It’s that time of year, ‘March Madness’, when everyone, including the President is selecting who they believe will advance to the final four in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships. With a little imagination and humor, you can apply the bracket concept as a way to narrow down your career interests and begin to identify potential employers.
Let’s say you are totally confused and quickly losing your confidence in the process. Everyone you know seems to have this ‘career thing’ mastered while you’re still floundering. Where do you begin? Try categorizing your interests using the bracket system. Instead of four regions, fill in four career fields that might interest you. Identify sixteen possible employers in each field. Go to each organization’s website and get a sense of how they describe what they do and the culture that enables their employees to succeed. Utilize social networking sites to identify folks you may know who are employees in your selected organizations or have contacts that could be of help.
Your goal in this first phase is to access a basic level of information for comparison.
As you progress with your research, you will begin to eliminate some organizations in favor of others. Once you get to your ‘elite eight’, schedule your information interviews. As you talk to people you will begin to establish a realistic assessment of your chances for success in an organization.
This ‘elite eight’ forms your target list. By the time you have narrowed your selection to eight, you should feel comfortable that each employer presents a realistic next step in your career.
As with any selection process, you don’t have complete control of the outcome. The employer extends the offer and you have the choice to accept or continue to explore other options.
The NCAA tournament lasts three weeks. If you start filling in your career fields now, you will advance the exploration process at a pace to be ready for interviews by ‘tip-off’ in the championship game.