When you get the chance to sit down or talk with someone who can give you insider information about the job and career potentials in an industry, occupation, or company, try to benefit from it. Don’t shy away from asking basic questions (if they’re not too personal), and do take notes!
There are five aspects of any job or a career that you need to know about to get a sense of whether that transition makes sense for you. These aspects may not be of equal importance to you, but all of them contribute to the “totality” of the job experience.
The work itself
What do the people you’re talking to do on a day-to-day basis? Do they spend most of their time in the office, on the phone, in a lab, or on the road? Do they typically work alone or as part of a team? Is the work routine or constantly changing? Is there deadline pressure? These are just a few of the basic questions to ask. Feel free to add whatever questions you like and, again, don’t avoid any question because you this it’s too simple. If you’re curious, ask.
How easy or difficult is it to break into and gain footing in the field, occupation, or company – right now? How extreme is the competition for jobs at your skill and experience level? Is there a demand for new people, or is there a surplus? And if there is a surplus, how big is it: 50 applicants for every opening or 500 applicants for every opening?
Career path movement
How quickly people typically move through the ranks in a field or profession varies from industry to industry, so it’s a good idea to find out early on about the typical timeframe for career advancement. In certain fields, such as teaching, advancement is largely a matter of seniority. In other fields, like sales, performance frequently takes precedence over tenure.
Note that career path patterns with some corporate organizations have changed, with multiple layers of middle management removed from their structures. Promotions in other words, no longer follow a predictable, hierarchical pattern. What is happening instead in many situations, is that your job stays essentially the same, but your responsibilities expand.
On average, what do people earn in the field, occupation, or profession you’re trying to learn more about? What are the typical salaries for entry-level employees, and what do the top performers make? Keep in mind that salary ranges in any given field can vary a great deal from company to company, and you want to consider factors like health insurance and other benefits.
In general, the more “glamorous” a field is, the lower the entry-level salaries are likely to be, with the law of supply and demand. Certain fields, too, are inherently less lucrative than others, but offer their employees a level of job satisfaction that make up for the lack of monetary rewards.
Some industries – like travel and hospitality, for example – differ from other lines of work primarily because of the lifestyle they offer. So, asking questions about lifestyle should be part of your interviewing strategy. Find out how much travel is involved and where it will take you. Get a feel for (it varies company to company) how often employees must work nights and weekends.
Try and get a sense for the pressure you’d be under on a day-to-day basis. Many people who start in major firms like law and accounting, earn high salaries. However, they often must work long hours, because it’s part of the culture.
- What’s the worst part of your job?
- What qualities does it take to succeed in this job, field, or profession?
- Which companies are the major players in this field?
- What do you like best about your job?
I always love to hear from you on job search and career management! Please feel free to comment below.