Preliminary Results of Career Survey

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I closed the survey on May 1.  I had 150 responses to the 6 questions that I posed.  Because I randomly shared and promoted the survey, it would impossible to conclude much from the potential survey takers.  It is likely that  1,000+ individuals where asked to take the survey.

But of those who did answer, here are some preliminary results and my initial thoughts.

Q1: Please rank the most pressing challenges in finding work or starting a career (with 1 being the most pressing)
The most pressing challenge for most career searchers is networking, followed by identifying a career interest, then finding a mentor or coach.
Conclusion: Would-be professionals and those looking for a career move are interested in engagement with others, and it is not being provided. Of the 150 responders, 46 indicated this as need #1. 
Q2: What other challenges do you face in advancing a career or making a job change?
I received 135 responses to this question.  Common responses (appearing 3 or more times) include:
  • getting hired with little or no experience
  • reentering the workforce after a period of time
  • finding paid vs. volunteer work
  • being crowded out by lawyers and judges (referring to mediation)

Conclusion: Getting experience is a perennial problem in our field.  To solve it, are educators doing a good enough job in providing students with experiential and applied opportunities before they leave school?


Q3: What is your age?

Nearly 50% of the responders are between 23-35.

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Conclusion: Those looking to go into the field are younger, and are early in their careers.


Q4: What is your highest educational attainment? (include the degree you are now working toward)
Those pursuing conflict-related are highly educated.  And the master’s degree (50%) is the most likely means to professional achievement.
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Conclusion:  The rise of specific conflict and peace related graduate programs is increasingly playing a role in the field.  Does that mean that those with little education or “informal” training have no future?
Q5: Are you working in the field now (that is, conflict resolution, conflict management, peacebuilding, international education, or related fields)?
Most of the survey takers are in fact working in the field (57%).
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Conclusion: Does this mean that most in our field are looking to move to other jobs?  Is there a level of dissatisfaction with working conditions?
Q6: What resources or activities could be provided that might assist in your search?
I received 126 responses to this question.  Common responses (appearing 3 or more times) include:
  • mentorship opportunities (formal and informal)
  • networking opportunities
  • job databases and listings (via website or email) that are accessible and relate to our field
  • support groups

Conclusion: Job searchers are looking for personal interaction and relationship building.  Do many of them feel isolated?  Are “online” communities sufficient for them?


Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to dig deeper into this data. If you are attending either the Peace and Justice Studies meeting (Philadelphia, 9/27-30) or the Association for Conflict Resolution meeting (Pittsburgh, 10/3-6), I plan on sharing my data as part of conference presentations on career awareness.

In meantime, reach out to me if you have questions are want to offer insights.


Published by David J. Smith

I am a career coach, consultant, and head of a not for profit - the Forage Center - that offers humanitarian education training. I also teach at George Mason University and Drexel University. A one time lawyer, I spent many years teaching in a community college where I was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar teaching in Estonia. I'm the author of Peace Jobs: A Student's Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (IAP 2016). I've been married to my best friend for over 31 years and we have two well adjusted adult children who teach me something new everyday. I live in Rockville, Maryland.

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