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Searching for a new job is hard work. In fact, it can be the toughest job you’ll ever have. The key to job search success is to treat the entire process like a business. To stand head and shoulders above the rest of the job-seeking crowd, it’s important to lay out an effective strategy. By defining what you want and need, you’re on your way to getting it.
A successful job search begins with a strong understanding of who you are. See the “My Plan Assessment” for instructions on how to find out more about yourself, so you will know more about the types of positions you want, what you are qualified to do, and where you will be successful. Think about your short, mid, and long term career goals, then explore your skills and abilities, articulate your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses, and identify your priorities and values that will help you achieve them.
What are your search criteria? Common search criteria are geographic location, application of skill set, connection to interest/passion, fit with work values, and compatibility with personality. Some people think it’s good to be ﬂexible in your job search, and to some extent it is. However, being overly ﬂexible can be a real hurdle. The more you can narrow down what you’re looking for and where, the more likely you’ll be able to uncover viable possibilities. It’s possible that you might have more than one thing you’re looking for though, and that’s ﬁne! If you can describe (to yourself and others) the kinds of opportunities you’re aiming for, you can organize your search appropriately. You may have diﬀerent methods that you use for different kinds of positions, organizations, ﬁelds, or geographic areas.
Diversity is important when it comes to your job search. Looking in a variety of places will assure that you are not overlooking any possible position postings. Look at online listings, like on the company’s website or on Handshake, at social media, like LinkedIn, at Professional Associations that are related to your field, and attend career fairs and expos, as well as other networking events that are offered on campus. See the “General Job Search Resources” and search by keyword or location. To search for jobs in Handshake, log in to your account, then click on “Search Jobs.” To find the schedule of networking events, click on “Events and Workshops.”
Research can make all the diﬀerence in your search. You need to look more like a great potential colleague than a desperate job seeker! There are plenty of desperate job seekers. It’s your job to do the research needed to understand your top employers’ needs and place yourself in situations where you can demonstrate your abilities. Researching the employer will also help you when it comes to writing your resume and cover letter, as well as in an interview.
Focus your energy on writing personalized cover letters, targeted resumes, and sending them out to companies hiring for position that you are qualified for. The closer a match, the better your chances of getting hired.
Following up with a company after you apply is a critical step in the job search. A call to the hiring manager can bring your name and resume to the top of the pile. Watch the “close date” on the job posting and wait a week after the deadline to give the company a chance to sort through applications. If there is no close date, one week after submitting your application is an appropriate amount of time to wait to follow up. Keep the tone of the conversation light and friendly and ask questions, if possible.
Job searching is difficult, and there are times when you will be discouraged. Just keep in mind that everyone has been through the same grind at one point. Try to keep a positive attitude, and look at your job hunt as an exciting challenge.
The Internet should not be your only means of searching for jobs. Talking to people, asking questions, and being able to quickly and easily describe who you are (your interests, skills, experience) and what you’re looking for may be your best job search method. Conduct informational interviews and don’t be afraid to network!