Guest post by Annie Favreau, Inside Jobs
Interviewers want to see applicants who are focused, informed, and have potential for growth. But the stress of looking for employment often means job seekers pursue positions in scatter-shot ways, going for volume over quality—which generally makes for an unsuccessful search.
My advice? Draw a deep breath, and check out a career exploration site. By taking advantage of the tools supplied by these types of websites, you’ll gain the direction and in-depth information that will give you a leg up on the competition. Here’s how:
They help you see the range of possibilities. Job hunters often come into the process with set ideas about what field/job/type of career would help them thrive, but it pays to take an hour and open your mind. By freely researching the thousands of job descriptions and articles on career exploration sites, you can discover work options you wouldn’t have considered on your own. Most sites have tools to facilitate this process, like the “Show me Jobs…” tool on Inside Jobs that lets you enter a job title, then look through a list of positions that use similar skill sets but are more lucrative, more social, etc.
They help you focus your search. Once you’ve figured out a field you’d like to break into, career exploration sites can point you toward less well-known positions. For example, everyone knows what a Photographer does, but you might not have thought about a career as a Forensic Photographer, or an Underwater Photographer.
Why’s this important? The more visible a job, the more applicants it will have. By choosing a smaller career niche, you increase your chances of having someone actually look at your resume.
They help you understand your field. Nobody works in a vacuum, so career exploration sites are often designed to show you how jobs are connected. For instance, if you read the description of a 3D Animator, you may find links to positions that are related, like Texture Artist or Concept Artist.
The more informed you are about an industry as a whole, the better. First, you can leverage this information to craft a more targeted resume. Second, you’re more likely to impress interviewers if you’ve done your research and have a firm understanding of the field you are about to enter.
They help you get that competitive edge. On most career exploration sites you’ll find information about any training or education that is required for a given position. Even if additional education isn’t necessary, they will often let you know what training—like an internship, apprenticeship, or advanced degree—will set you apart from the other candidates.
Hunting for a job is never going to be a walk in the park. But the right tools make it easy for you to take the first steps toward landing your next interview, and your next job.
Annie Favreau writes and works for Inside Jobs, a career exploration site “where people can explore what opportunities exist and learn what paths can take them there.”