Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Do Your Industry Homework

Whether you’re staying current on the industry in which you’re working, looking to change industries, or entering an industry as a recent graduate, it's wise to do some industry homework. When researching industries, you look at some of the same types of information you look at when researching companies, except on a broader scale.

Before you begin your research, it’s helpful to know that industry sectors are classified by a U.S. government coding system. Initially, industry sectors were classified by a four-digit Standard Industrial Classification Code (SIC). Although still used by some government departments, the SIC was replaced with the introduction of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in 1987. Most government entities and businesses use NAICS codes (a two through six-digit hierarchical classification system) as the standard for categorizing businesses by type of economic activity. This is important to know, as you might use NAICS (and, in some cases, SIC) codes when searching for specific industry data or when cross-referencing information.

Industry information is plentiful. You can conveniently start your research right in Career Transitions “Explore Careers” portal. Career Transitions provides current and vetted industry information and data, including overviews, projections, periodicals, association information, and more. In addition, your public library has industry information, which can typically be found in directories, periodicals, market research reports, white papers, etc.

Now that you know where to start, you need to identify what kind of industry information to gather. Assuming that you’re interested in learning about the employment outlook of an industry (although your research should be driven by your specific needs), the following is a list of information definitely worth considering:

  • Overviews
  • Employment growth (growth history/trends)
  • Types of occupations
  • Average wage/salary
  • Products and services
  • Forecasts
  • Sales and forecasts
  • Issues/challenges
  • Trends and opportunities
  • Market volume and value
  • Competitive landscape
  • Government regulations/legal considerations

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