Explore Career Fields

Knowing what’s out there, what you’re looking for, and how to market yourself are all integral elements of a successful job search. The four steps below are a guide to exploring your career options and preparing to interact with potential employers.

ONE: Familiarize Yourself with Potential Careers

The following questions can help you determine if a career or employer is right for you:

  • What are people thinking about in their work?
  • What are their daily tasks?
  • What expertise do they need?
  • What are the typical qualifications and credentials?
  • How are they impacting people?
  • What range of compensation and benefits should someone with my qualifications/experience expect?

The Explore Career Fields page on the CareerLAB main site is a very good place to start this research – it features curated lists of top companies, trade organizations, and select job postings grouped by career family.

Here are some additional resources for job postings and general information about potential employers:

  • Handshake (Brown login required)
  • Job search sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc.
  • LinkedIn, where you can find a variety of companies, job posting and contacts. NB: The Brown LinkedIn alumni page is a great resource, and can connect you with Brown alumni for networking.

TWO: Think about Potential Employers and How to Speak their Language

Job postings can tell you a great deal about potential employers and careers, ask questions like the ones below to read between the lines:

  • What are the key words in each job description, and what do they tell you about the employer and their values?
  • What specific skills does the employer emphasize or prefer?
  • What in your CV or resumé can help you market those particular skills?
  • How do employers describe their overall mission and their ideal candidates?
  • How can you integrate these key terms and concepts into your targeted resumé and/or cover letter?

THREE: Know Your Priorities

As you focus in on particular career paths and potential employers, it will be helpful to think about where you want to be, and what your priorities are –

  • What are the preferred outcomes and/or focus of your work? (i.e. social impact, financial security, interest/challenging work, creativity, etc.)
  • What is your ideal work environment? (i.e. social, relaxed, relaxed, traditional, etc.)
  • What is your ideal geographical location?
  • What is your ideal work-life balance?

Whatever your ideals may be in these particular areas, you might rank each category in terms of their importance to you, this self-knowledge can help you come up with a reasonable ideal against which you can measure potential jobs and employers, and to determine where you are and are not willing to compromise in choosing an employer. At the end of this process, you will be able to answer the two essential questions for finding a career that suits your needs and lifestyle :

  • What does a reasonable ideal job in this field look like for you?
  • What trade-offs or compromises does a particular job opportunity entail? (i.e. how does it measure up against my reasonable ideal and my priorities?)

FOUR: Put It All Together for Success at Job Fairs at Interviews

Essential background knowledge about your job search priorities and potential career fields will not only guide your thinking when evaluating job listings and job offers, but it can also help you to formulate the right questions to ask at job fairs and/or interviews. In these situations, asking strategic questions will help you get the information you need while, at the same time, it shows that you are an active, focused, engaged and prepared job candidate –– qualities that are immensely attractive to potential employers.

Once again, here are some useful resources to help you get your research going: