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Information Sources for Job Seekers

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Job Titles

If you need to determine the job titles or positions that correspond to the kinds of work you want to do and the skills you offer, consult; Salaries

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (see above for complete citation) gives basic salary information for each of the positions it lists and is a useful starting point. It is most helpful, however, in reference to entry level positions.

Industries and Companies General references

Your first step in getting information on industries and companies should be to spend some time with: Annual reports. Whenever possible, you should take a look at a company's annual report before going to an informational or selection interview. Annual reports are available for all publicly owned companies, which sell stock and must report on their activities to shareholders. A phone call to the Public Affairs, Public Relations, or Investor Relations Department is generally all it takes to get one mailed to you. Annual reports are also available at many local libraries on microfiche. These reports present companies in the most favorable light possible and do not include the most up to date information, so you should consult other, more objective, critical, and current sources to evaluate a company's suit ability for you. Annual reports do, however, give you a good feeling for how a company wishes to be seen and will usually provide an overview of the services and products the company produces, as well as of the direction in which the company is headed.

Privately owned companies and nonprofit organizations may or may not publish annual reports and are somewhat harder to research. Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) Business Information Reports are often cited as good sources of information on privately held companies, but they are not available through libraries only other businesses can get them, and businesses who subscribe to the service are not supposed to make reports available for employment purposes. You may, however, be able to get copies of the reports you seek through your local bank many banks subscribe to the D&B service to help evaluate the creditworthiness of companies seeking loans. Alternatively, you may be able to persuade a businessperson you know to help you get reports if his or her employer subscribes to the service or regularly requests individual reports. Reports costs from $19 to $60 apiece, so you may have to shell out some money.

My advice is that you skip this source unless you are desperate to get information about a company, are extremely eager to work there, and cannot find any other source of information.

Government sources

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good source of information on small businesses. This federal agency provides a service called the "Answer Desk," which is accessible through a toll free number (800 827 5722). By phoning the "Answer Desk," you can find out about SBA publications and services and locate the SBA office nearest you. The SBA is a particularly helpful source of information for those thinking about starting their own businesses.

Universities all over the country host Small Business Development Centers; check with the universities in your region to see if one is located nearby. These centers, which are affiliated with the SBA, are generally excellent sources of information, and most are willing to share what they have with people not associated with the university.


Fortunately, the recent surge of interest in small businesses has spawned a variety of periodical publications that focus on

All of the above indexes allow you to access information through both company names and subject areas and are helpful in locating information on all kinds of business organizations large or small; public, private, or nonprofit. Browsing through them will also acquaint you with some of the major business periodicals devoted to particular industries. Be sure to look for articles on companies at which you plan to do any sort of inter viewing. Nothing will damage the credibility of your interest in a company faster than not having read the recent cover feature in Business Week or Forbes on that company. Many librarians also keep files or notebooks containing clippings from local newspapers on local businesses these can be godsends when trying to locate information on smaller businesses not likely to be written up in national publications.

Industry overviews

For industry overviews, the best sources of information are Standard & Poor's Industry Surveys, a quarterly publication, and Wasserman's Encyclopedia of Business Information Sources, which was cited previously. Both are widely available in the business sections of larger libraries.


All of the information sources discussed so far will help you identify important decision makers in organizations. Annual reports list a company's officers and sometimes profile workers in a variety of positions. Articles in business periodicals will often mention several people within the company featured, and many periodicals carry articles about individual people. As you read about an organization that interests you, note the names and titles of people mentioned. Then, if you decide to seek employment there, write to those individuals and mention the article in which they were featured few people are entirely immune to appeals to vanity.

Generally, all you need do to get the address and phone number of someone within an organization is to call the central switchboard. Simply say you have some material to send to the person in question and want to make sure you have the right address.

In addition to these sources, you can consult references specifically geared to supplying information on individuals. These include a vast array of Who's Who's there are Who's Who's of women in business, people in government, people in education, people in consulting, people from a variety of ethnic or racial backgrounds in a variety of organizations, etc. One of the most helpful is Who's Who in Finance and Industry. See what your library has to offer and consult the reference librarian about the most likely sources of information on given individuals.
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