TIP SHEET– How to Conduct Career Research – 5 Tips and 5 Resources


For proactive career management, and effective job search or if seeking career progression, you need to research labour market information, organisations and career information. This Tip Sheet was produced to provide some pointers on how to do that.

Career information can come from people, or systems. Most of the information a system provides, you can conduct an informational interview with someone who has done that role to gather insights that help you make a decision. An example of a career information system is any career website that offers career advice. A more detailed definition is –

“Career Information Systems, often computer-based or online but also in print, are designed to aid an individual or a group in their choice of career, employment, occupation or work by gathering together, organising and providing information about specific occupations, professions or organisations including descriptions of pay, conditions, training, qualifications and experience required.” http://www.elgpn.eu/elgpndb/view/191


TIP 1: Have a goal and triangulate your sources of information

Labour market information is all around you, but focus your research using the following 5 ways:

  • Have a goal – Be clear about what you are searching for and what you want to use the information for.
  • Try various sourcesIn terms of online sources, try Google Scholar for scholarly articles, job bank sites or career websites for example https://www.careers24.com/.
  • Make use of your e-mail subscriptions – Also register on sites for the companies you are interested in, follow them on social media and subscribe to newsletters.

Network value and uses

TIP 2: Make use of your social and professional network
  • Have a personal and professional network with 15 key roles, which you actively nurture and have a mutually beneficial relationship. Read my blog on this.
  • A network is a great source of information about networking events, professional pathways to follow, key resources and insights on skills in demand.
  • Network boundary spanners are better positioned to forecast trends and tell you what to look out for in the sector and in career research activities.


TIP 3: Do not “career sleepwalk” – proactively use social media to get profile and network
  • When networking online through social media have a clear goal for networking.
  • On Twitter and LinkedIn connect with individuals or follow posts from recognized subject matter experts or thought leaders. Participate in discussions such as Tweet Chats and crowdsource ideas from the network, it works and gets you noticed.
  • Keep your profile up to date . You can also participate in webinars are a great source of information, but be selective of the “experts”.
  • In addition, make use of professional associations or research institutes that produce whitepapers on sector trends. Join your targeted sector or occupation groups, follow thought leaders or experts so that you learn from them and see trends.


TIP 4: Research the organization’s culture and practices
  • Organisation research is a critical information source for your career decision-making. Research the values of the organisation/company, to assess values alignment.
  • When researching an organisation’s culture review their website to understand what they do, who with, their values and if possible access any publications they have produced.
  • Consider talking to people who know the organization or if possible those who work in the organisation. Ask them 3 questions, for in-depth responses and good reception.
  • If you have an opportunity to go to the office notice how people are dressed, the office layout, the atmosphere and what does where they are located say about them.


TIP 5: Career management is a marathon – adopt a long-term view 
  • Approach career planning and proactive career management as long-term goals. This means no matter you status, employed or not, you are continuously planning and acting.
  • Your job search plan or career progression plans should have monthly check in with your network, learning actions, personal profiling and branding online and experience gain.
  • Adopt the practice of lifelong learning. This means you practice “the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons”.
  • Use both paid and unpaid opportunities such as volunteering and internships to be in the workplace so that you are primed for emerging opportunities, to gather career information.

internship benefits vector illustration

Annotated Bibliography – References:

  1. LABOUR MARKET INFORMATIONStatistics South Africa website

https://www.statssa.gov.za/ To be proactive in your career management, job search or future career progression needs, you need to keep your eye on critical labour market information such as statistics. Stats SA, and a number of other independent research institutes, periodically produce reports about the status of the labour market in South Africa such as rate of unemployment, sectors where growth is happening, forecasting on skills in demand. Remember to triangulate and validate.

  1. NETWORKINGAdvice No-One Tells You

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bonniemarcus/2018/05/22/the-networking-advice-no-one-tells-you/#1f04cbfc7772  In this article you will have access to information about the challenges you could face while trying to use the strategy of networking to gather labour market or career information. The author provides a good analysis of this and strategies for you can use to overcome your self-limitations.

  1. HIDDEN JOB MARKET What is it?

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-is-the-hidden-job-market-2062004 This website is a very good source of career information. Go to it for most of your career services information, which is something lacking in South Africa. In terms of the Hidden Job Market, the article explains what it is very well, and provides great strategies for how you can tap into it.

  1. WHITEPAPERS ON TRENDShttps://www.nten.org

NTEN is a good example of a professional association or research institute that produce whitepapers on sector trends that you can subscribe. Below is an example of their work: https://www.nten.org/article/state-of-nonprofit-professional-development-march-2019/?nf_mdl=1

  1. CAREERS INFORMATION WEBSITEhttps://www.careers24.com/

Career24 is one of the few career information and job search focused websites in South Africa. They have a handy mobile site and an app that you can also download. They provide stats of job opening they have and you can search by location. You can also gain insights to the work place practices of your employer of choice as they provide employee rated feedback on companies and list the top 3 employers of choice. You can also access courses and career advice.

 The End!

 What next for Individuals: If you need support on how to utilise this career information for career planning, job search, career progression or CV/resume review, whether currently employed or not, get in touch using the e-mail address provided. Also share and follow this work 😊.

Ennie picture 

By: Ennie Chipembere Chikwema, Career Coach and Learning Expert 

E-mail: ennielifecoach@servicesgalore.co.za

LinkedIn Profile: https://za.linkedin.com/in/ennie-chipembere-chikwema-81a30910a

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/EnnieLifeCoach/

Twitter: @EnnieChipembere

Date published: 22 May 2019

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