Investigate Careers in Industry

If you have some ideas of where a career outside of academia might take you, the following section provides information and links to research the sectors, industries and companies where your next position may be found. Being in the know about industries and employers will also help you network and find opportunities. If you need to get oriented and find out what fields and sectors might be right for you, you may want to start with the “Find Your Focus” section first or book an appointment with a Career Counsellor. If you want to get a sense of what kinds of industry-based careers graduate students attain, see the career guides and bios in the “Considering Careers Outside Academia” section.

This section includes:

  • A primer on doing industry and company research
  • Links to labour market information and job ad sites
  • Tips on how to develop a strategy to get the career you want

Research Sectors, Industries, Companies and Specific Careers

Before launching into a job search and sending out a batch of resumes, knowing about the places you are applying to is a great way to tailor your approach and focus your efforts. Doing solid company research allows you to be selective and to target companies that reflect your interests and values. Then you can develop an effective strategy to maximize your job search success.

The Wide Angle – Sectors and Industries

Before you begin to research specific companies, scan the horizon first by gaining some general industry knowledge. Read trade and business magazines as well as the business news to keep up-to-date on industry news and trends. Find out if your industry of choice has a sector council. These councils, which cover everything from seafood to steel, are where you’ll uncover who the key players are and the challenges facing the industry. 

Find the organizations representing the interests of the industry and/or profession you are interested in. These associations have resources, events and great potential for making new contacts and networking. 

The Zoom - Companies

Once you have focused in on an industry, it's time to do some basic company research. Company directories give brief profiles and contact information for privately and publicly held companies. Use these directories to make a list of organizations to further investigate.

Research Canadian companies in your industry of interest with Scotts Business Directory Online (available at Toronto Public Library). Use this information to identify the companies you may want to work for, get company profiles, contact information and links to company web sites.

Find manufacturing companies using this directory of industrial suppliers and manufacturers by specific services or goods.

The Career Center and University of Toronto Libraries also have a variety of industrial directories for researching companies. Other ideas for conducting company research can be found in this tip sheet.

The Close-Up

The next step is understanding a company’s key products and services, any new and upcoming projects, its clients and main competitors. Finding out about the company’s culture, mission statement, diversity policies, community involvement and financial profile will help you determine if you’d like to target them as a future employer and help you present yourself as a strong candidate. Here are some good ways to get more info about a company.

Google
Simply plug the company name into a search engine and see what comes up. Look to company social media accounts, YouTube videos, recent press mentions, product and service reviews, the company blog, and anything else that may come up in a Google search of the company. 

Canadian News Wire
Check Cision (formerly Canada News Wire) for online press releases, webcasts or videos.

Corporate Websites
Review the company's website thoroughly, especially the "About Us" section. Check to see if the organization has an "official" business blog or one where the posts are written by employees. You may be able to download brochures or an annual report, which gives a current snapshot of company activities.  Also, check the corporate website for press releases or a news section.

YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
Many companies have a corporate presence on these social networking platforms. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to do company research. In the search bar at the top, select companies, people or articles and use your company name as a keyword. You can use the connections button to see who is in or connected to the network within the company - very useful for networking and getting insider information (more on this in the section on Networking). You can also get a sense of companies by compiling and examining job ads from employers of interest. If you are interested in a company and have targeted it as a possible future employer, be sure to follow them and stay abreast of developments through its news feed. Once you have reached out and become known to the company, they may investigate your social media connections with them.

The Glassdoor site provides salary details, company reviews and interview questions, all posted by employees and job seekers to those companies.

Careers

You may have a good idea of the industry and companies you have an interest in. The next step is to explore the careers themselves. If you have an idea of the type of career you are interested in, research will help you know if it’s a good fit for you and understand the requirements for entry. Consult the “Find Your Focus” section if you need to further define your career goal or book an appointment to explore and hone in on your path with a Career Counsellor. Need to get a better idea of what your career interest is really all about? Comprehensive, Canadian career profiles are available for hundreds of career titles in the Career Cruising database, accessed through the Career Learning Network (CLN). Login using your UTORid and password, and click on the "Resources" tab.

Once you have done some research on your potential career(s), take it a step further by talking to those in the field to explore the career in more detail and ask important questions that will help you know if it’s a good fit for you. The Extern Job Shadow Program is a great way to start this process.  Conducting information interviews is also a widely accepted and powerful way to gain insights into careers. Find out more in the next section Build Experience and Prepare for Careers in a Variety of Sectors.

Links to job sites

Keep in mind when you are doing your job search that approximately 80% of the jobs available never make it to a job ad. Why? Employers prefer to hire through less costly and time-consuming methods such as informal channels that connect them with people they already know of who have the skills and personal qualities they are looking for. Knowing potential candidates reduces employer risk of making the wrong hiring decision. This is why networking is such a powerful job-search method. It is recommended that responding to job ads be only a part of your overall job-search strategy.  

When you do use job ad sites as part of your job search strategy, keep these tips in mind: Set up job alerts available on many job sites. Ads of interest will be deposited directly into your inbox when your keywords are matched in new job ads; Use your degree (MSc / MA / PhD) as one of your keywords in combination with others, to find positions that call for advanced degrees; Scan ads to determine the best keywords to use in searching for positions of interest and refine as you go.

General Job Sites

Biology / Clinical Research

Math and Computer Job Sites:

Arts and Culture:

Environmental:

Helping Professions / Not for Profits

Government

Post-Secondary alt-Academic

Business

In addition to the General Job Sites which carry the bulk of business job ads. Check these sites:

Recruitment Consultants

Also, consider professional recruitment companies that focus on your area of interest to build your career:     

Developing Your Career Strategy

Knowing the area or career you’d like to work in and having done the basic research on the industry and career, the next step in getting the position you want is developing an effective job search strategy. This starts with assessing your skills, strengths and personal qualities in relation to the requirements for entry into your field.

Being immersed in academia, many graduate students feel they do not have marketable skills for careers outside of it. The skills gained in your advanced degree(s) that your future employer will want are your transferrable skills. Examples are: project management, presentation skills and analytical skills. Technical skills are less portable from one environment to the next and include lab skills, data analysis and specialized software skills. Soft skills are also important and include aspects of how you approach problems and manage yourself, such as being a strong time manager or being a harmonizing influence in team settings, to name a few. This article gives some examples of how those with advanced degrees have transferred their skills to a non-academic setting 

If you are unsure what skills and strengths you have to offer or want to take stock, go to Skills under the “Find Your Focus” section. Consulting with a Career Counsellor can also help you articulate what you have to offer.

Find job ads for positions of interest and compare what employers are asking for against your skills (transferrable, technical and soft skills), experiences, personal qualities and values. This will allow you to express the value you bring to the employer and your fit for the position. It may also reveal any gaps in skills or experience that you may need to address to become a more competitive candidate. A “T-Chart” comparison is useful to do this. Here is an example.


Go to next step: Prepare for Industry Careers