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Job market research - an important step

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Whether you're an undergraduate deciding on a career direction or a new grad contemplating enrolling in graduate school, an important and practical step in the process is to do some market research to make an informed decision. Be sure to research and find the answers to these two questions: 

  • What does the job market look like for that particular career?
  • What are my chances of finding employment in that field?

The good news is that most liberal arts majors have many options, so if your research reveals a particular career path is not showing much growth in jobs, you can choose another option.  For example, a degree in English can prepare you for entry level positions in a variety of industries -  education, publishing,  business, and public relations to name a few. 

Within those industries, there are numerous areas and employers for whom you could work. If you decide on publishing, will it be in editing, circulation, sales, production, marketing, advertising, promotion or administration? And for what segment of the publishing industry will you work? Will it be trade publications, newspapers, university press, educational publishing, magazines, independent publishers, or alternative media?

Because there are so many choices, it's important to do market research so you will know the job market trends in that particular field. In addition, research provides information about the skills and experience you need to develop to make you an attractive candidate. 

Most majors in liberal arts are also good preparation for careers that need advanced professional training like law or higher education.  Doing market research can confirm the availability of jobs after graduate school and alert you to both the potential of a challenging job search and/or the possibility of relocation to where there is more demand for the specialty.

Where can you go to find information about which industries, functions and locations have the best outlook for employment?   Here are two good sources:    

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the OOH is considered the source of occupational information. You'll find  information  about nearly 1,000 occupations, including the nature of the work, working conditions, training and educational requirements, career advancement, and job outlook over the next ten years, earnings potential, and more.

O*NET - Also created and maintained for the U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET provides comprehensive information about thousands of professions, with detailed descriptions of job responsibilities, required skills, preferred interests, general work styles and environments, and more.       

Additional links to other online resources are available on the Beatley Library Career Guide on Career Exploration.

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