Top strategies for researching the jobs market

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Or something like that. Anyway, you need to do your homework when it comes to getting a job. Get the top tips here.

Why you need to do it 

To succeed in today’s competitive jobs market you need to be proactive. You can’t afford to sit there procrastinating and hope the perfect job will one day land in your lap. 

You need to kick-start your efforts by thoroughly researching the job market to establish a clear picture of what opportunities exist and where, what skills are in demand and which organisations are recruiting. This will also prove invaluable at interview stage as you will have already built up a broad base of knowledge about the industry or sector.

1) Gather intelligence

Use all available media – the broadsheets, trade and specialist magazines, industry association websites and even interactive television – to discover more about what is happening in engineering. Look out for stories on the latest issues the sector is facing, technical developments, as well as on takeovers, mergers and contract wins. Sign up for industry- and sector-specific news briefings and feeds from online versions of relevant publications and industry bodies. This provides a time-efficient way of helping keep knowledge up-to-date.

2) Sift what you find

Having viewed the bigger picture, refine your research to identify what skills and experience employers are looking for and which sectors of the market are most buoyant. Career sections of newspapers and magazines will run articles focusing on this but the job ads they carry are one of the best ways of gleaning this information. 

As well as printed publications, job boards are a major source of job ads and can be more up-to-date. Make a note of what skills and experience are in demand and what job roles are the most popular. They’ll also provide an indication of salary levels and geographical hotspots for particular types of engineering roles. 

Specialist engineering job boards are more tuned in to the market than some of the generalist boards so regularly check these and sign up to relevant news feeds and jobs-by-email services.  

3) Leverage your contacts 

To maximise your chances of success, devote time to building a strong personal network of contacts from whom you can also learn about potential openings. Attend career fairs, exhibitions and other events where you can talk to delegates and strike up important connections that will help enlarge your network further. 

Professional networking and social media sites such as LinkedIn, XING and Facebook also provide a powerful and expedient way to network and find out more information. The more professionally oriented sites also allow you to hook up with specific groups: keying in ‘engineering’ in LinkedIn’s groups’ directory, for instance, returns more than 2,000 professional groups.

4) Gen up on your chosen company

When ready to target a specific company, comb for details on its corporate website. As well as its career section, go to the about us and press or media sections. The latter will typically hold press releases detailing the company’s news archive. 

If it’s a public-listed company, obtain its annual report and accounts. Carry out a Google or other online search for some independent information and check out the comparison site and the Sunday Times Best Companies website. 

Find out if the company has a Facebook site, whether it posts videos on YouTube or can be followed on Twitter. Research carried out by recruitment advertising and communications company TMP Worldwide and graduate recruitment site TargetJobs found that nearly one third of graduates surveyed are also using social media to talk directly to current employees to check whether their expectations were met after being taken on. 


Word from the wise

Simon Roberts is regional manager, West Midlands, at specialist engineering recruitment company Jonathan Lee Recruitment

1) Sketch what your ideal job looks like, so research is more targeted.

2) Think about those industries which are likely to flourish in the future, such as renewable energy, nuclear and power generation.

3) Be aware that social media can be a double-edged sword: you can use it to directly access people that work at companies of interest but employers are also using it to check up on candidates.

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