In my book the Perfect Job Seeker, I use an acronym MAJOR LIC to develop your job search mission. Determine your MAJOR, Location, Industry and Company of preference before moving forward.
1. Selecting a Major
At this time of year, when sophomores have to determine a major of study because of fall semester class registration, they make rushed, pressured and uninformed decisions on a career path. There are many ways to research the market for majors. We provide historical data from the annual post-graduation report. Coming soon the Commonwealth of Virginia will make available a database of every major from every higher-ed school in Virginia with pertinent job-related information. LinkedIn Career Explorer also shows the demand for majors as well by your alma mater.
2. Identify your Location of Preference
If you are uncertain on your major of study, then do you know where you want to live? If this decision is based off of family, following a spouse, climate or other lifestyle, then this information can help you select a major for you. There are 360+ Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States. MSA data can be helpful in making a decision. A person having Location as their top priority must be willing to work in any industry for any company. Therefore, knowing the supply of jobs in a desired MSA is important. For instance, if you want to be close to your family in Blacksburg, VA, and location is your top priority, you must be willing to sacrifice what you do and for whom you do it.
If you are unable to select a major, and are indifferent toward your geographical location, then maybe you have a desired industry you want to work. Is it banking, automotive, software development, publishing? Industry preference can direct not only what major to study, but what location is best for jobs in the field. A person having Industry as their top priority must be willing to live anywhere and work for anyone – as long as it is in that industry. Therefore, industry knowledge is important. For instance, if you want to be a college football coach, industry must be your top priority because you must move and work for many programs.
If you cannot answer the other three questions, but you know what company you want to work for, then company identification is your key. Many job seekers have a dream company they want to work. However, selecting the wrong major or having a different location of preference can hinder those plans. A person having Company as their top priority must be willing to live anywhere and do anything as long as it is working for that company. Therefore, company knowledge is vitally important. For instance, if you want to work for Google, then you must live in California, be in the software development industry and computer science is the major for you.
So, what is most important to you in selecting a major or career – location, industry or company? By rank ordering these three attributes in your career search, you will have a clearer picture of what major to select.