If you are going to apply for operations jobs, of course, you will need to have a background in operations first. What that means is that you will need to have a solid background in economics, engineering, or math. You will need to have good problem solving skills, will need to be able to work with computers, and will need to know data processing systems thoroughly. Most especially, you will need to know a lot about applied mathematics. Special operations jobs also require that you have a master's degree in operations research or something similar. In some cases, you will also need a Ph.D. in management science or operations research. Many universities offer operations research graduate programs that completely encompass the education you will need to work in operations. It may be a good idea to get a math degree as your undergraduate degree and then go into operations research for your graduate work.
What are operations jobs like?
Operations jobs involve problem-solving. You will need to be able to analyze and solve problems utilizing a variety of means. You may work for one company as an operations manager, or you may travel and work for a number of different clients a few months at a time, in special operations jobs, project by project. You may work with city managers, for example, to solve traffic congestion problems, or you may work for the federal government or the military helping them make the most efficient use of resources and space. Banking, insurance, and telecommunications industries also use operations people to help them analyze and solve problems, and use resources most effectively.
Because efficiency is such an important part of business life, operations jobs occur in every sector in society. And because those who work in operations are charged with the task of problem-solving, making most efficient use of resources, speeding processes up efficiently, and so on, you're going to have your choice of jobs in just about every industry. For example, very large corporations may need to make their employees more efficient. This could be something as simple as changing the way lunch hours are handled, so that employees get in and out as fast as possible so that they can get back to work, to changing job protocol slightly so that it is more efficient. In operations, you may also coordinate with managers from different departments so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the problem that needs to be solved in the decision-making process. In short, you say the word ''efficiency,'' and an operations manager or someone of a similar position is going to have a role in making that happen.
Finding a job in operations
Because sectors in every industry need people in operations, it is up to you to pick your field of expertise. For example, you may want to work for one large corporation on staff, or you may want to travel and work for different companies for months at a time, on a consulting basis. You may even want to work for yourself as a consultant in special operation jobs, although this is best done after you have had some experience as an operations manager or in similar position yourself first.
Once you have determined your area of expertise, doing a brief search online at major jobsites is going to bring you up a number of positions in the field. Another good way to get a job as an operations manager or another similar position is to find a recruiter who functions in filling just those types of jobs. It's a good idea to work with a recruiter because that person is actively looking for someone with your talents and skills. In addition, the recruiter can help you fine-tune your resume, work on interview skills, and so forth. A recruiter is vested in having you get the job as long as you're qualified, so this is a good way to get exactly the job you want without having to do a lot of legwork yourself. Recruiters also help you find jobs in some cases, or they may be working for a particular client in looking to fill a candidate position.
The process of getting a job in operations
Whether you are working with a recruiter or not, of course you need to have your resume in order before you begin your job search. The first page should have a synopsis of your education and experience, as well as a job objective that you can tailor specifically to each job you apply for. A second page can go into more depth with job experience, if you have been in operations for a while. If you are new at this, of course, your resume is going to be a bit briefer. In that case, it is okay to keep it to one page, and you only have to include job-relevant experience on your resume.
Once you've got your resume lined up and have hooked up with a recruiter or have found some decent positions online in areas you want to work in, it's time to begin working on the interview process. In this case, you should really treat the interviewer as though you are the one doing the hiring. In effect, of course, that is exactly what you are doing. You are ''hiring'' your employer. This puts both you and the interviewer on a more even keel with one another. You should also walk in there with the mindset that you want to help this company solve a problem. You are there to fill a particular capacity — in this case, operations — so a major focus of the interviewer should be how you can help this company solve the problems you would be hired to solve.
Operations is a very challenging and rewarding field, and you can get into just about any sector of the economy, depending on your focus. Every field has special operations jobs it needs to fill, so you have your pick of environments to work in depending on what you want to do. It is a rewarding and lucrative career, but it also requires quite a bit of dedication. You are going to have to spend several years in school, likely, beyond your undergraduate work to be able to qualify to work in operations. That said, though, it is a very lucrative and rewarding career if it is something you are interested in.