Job Basics: Awareness

woman phone communication information

So, let’s put this bluntly. If you want to get your career going you better bloody well be informed. I’ve mentioned this many times before, and I’m going to mention it again, but it comes down to this:

Follow the news and read about the world and your career. Keep doing it until you die. And possibly after.

One of the major differences I see in people and their careers is between those that know what’s going on and those who don’t – those who stay aware are much more successful than those who don’t. If you want to do good in your career you need to know what’s up in the world and how it affects you.

I guarantee you right now, if you’re not actively staying aware of events that affect your career you’ll have a much harder time of it.

Oh and you should be following the news anyway, but still. With that said,, on with the career-side of staying informed and what you need to do.

Follow The News

Follow the news, know what’s going on in the world because it’s going to affect you. There is no excuse to be ignorant.

I always recommend people keep a newsfeed (you can always try NewsBlur if you want, it has free and paid versions) or find a few sites to go to each day to keep aware of news. By the way, be careful of making them blog-only unless the blogs in question refer to reliable sources that aren’t other blogs. The echo chamber can seem awful large and you can mistake it for the world.

You want to do this as the world is a big, changing place. If you don’t follow what’s going on you can get surprised quite nastily. I write this a few days after an incident in the news (and my followup reading) made me realize some of my further-out career plans may not work in some locations.

And no, as funny as they are, the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert don’t count.  The antidote to a problem isn’t the same as good health.

If nothing else, give a shot. It aggregates news sites and blogs, so some content is biased (that’s the intent) but at least shows what people are talking about – even if they’re being stupid.

Next Step

  • Find at least one news site and follow it each day. Ask what the news you see means for your career (and your life)

Follow Industry News

If you want to work in a certain industry, find out what’s going on there. Not news about an industry but news of what’s up in the industry.

For instance, a book review site doesn’t give you much industry news relevant to your career – a site on writers and publishers does.

You want to have an insight into whats going on on the industry of choice so you know what’s up. You want to look for opportunities, commentary, changes, issues, conflicts. It keeps you informed so you can understand what’s going on – and be part of it.

Every industry is its own world, some exceedingly so. You need to really be part of it, and that means staying informed.

You can probably find some sites easy just by searching – or already know them. Always helps to ask other people for advice.

Next Step

  • Find one news site for your preferred industry and follow it each day for one week. Ask if you see any news that affects your career.

Follow Economic News

Sorry, my position hasn’t changed on this – follow economic news, at least news that’s relevant to you. Understand what’s going on with economies – and if it doesn’t make sense, try a bit of reading until you do.

Now if you’re not an econogeek like me, it may take awhile to wade into it. I recommend asking for useful sites from people, but I’ve found the economic news at Quartz is quite helpful – it touches on specific issues in in-depth ways.  Frankly, they can make usually boring news exciting.

Next Step

  • Find an economic news site that doesn’t bore you and (you got it) follow it for one week and ask how the news is relevant to you.

Act On The News

The reason you do all of this is to stay informed and aware- but you need to use that awareness to choose when to act:

  • A company is hiring, send a resume.
  • A city is in trouble, rethinking your move there (or perhaps taht means your skills are needed).
  • There’s a political conflict locking up a state legislature, find out when the next election is as it may affect your economy.

The news is there, all this information, put it into action – though sometime the action is not doing something.  Choosing to “stay put” is an action,a choice of not doing something more.

Doing this is not only a good idea, but you can make it a habit. Several times in the past I saw the writing on the wall, or saw a new opportunity, and jumped on it. You need to be ready to do that too.

Next Step

  • When you follow the news as noted above, ask what actions you should take based on the news you see.


We’ve covered staying aware – time for us to move on to the tools of your job search.


– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at