My client Marty felt overwhelmed and anxious. We had coached through a productive process so that he had figured out what he wanted to do, and with whom. “Now’s the part I really dread,” he told me. “I don’t know like research and am afraid it’s going to take too much time.”
Well, research is key; and should not be sidestepped ever when you have defined your positioning statement and your target employer list. Then research is a must. But take heart! This is not the time to panic! I gave Marty a tip I’ll share with you.
You don’t have to learn how to do research. You need to learn how to ask for it!
“I want to know the 100 largest software development companies in Minnesota that have been in business fewer than 12 years. If these companies are relatively young but large, my gut tells me they’re headed in a good direction. And I want to be on board.”
Marty’s pitch above was not perfect, and he often fleshed it out to reveal more information. But the statement typically was great for sharing initially with someone who could help him. So, who was this mystery person?
The reference librarian
- One of your best friends in job-search research is your local librarian. I don’t know when the last time was you were in a library, but the experience has far transcended shelves of books! Libraries today are amazing media centers, offering everything from DVDs you can check out, to computer labs connected to just about every database in the world. Some libraries even sponsor job clubs or job search training. So go to your closest library! The best time to hit is when it first opens in the morning.
- Humbly ask. Marty didn’t have to know how to find every one of the emerging and top 100 largest software companies in Minnesota. He had to walk into his library, find the reference librarian. He had to then admit that he hadn’t a clue and needed help. He told me the conversation went like this: “I’m Marty Jones, a job seeker. I need to build a list of the 100 largest software companies in Minnesota that have been in business less than 12 years. Can you help me build a list of these?” Nancy, the reference librarian at Marty’s community library said, “Absolutely, Mr. Jones!”
- Don’t be deterred. If one librarian is not helpful, find another. Visit a different time when someone else has the shift. Go to a different branch. Go to a different suburb or town if you have to. If you have a college or university in addition to your community library, go there. Career center research specialists live for this stuff! They are typically knowledgeable in all databases of companies and organizations, and can help you find lists like Marty’s—and every other type imaginable. There may be a fee for these visits. It’s worth it!
- It’s a gold mine. I’m not telling you that the first or each visit to your library will be productive. But that right librarian is out there. And when you find him or her, you’ve struck gold! Somewhere one is waiting for you, ready to be your detective, your investigator, the Watson to your Sherlock. The more challenging the research, the better. This is what they do! Ask for help, accept that help, and get on with the other phases of your job search.
A reference librarian, media specialist—whatever the title— is someone who went to school and chose to conduct research using the latest technologies. For a living! How can you lose asking this person for help? How much is your time worth? How valuable is it to have that key information in your hands, so that you can then market and go get what you want?! Think about it. This type of professional can keep you from reinventing the wheel. Marty told me it was “the best thing since sliced bread.” His fears were alleviated when he found someone to take the research monkey off his back!