Ways of Market Research

How to Find Information

As soon as you arrive at the library, walk around and familiarize yourself with the layout of the reference section, and then head for the locator card file or computer. Review the file on directories to see what is generally available, and then make some notes on items that appear to offer the kinds of information you need. You will discover that there are hundreds of directories, listing every imaginable bit of information you would want. Be careful that those you select to review are current. There is no point in sending a letter to the CEO of a corporation when he has been dead and buried for ten years.

One of the first directories to review will be the Directory of Directories, published by Gale Research Co., Detroit, Michigan. This book will help you to move quickly through the maze and focus on information significant to your job search. Another good starting source is the Directory of Information Services, published by Detroit Information Enterprises. This is a reference periodical covering business and industrial directories, scientific and professional rosters, and other lists and guides of all kinds.

You should also review Ward's Directory of the Largest U.S. Corporations, Ward's Directory of Private U.S. Corporations, and Fortune's Directory of U.S. Corporations. These books will give you names and addresses of companies and corporate officers by geographic location and industry. To locate information on specific industries you should look at books like Emerson's Directory of Leading U.S. Accounting Firms and the National League of Cities Directory of Local Chief Executives, Elected and Administrative Officials. Also check directories of companies doing business in various states published by state economic development offices, directories of companies doing business in foreign countries, state banking association directories, and other directories.

A particularly good source for finding companies by geographic area or industry is Duns Marketing Service Million-Dollar Directories.

This series has a job bank book for virtually every major city in the United States. Each book provides the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of hundreds of companies by state, along with the names of the employment or personnel managers. You will also find listed A Directory of Employment Resources Offered by Associations and Other Organizations, which will provide you with even more information on helpful sources. Don't forget to review Rand McNally's Commercial Atlas for statistical data including population, income, and growth patterns down to city and county level. You will also find listings of major companies doing business in the areas and the economic outlook for the future.

As your prospect list begins to grow, you should review the Encyclopedia of Associations published by Gale Research Co. for information on 22,000 fraternal, professional, and trade associations. Here you will find data on the history, size, and goals of various associations, information that will help you decide which organization to contact or to join.

If you're having problems trying to decide where your talents lie or what career field you can enter, there are many publications that can help you focus your direction. The Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Department of Labor, provides general information on various career fields, including qualifications for entry, earning potential and future needs in the economy for that career's skills. The Directory of Career Training and Development Programs, published by the Ready Reference Press, Santa Monica, California, lists companies and business organizations offering professional training and internship programs in business, retailing, finance, hospitality, and other industries. Ready Reference Press also publishes the Directory of Internships, Work Experience Programs. This can give you some solid ideas if you need that kind of help. Another good source is The Career Guide published by Duns Marketing Services of New York, New York.

One indispensable source is the Directory of Executive Recruiters ($44.95 for the 1993 edition from Kennedy Publications, Templeton Road, Fitzwilliam, NH 03447, 1-800-531-0007; VISA and MasterCard accepted). This book has contact information on hundreds of executive search firms and some good information on how you can use them to help in your job search. As your search narrows and you begin to focus on specific companies, you should review Where to Find Business Information, published by John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York, which will give you some hints to keep you headed in the right direction. To locate current articles of interest concerning specific industries or companies, spend some time browsing through the Business Periodicals Index published annually by the H. W. Wilson Company. This will be your guide to articles in various publications on companies, people, industries, compensation, and issues. This source will give you current information to help you prepare for interviews. To check out a specific company, take a look at Standard and Poor's Corporation Records for background, earnings, officers, number of employees, and contact information. Also, Moody's Investors Service publishes Municipal and Government Manuals as well as manuals on banking and finance, industrials, transportation, and public utilities. For the insurance industry, be sure to look at Best's Guide.

For salary information there is as much data available as there is on other subjects. The Business Periodicals Index is a good place to start to find out what has been written in the form of news and information stories. But you should also review John Wright's book. The American Almanac of fobs and Salaries. For college grads, the College Placement Council's Annual Salary Survey for College Graduates will help to add to your information database. Review of this data will help you to assess your value based upon your skills and the median incomes for various career fields.

Build Your Intelligence Estimate

The final subject for your research is the employment ad itself. Read every employment advertisement you can find for your specialty. Make notes on the qualifications listed in each ad. Try to find the commonly used terms for specific qualifications and then apply them to your own background for use in your resume. For example, most ads for human resource managers require that an individual have experience in employee relations and employee appraisal systems. If that is a commonly noted qualification, then it is critically important that your resume list those functions as experience you have had. These terms can serve as the perfect, attention-grabbing functional subheadings you can use to organize the presentation of your military career.

As your research continues, be alert for leads on potential job vacancies. Pay particular attention to the trade journals for job advertisements. Also, check for articles written by executives in your field on subjects of interest to you. Make notes for future use. Watch for information on companies that win contracts to provide goods or services and that might be hiring someone with your skills. Look for management changes that might indicate that a major shakeup could occur in a company in the near future. All of these are leads for jobs and should be followed up with a letter (and a copy of your resume) offering your services based upon the specific reason you saw a potential opportunity.

A final source that can be a real asset is the National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW), published by the Wall Street journal. This publication comes out every Sunday and is a compilation of the employment ads from all the regional editions of the Wall Street Journal during the past week. It is especially helpful to job seekers with professional qualifications in various business-related fields. More importantly, the NBEW carries a number of stories each week written by employment executives with tips on the job search that can be particularly helpful in adjusting your marketing plan.

In many ways your research and job-search efforts will coincide. While seeking information, you are obviously going to come across opportunities to get your resume into the hands of some executive who is seeking to fill a vacancy. You should always be alert for information that could help you land an interview.

No Rest for the Weary

Research is an ongoing process that will last throughout the job search. Initially you will have a steep learning curve as you collect information to get you started. Later, as you begin to land interviews, you will find it necessary to focus your research to check out potential employers, compensation, and benefits. Don't think you can go in blind. That can be a sure path to poor performance in the interview and to mediocrity in the kind of position vacancies you locate. The competition is stiff, and the best-prepared candidate is going to make the best impression.