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Occupational and labour market research

Occupational and labour market research

Once you understand your skills, interests, values, personality preferences, and other influencing factors, have examined your experiences for patterns and themes that further define who you are, and have created a vision of your ideal future, the next step in planning your career is to gather quality information regarding occupations and the labour market.

Begin by increasing your connections. This will put you in a stronger position to hear about new and existing careers as well as helpful trends and opportunities. Seek new experiences. You can also conduct thorough research using web and/or print resources. Once you have narrowed your options to a manageable number (i.e., a maximum of three) and are satisfied that you have gathered sufficient information to help with your decision, speak with people working in these occupations (i.e., information interviews). To deepen your understanding of the occupation, consider arranging a job shadowing experience. When you believe you have reached a tentative decision, the final step is to seek out paid or unpaid work as a final test of your suitability to the chosen occupation. This section will guide you through this process.

If you do not have ideas for potential occupations to research, try one or more of the following:

  1. Use self-assessment tools, such as those provided in the Self-assessment section, that generate lists of occupations for you to consider (e.g., Strong Interest Inventory (SII), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Career Cruising, Choices Planner, and TypeFocus)
  2. Review print (in Centre for Career Development) and online resources on the Centre for Career Development website. See, for example, those that relate various occupations to university or college majors (i.e., "What can I do with a major in ...?") or to personality traits (e.g., jobs for adventurous types). You might also read compilations of occupations listed alphabetically or by field (e.g., health, environment, etc.)
  3. Go to the Career Planning and Job Search page on the Centre for Career Development website and choose one or two job posting sites (under “Postings by Field”, or any of the other categories listed) to explore. Scan the postings for each site and identify those jobs that look interesting, regardless of whether you consider yourself qualified. Review the jobs you identified and look for patterns that caught your eye.
  4. Brainstorm with supportive family members and friends: those who know you well can often provide you with insights and suggestions
  5. Visualize your dream job. If you have completed the Create a vision statement in Self-assessment, revisit your vision and see if you can derive more clues as to the nature of the work it suggests. If you have not completed this activity, try it now.
University of Waterloo

Centre for Career Development