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Turn industry trends into your interview edge

If a job hunt is on your horizon, it’s essential to improve your prospects by staying on top of rapidly changing industry trends. Industry knowledge will help you prepare for networking opportunities and impress would-be employers during job interviews. But what if you need it yesterday?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Up your industry know-how in no time with these five simple tips:
1. Set up Google Alerts with keywords related to your target industry
Do a weekly Google search to see what other professionals are saying about your field, or review Google Trends to track what’s “hot” around specific topics. You can also set up custom keyword searches on Google Alerts and get daily updates sent to your email. Make sure to update your keywords regularly and include the names of organizations, industries, trade shows and top players in your field.

2. Leverage social media as your way to information

Twitter is a great tool to stay up-to-date and find industry-specific tweets. Just harness the power of hashtags! Type the hashtag symbol followed by the name of your industry (for example, “#projectmanagement” or “#nursing”) and see what comes up. You can also follow the Twitter and LinkedIn feeds of industry leaders to get their insights on trends and future projections.

3. Use your university resources and join professional organizations

Whether you’re an alumni or a student, University of Phoenix Career Resources is your hub for career coaching. Phoenixes can tap this service at no cost. Also consider joining professional associations, which sometimes offer discounted student memberships and a wealth of industry information, as well as opportunities for networking and professional growth. Many maintain industry-specific email lists and online forums.

4. Request informational interviews

One of the best ways to gain industry-specific info is to conduct an informational interview with an industry pro. Prepare a list of interview questions for professionals you admire. These could pertain to trends, new developments, key players or problems and challenges. Always ask them for referrals to other professionals. Offer them any assistance you can in return and be sure to send a thank-you card or email expressing gratitude for their shared time and expertise.

5. Attend industry conferences and read trade magazines

Industry conferences and trade shows provide an effective way to network with industry pros and discover the forecast for your field. Check for any special student rates at registration! Industry-related magazines also provide information on the latest news, innovations and trends in the field. Online subscription-based resources provide in-depth analysis of specific companies and industries.

So, what are you waiting for? Whether you register for a conference, meet with a mentor, or comb Google and Twitter for trending topics, it’s time to set your daily alerts, start networking, and have fun!

Steven Starks is a Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix. He is also a National Certified Counselor and a featured career coach with