By Steven Starks, Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix
Jobseekers beware. If you are not up-to-date on industry trends, you may hurt your prospects during the job hunt.
With new disruptive technologies emerging and customer wants and needs constantly shifting, industry trends are in a constant state of flux. Keeping up to date with your industry will help you demonstrate relevant expertise on your resume and cover letter, during an interview, and in your networking interactions.
If you are currently employed, seeking other opportunities or considering starting a business, follow these six tips to help you stay in the know.
- Set up Google alerts and search keywords related to your target industry
On a weekly basis, take at least an hour to do a Google search on your industry to stay abreast of recent news and changes. You can also conduct a search with Google Blogs to see what other professionals are saying about your field or review Google Trends to track what’s “hot” around specific topics.
Many of us use Google Alerts to set up custom keyword searches that are updated daily and sent to our designated email addresses. Make sure to update your keywords regularly and include the names of top players in your field, organizations, industries, and trade shows.
- Join alumni associations and professional organizations
Participate in alumni social events offered by your alma mater’s local chapter, attend industry panels, and take advantage of career resources. Similarly, professional associations offer a wealth of industry information, as well as many opportunities for networking and professional growth. Many professional associations maintain industry-specific listservs – an application that distributes messages to subscribers on an electronic mailing list – and online forums around certain topics. If you’re a member of one or more professional associations, check your member newsletter or the association’s publications on how to join their listservs.
- Conduct informational interviews
An informational interview — in which you interview someone who works in a career or for a company that interests you — is one of the best resources for industry-specific business information. Prepare a list of interview questions for working professionals that you admire pertaining to new trends, developments, problems or challenges, key players and more. Always ask them for referrals to other professionals. Offer them any assistance you can in return, and be sure to send a thank-you card or email expressing gratitude for sharing their knowledge and expertise.
- Find mentors
Mentors can share in-depth industry knowledge and insights. They can also help with your networking efforts by introducing you to others in the field and can provide general career advice. Be sure to look into your alma mater’s mentoring program or take advantage of your company’s mentoring program if it offers one. Professional colleagues and retirees can also serve as great mentors.
- Attend industry conferences and read trade magazines
Industry conferences and trade shows provide an effective way to meet many people in your target industry at one time. These are an excellent place to learn about the latest industry trends, as well as the projected future of your industry or field.
Another useful tool is industry-related magazines. These provide information on the latest news, innovations, and trends in the field. Online subscription-based resources provide in-depth analysis of specific companies and industries.
- Tweet your way to information
Do you use Twitter? If not, you should start. Twitter contains enormous amounts of information and is a great tool to stay up-to-date. The best way to search Twitter for industry-specific tweets is via hashtags, which is the “#” sign followed by a keyword — for example, “#projectmanagement” or “#nursingjobs.” You can follow the Twitter feeds of well-known industry leaders to get insight on trends and future projections.
About Steven Starks:
Steven Starks is a Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix. He has been with the University for 11 years, also serving as a career coach for five years and a senior academic counselor. Starks is a National Certified Counselor and a featured career coach with TheMuse.com. Previously, he worked in the mental health industry providing individual and group therapy for clients struggling with severe mental illness, abuse, and trauma. Starks holds a Master’s in Psychology from University of Phoenix and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Walden University.