan developed in the second step.
- Implementing and reporting the finds. It is in this step that the researcher interprets the findings and draws conclusions based on these findings. It is in this step that you would review the work you have done — on careers, companies, or graduate programs — and reflect on the information you gathered, what you’ve learned, and whether you need to collect more information.
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