A key piece of advice careers advisers will tell you is, always keep up to date with what is happening in your chosen sector. This is because keeping up with your sector is very important to ensure that you are aware of; coming trends and skills needs, how your skills and experience match the industry wants, recruitment processes as well as the types of opportunities on offer to new graduates. In today’s challenging graduate market this advice is more important than ever.
Thankfully, more and more students are undertaking research on their sector while they are studying. In fact, a recent report by High Flyers* indicated that over a third of new students are now starting their career research in their first year of study in order to be well prepared for their graduation and transition into the graduate market.
If you haven’t started your sector research yet, you are putting yourself at a serious disadvantage for the future, especially as keeping up to date with your sector can be a simple, painless process.
Here are my top tips for successfully building your sector knowledge that helps you avoid information overload and builds a realistic understanding of your sector and its employment needs;
- Create a plan for your sector research: building a strategy or plan for your sector research will stop you becoming overwhelmed with the range of labour market data that is available. Identify what career interests you have and stay focused. The best way to do this is to break down your research into three broad areas; sector ( overview of your industry such as trends/recruitment /growth etc.) , careers ( types of opportunities available and future needs) and finally employers ( who are they, when do they recruit etc.)
- Get information sent to you: In today’s social media driven world there is no excuse for not being informed when you can have e-newsletters, industry e- journals and magazines sent to your email inbox or phone.
- Join professional networks and organisations: Take advantage of your student years by joining professional organisations and networks on reduced student rates. This is great way to keep up to date with developments in your sector and become visible to others and build contacts before you graduate.
- Start your job hunt early: build in time to your week that is specially for job hunting-even if you are not at the stage to apply. Job hunting in this way will give you loads of information on current trends in the market and keep you up to date on future skill needs. Look at how employers are describing their opportunity, what job titles are they using? what skills and experience are they looking for and what types of jobs are more in demand? This will help you understand how your skills and experience fit into market needs, where your gaps might be and help you prepare for making applications in the future. Be curious and look at everything. And don’t be put off by job titles you don’t recognise as new roles are being developed all the time.
- Keep a good record of your industry research: keep a ‘little address book’ of employers that you are interested in; when do they recruit, how do they recruit and what do they recruit for. This book will be invaluable in helping you the future! And why not keep a file on sector developments, future trends and innovation.
- Reflect on your findings: It is no use building your industry knowledge if you don’t apply it in practice. So take time to reflect on your industry research findings. What is your research telling you about the health of your sector? Are the vacancies available matching your career ambitions? Are you developing relevant skills and experience for the sector, what can you further develop? etc,
- Get out there…One of the best ways to build your sector knowledge is to get out there and gain experience first hand. Why not meet with a creative professional who is already in the career area that you are interested in?
If you are not sure about how to develop great sector research or want further information, why not make an appointment with the GSA Career service to discuss your options.
For further resources on Creative sector information can be found on the ‘Useful links’ page on this blog or why not check out:
- Creative & Cultural Skills Council Blueprint: http://creative-blueprint.co.uk/
- Creative Skillset Census: http://www.creativeskillset.org/research/activity/census/
- BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21857276
- High Flyers Report: http://www.highfliers.co.uk/download/GMRelease13.pdf