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How to Do Labour Market Research

You have an idea of the job that you are targeting, but do you even know if that job is in demand?  Sure, you've seen job advertisements, but is it possible that there are thousands of qualified applicants for every position that becomes available?  What is the outlook for your occupation?  Will there be jobs five years from now?  As a job seeker, it is important that you know the answers to these questions.  You don't want to invest your time and resources into acquiring skills for a position that is in decline.  Here are some guidelines to help you get started with your labour market research:

Look at trends.  What is happening in the sector?  Are processes becoming more computerized?  Is there a focus on being environmentally sustainable?  Are operations being outsourced internationally?  Find out what is going on in the sector and see how the changes may positively or negatively impact your ability to find a job.

Look at forecasts.  Most labour market websites will provide occupational outlooks for each specific job.  These outlooks estimate how many positions will be available in the occupation, and whether the occupation is expected to expand, decline, or stay the same.  The forecasts are based on conditions that exist within the industry, such as demographics and technology, as well as the environment as a whole, such as social, economic, and political conditions.

Look at the skills, qualifications, and education that is in demand.  Labour market research will be able to tell you what employers need.  Are they looking for candidates with a specific certification?  Would proficiency in a particular computer program make you a more attractive candidate?  This information will allow you to develop yourself so that you are a perfect fit for the employers' needs.

Look at the companies.  Which companies are expanding and which companies are declining? Which companies have opportunities available for applicants with your skill set?  By taking a closer look at specific companies, you can determine which ones to pursue, and which may be a waste of time.

Look at the average salaries.  Labour market research will also provide you with information about the average salary level for each particular occupation within a specific region.  It is important that you know what salary level to expect from employers.  They may ask you for your salary expectations in an interview and if they aren't in line with the market rate, you risk appearing inexperienced or unreasonable.  Also, when the employer makes you an offer, you want to be able to identify whether or not the salary that they are offering is fair.

Many job seekers jump blindly into their job search without doing any labour market research.  While these job seekers may still get lucky, if they don't know which occupations are growing, which skills are in demand, and which companies are expanding, they are not in a good position to make strategic career choices.