Career Development Tips

Finding a passion that is in demand

by Amy Cell

I love talking to job seekers that aren’t exactly sure about what they want to do, but by exploring the types of experiences that they like, they can put together some seeds that could grow into a career.  There are a variety of resources such as counselors and assessments to help you figure out how to turn your interests and personal preferences into a rewarding career.

It is also important to align your career choice with the occupations that are expected to increase in demand.  If you love managing teams and solving problems, project management could be for you.  Do you enjoy helping people and are patient and supportive?  Occupational therapists will be in high demand now and in the future.  Do you enjoy being outside, math and science and are highly organized? Becoming a construction superintendent is a highly lucrative career that only requires an associate’s degree.

At MEDC, we created a Career Matchmaker tool on that provides data on the number of current and future jobs by occupation, skillset and industry.  For instance, the accounting skillset is core for a variety of jobs including payroll clerk, auditor, financial planner, etc.  These jobs are found in every industry, and are in high numbers now and in the future.  On the other hand, some skillsets are found in few industries and are projected to decline.

Check out a variety of tools in the career explorer section of, and we will be adding to this area even more in the near future.

Focused: to be or not to be?

Many job seekers that I talk to mention how they will apply to anything and everything that they see posted if they are remotely qualified or interested.  Then, they are surprised and disappointed when they don’t get contacted for interviews.  (Oh, and by the way, the general protocol from employers is usually to not communicate – so don’t take this personally if you don’t get much communication after you apply to a position.  This is the typical in the age of hundreds of applications that come in from a large variety of online sources.)

Using the shotgun approach for job applications is rarely effective.  Hiring managers and key word software will quickly screen you out if you don’t meet the minimum requirements and then you will be frustrated with the lack of positive reinforcement.  Applying to positions that are well beneath your experience level also carries a low probability level – unless you take significant time to explain in a cover letter why you should be considered for the position – such as wanting to switch into a new industry or wanting to focus on a particular area for developmental purposes.

My recommendation is to focus.  Really understand what makes you passionate and what you do and don’t want in a job.  Narrow down to a specific skillset or functional area that is your focus, as well as focusing geographically and by experience level.  If you have a clear vision of what you want, you are much more likely to achieve it.

Get your top 50

You should create a list of 30-50 companies that would hire you to do what you want to do.  This list should include your geographic comfort level for commuting or moving.  This will help you focus on your top prospects so that you can actively focus on getting in front of the right people at the right time.

You should use the following filters to help you target:

  • Top skillset that you want to use: (Fundraiser, Accounting, Electrical engineering, Waitressing, etc.)
  • Experience level: (Internship, entry level, experienced level, supervisory, executive)
  • Geography: ie, 25 miles within Lansing
  • Industry preferences
  • Culture preferences
  • Salary requirements/targets

Within your target, you should then create a list of 30-50 companies that regularly hire people to do what you want to do.  Even if you can come up with a hundred or more companies that meet your criteria, get it down to a manageable list, which I believe is a maximum of 50.  Create a list in word or excel or on paper, to help you keep track of the company, company email, contacts that you have made at the company, etc.  Use this to track or journal your job search activity.  Check the company website each week for openings, and get to know people at the company by learning how to be an expert networker.

Having a focused target list will allow you to channel your energies into the highest probability for success, even if you there are no jobs currently posted.

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