The first post in this series looked at researching an industry, and the second post focused on researching organizations within an industry.

Now you’re ready to drill down even further and explore specific positions within those organizations.

When researching a specific position (for example, project manager), pay attention to the following:

  • Required skills and/or education.
  • Characteristics of a successful employee in that position.
  • What people enjoy most about the position.
  • Challenges of the position.
  • Who you would work with (team, internal partners, clients/public).
  • Priorities of the position, time spent on tasks.
  • The value the organization places on the department.

Some of these things are easy to find, others may take a little more legwork.


Position Research Strategies and Tools

By this point, you should have a good idea what kinds of positions you’re interested in. Now it’s time to look at how your strengths could align with available jobs.

  • Identify possible job titles and industries that might be a good fit for you and your skills, interests, and values.
  • Find out if the organizations you are interested in are hiring in your field. Many companies will have that information on their website, but if not, you may need leverage your network to learn the inside scoop.
  • Use a search engine, such as Google, or an organization’s website to try to find an organizational chart for the department or company. An organizational chart will help you understand where the position fits in the company as a whole.
  • Carefully read job descriptions to identify required and preferred skills, qualifications, and main job duties.
  • Customize your resume highlighting relevant experience that qualifies you for that specific job. A resume or CV tailored to fit the employer’s needs will stand out from the rest.
  • Reach out to your network and arrange an informational interview  with a current or former employee to gain inside information.
  • Search LinkedIn for profiles of people working in the specific position you are interested in. Gain insight by reviewing their background, education, and involvement with professional associations.
  • Networking. Look online or ask others who are working in that field if there are networking groups that meet on a regular basis that you could attend. Are there recruiters who handle the positions you’re interested in? Identify them and make sure they have your resume.
  • Social media. You have used LinkedIn and Twitter to research industries and organizations, and now you can use them to research specific positions. Many professionals put their job title in their profile, allowing you to identify them and see what they’re talking about online. Some may be willing to let you ask them questions about their job and possibly provide job-hunting tips. Joining specific LinkedIn groups provides insight into current topics in the field and facilitates making connections with relevant professionals.


Next Steps: Taking Action

As you look through the research you’ve compiled, don’t forget to reflect on your potential “fit” for the industry, organization, and preferred positions. Take action on what you learn from your self-discovery and exploration and identify how you can best contribute to an industry or organization, and meet the requirements of specific positions.

Don’t be discouraged when you receive a rejection. It happens to everyone. Keep trying, keep researching, and keep networking.

Finally, gather support during this process. Talk to people who have made successful career changes or who have advanced in their chosen profession. They may have advice or inside tips about what’s happening in the field or the career path, and they may know people who can help you.


This is the third post in a three-part series on how to use research to find a job.


The Capella Career Center’s mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.