The basics of good desk research involve:
- Knowing where to look and what to look for.
- Understanding the quality of the source material.
- Ensuring that you get the right information.
Step One: Knowing Where to Look and What to Look For
At the core of Desk Research is developing a list of resources. The list below includes resources that we find most useful in locating occupational information. You should first identify which resources will be relevant to your needs.
- O*net Online: A national database that provides comprehensive occupational overviews on more than 200,000 jobs in the United Sates. Visit http://online.onetcenter.org/
Labor Market Information
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics: Review labor market information to obtain projections on job and occupational trends at http://www.bls.gov/bls/occupation.htm.
- com: Explore salary ranges to ensure that a shift in occupation would meet your financial requirements at http://www.salary.com.
Professional Associations and Organizations
- Visit the professional association or organization relevant to your career choices to gain a broader perspective on the type of projects, people, issues and trends within the disciplines of interest to you. Many of these sites offer resources such as magazines and job descriptions that will give you a clearer idea on the variety of positions and niche markets that you could serve with your career assets.
Step Two: Be Creative In Generating Information
Sifting through and collecting research information can be quite lengthy and tedious. For some people, using the Internet and reading books are the most effective methods of research. For others, a more creative approach is required. It is important for you to judge which information gathering methods are best for you. Some of the more popular methods that can be used to collect, organize, and present research findings are listed below:
- Collage: The process of creating a collage can be an incredible tool to help you tap into your intuition and creativity to design your career or visions of you in your career.
- Dream Journal: Use a journal to write about your childhood dreams and fantasies as they relate to your career, and the types of work that you envision doing.
- Brainstorming: Brainstorming is an excellent way of developing many creative solutions to a career problem. It works by focusing on a problem, idea or career occupation and then coming up with solutions. Ideas should deliberately be as broad as possible.
Step Three: Ensuring You Get the Right Information
The golden rule for a successful outcome is to know what you are looking for and the question you are trying to answer. There is lots of information out there that will be interesting. Unless the information is important in answering your question, it should be avoided, as it will sidetrack you and slow you down.
The more conventional types of information that you will want to obtain includes occupational skills, companies in the market, salary range, educational requirements, credentials, and work environment factors. The less conventional types of information that you will need to assess include whether you like the industry, culture, driving distance to work, and other aspects that impact your quality of life.
Your research evaluation should include those bits of information that are meaningful to you. On the following page, you will find a worksheet called, “Career Choices Research,” to help you gather pertinent information on each career option. You can also create your own research tracking sheet. If you choose to use the worksheet on the next page, you should make copies of it prior to filling it in for the first time. This will enable you to have one sheet for each area that you want to research.