Career and job trends

Market Intelligence (MI) is the information relevant to a company's markets, gathered and analyzed specifically for the purpose of accurate and confident decision-making in determining market opportunity, market penetration strategy, and market development metrics.

One of the keys to job and career success is having a unique set of accomplishments, skills, and education that make you better than all others in your career. The ability to recognize your interests, skills, and accomplishments, however, is only half the battle. You can be very passionate about something and still not be competitive in today's economy if you do not understand how the job market operates. Organizations of all sizes are competing in a global market where technology continues to increase the rate of change. Therefore, a career field that is expanding today could easily shrink tomorrow or next year.

Anticipating expected job growth is important to finding career opportunities, especially in the fields that most interest you. Even if a career is shrinking, those with excellent skills and know-how to market themselves should be able to find a new job. Keeping current about career trends, however, is vital to long-term success. The biggest investment any organization makes is in whom they hire to represent them. Since knowledge of such trends requires a personal commitment to excellence, the demand for workers who know how to leverage such knowledge to add value is very, very high.

The foundation for gaining knowledge is the ability to research. In today's economy, successful organizations need to know all aspects of their industry's market. Market research, then, is the organized effort to gather, evaluate and analyze information about industries, markets, and competition for the purpose of planning and decision-making. The more market intelligence an organization has, the more successful that organization will be. Now, imagine yourself as a company and read the above definition of market intelligence, only replace "market" with the word "career." If market intelligence is critical for the success of an organization, imagine how a little market research might benefit your career planning.

There are two types of market research: primary and secondary. Primary market research is obtaining information directly such as interviews, surveys, focus groups, and observation. An example of this might be getting to pre-screen a new movie for free at the theater if you agree to participate in a discussion afterward. On the other hand, secondary market research is information that has already been gathered, compiled and published. Organizations obtain information through indirect resources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, trade publications, or through commercial services offered through market research firms.

You don't have to work at a corporation to conduct market research, though. It just so happens that your academic curricula provide you the relevant transferrable skills you need, so here are a few tips to capitalize on what you are already doing.

Understand need

All jobs are created from unmet needs. What issues, challenges, and problems do you see, experience or hear about within the scope of your interests and career aspirations? What needs does the issue, challenge, or problem represent? Look for opportunities to be a solution.

Watch trends

Do you know what is trending today? How much time do you spend online surfing the 'Net or on social media? Have you ever looked at Facebook analytics? This is a great opportunity to learn more about targeted organizations and/or populations' demographics, lifestyles and habits. It is also important to know about world events and issues as they can impact business and industry. For example, when the Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care) passed, many organizations had to dramatically shift their insurance policies.

Conduct interviews

Informational interviewing is the practice of talking to professionals in their fields about their careers. In effect, you can conduct your own primary market research. Find someone doing something you find interesting and simply talk to him or her. Informational interviews are the most powerful form of career research because it also affords you the opportunity to network and meet people that can help you with your career plan. Just remember, you are connecting to gather information, not a job. So be professional and do not abuse others' time and generosity with any hidden agendas.

Build relationships

Keep in mind, people are your number one resource for information, and networking is the process of building personal relationships. We do it every day; ask and share with others information, advice and sometimes exchange favors. Professional networking is not that different. It is of the utmost importance, however, that you treat everyone with courteous respect. Investing the time to establish and build meaningful connections (link to tip 10) with others is the core of positive relationships. These are the key people who can serve as mentors and advisors.

Use resources 

If people are your number one resource, then information is number two. This is important to remember because when frustrated, it is not that you don't have resources, it is probably that you are not using your resources effectively. As mentioned above, there are many ways to obtain secondary market information. Besides governmental sites such as the Department of Labor ( and various directories (, for example), there are several community resources such as public libraries ( and professional organizations that offer free services to the public. Even at WSU, there are workshops, career events and job fairs for you to capitalize on as well (

Create an opportunity 

Through networking and researching the industries, markets, and competition of your targeted employers, you will be able to identify their issues, challenges, and problems. That is the other advantage of conducting this research: the power it gives you to adjust and strengthen your position, your unique selling proposition. In other words, you can pitch how your talent and creativity can benefit the organization, by saving time and money with your skills and qualifications.  Everyone makes his or her own job and career opportunities. The more you research, the more opportunities you will see. What unique career opportunities do you find trending in today's job market?

For more career research resources, visit or contact Career Services at or (313) 577-3390 to schedule an appointment with a Career Planning Counselor.

References and resources