How To Translate Your Interests Into Viable Job Targets, Part 2: Find Out How Business Gets Done

– Posted in: career coaching

Last week, I talked about how any interest is a viable job target, regardless of how esoteric or seemingly non-career related it may seem. Step 1 of translating your interests into job search targets is to believe your interests matter. But once you do that, belief gets you only so far if you don’t know what to do with your interests, however clearly they are identified. In order to know how your interests might be helpful to prospective employers (and therefore how your interests translate into viable jobs for you) you need to know how business works. 

In last week’s column, I got from Barbie to Mattel, Toys ‘ R’ Us, and eBay. I knew that Barbie needed to be manufactured (hence Mattel) and Barbie is sold (hence Toys ‘R’ Us and eBay). So this is a basic example of how I teased apart different business functions relating to Barbie and identified companies relating to these functions. If you aren’t already familiar with the different business functions of manufacturing, sales, finance, human resources, marketing, and technology, take some time to learn about them. Read business periodicals, such as Forbes, to get familiar with business issues and companies. Think about which of these types of issues you would want to work on. Think about which companies are doing something you’d like to be a part of. How does your interest (in Barbie or otherwise) overlap with these business issues and/or companies?

If you are interested in non-profits or government work, you still need to know how business gets done within these organizations. Non-profits typically have people in overall management, programming, and development, as well as human resources and finance. Government agencies all have different mandates. For the issue/ interest that you care about, which agency handles this? How is it structured? Many jobseekers limit their possibilities because they don’t know enough about the market of business, non-profit or government opportunities. There are many organizations and types of jobs out there. Finding out how business gets done is a first step to thinking more broadly about what you might be able to do.

You don’t need an MBA or any advanced degree to understand how business gets done. You only need curiosity to ask the right questions, as well as the willingness to research the answers. Reading general news and business news is one option. Talk to friends about their jobs and companies, with a specific focus on learning how things get done and what the day-to-day looks like. Once you have an idea of what the different types of roles are, look up job descriptions for these roles, not necessarily to apply (you don’t know yet what fits you) but to further your understanding. Pay attention to how the job is described and the qualifications required.

The best job is a match between what you want and what the market wants. Step 1 focused on your wants by affirming that your interests matter to good job selection. Step 2 focuses on business wants by asking you to find out how business gets done. Next week, in Step 3, we’ll focus on how to make that match between what you want and what business wants because it is in that intersection that the best job search targets for you await.

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