Your Job Search and Industry Trend Crystal Ball

Okay, so I made that up. There’s no such thing as a job search and industry trend crystal ball. Nevertheless, that’s one of the responses I received to a recent survey question about how I could do more to help clients–that is, he/she mentioned something about a crystal ball, and I added the rest! I have never been a fortune-teller, not in this life or any other I may have had. Facetiousness aside, what I would personally do and would recommend to the person who submitted the comment (the survey responses were anonymous) is to consult as many reputable and hopefully reliable sources as I reasonably could and base my actions on that.

Keep Up to Date with Occupation or Industry Trends

Whether it’s related to the occupation or industry you’re currently in or one you’re considering switching to, you need to stay on top of current and newly emerging trends by maintaining a list of information sources and taking time periodically to access and evaluate their information. Note: The sources can be online or offline, including live human beings–don’t limit yourself needlessly. For example: If you have an “in” with experts in your field, cherish those relationships and tap into them. Just remember to make them a two-way street by giving something in return when you can.

I don’t believe any one person can be expert and up to date on every occupation or industry out there now, much less the ones that will emerge in years to come. What you might find useful is to rank your research efforts by category, such as the following: specific to your occupation/industry; related to occupations/industries that somehow interact with yours; and a wider-view approach that helps keep you from focusing too narrowly on your own employment niche.

Occupation and Industry Trend Sources

Here’s a partial list of sources to identify trend information involving the career area you’re interested in and keep as current as possible, as well as to get an idea of what might be coming down the pike later:

  • Google the phrase: “________ industry trends” (fill in the blank with your industry). You’re likely to get a long list of references. Be aware that while some resources are free, others are fee-based and the fee can be high. Also, some are not as current as you might like and need to be viewed with that in mind–check the dates of articles, for instance, and try to find the most recent.
  • Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website, which has a huge amount of free data (almost too much, in some cases), including employment trends, industry status and salary ranges. Information available on the site includes a Career Guide to Industries and the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). Note: The OOH 2012-13 edition is due out in late March of 2012.
  • Sign up as a subscriber on the BLS website. It’s free, and you can select the publications you want to receive updates on from a long list of them. It can also be a good idea to sign up as a subscriber on other resource websites that offer such an option (many do–some for free, some not).
  • Identify and follow (read regularly) blogs that relate to your occupation and/or industry. I believe there are millions of blogs being published today, so you’re bound to find at least a few!
  • If you’re not already a member of professional organizations related to your field of interest, try to find at least one and join it–ideally, one that not only has great online member resources but also local chapters that might give you an opportunity to establish in-person relationships with knowledgeable individuals.
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