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Eastern Illinois University

Career Services

Job Search Tips & Research strategy

Your individual job search strategy needs to be tailored to your individual situation. Whether you are seeking an internship or full time position, managing your job search is just like managing any other project. You must work at positioning yourself to be in the right place at the right time when the right job becomes available. Here are a few strategies for you to follow as you conduct your job search.

Step 1: Identify geographic regions.
  • Where are you willing to live? East Coast? West Coast? Midwest? What size of town?
  • Employers often have a variety of locations throughout the U.S., as well as international locations.
  • Consider what lifestyle and community culture would best fit you.
Step 2: Identify employers.
  • Some employer/career connections are obvious like CPA firms for accountants or auditors and school districts for teachers.
  • Think outside the box. Include other employers for your career field that aren’t so obvious, such as hotels, government or higher education for accounting and corporate training departments for teachers.
  • Use job type in a query on job search engine web sites.
  • Sources for employers in your prospective career paths include
    • HANDSHAKE - Industry Information & Employer Contact Info
    • Faculty recommendations; Career Advisor recommendations
    • Alumni panels in your classes; industry roundtables
    • Career Fairs, company information sessions, campus interviews
    • Online job listings
    • Google for top employers in your career path
    • Review our Employer Research section for list of websites.
  • Keep records of your research, preferably in a table or spreadsheet.
  • Beware of job scams!
Step 3: Match employers with your preferred region(s).
  • Use the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chamber Directory at to find employers in the regions you desire.
  • Look at companies who recruit on University campuses in the general region/state that you plan to settle in.
  • Review the “locations” list on employer websites to see the various locations of their facilities.
  • Check the membership lists of regional professional associations.
  • Internet Yellow Pages.
  • Do a job search on HANDSHAKE by state or city.
  • Add this information to your table or spreadsheet.
Step 4: Prioritize employers in your desired region with positions in your field.
  • Rank the employers who match both your location and career path criteria.
  • Rank and compare employers by the functions of the position, how well you match the position qualifications, the workplace culture, & opportunities for advancement.
  • Check local news stories for information about your top companies.
  • Check the financial stability, employment growth, sales growth, not for profit funding, community support/philanthropy for the organization, industry position or record of achievement.
  • Sources of information for most public and some large private employers include;; Vault reports; employer annual reports.
  • Use the employer recruiter’s behavior as an indicator of the employer’s style and culture but don’t rely totally on the recruiter as an indicator of employer culture.
  • Use informational interviewing as a way to learn about how comfortable you are with an employer.
  • Check the Internet for blogs about employers; Use LinkedIn as a connection to potential employer contacts.
Step 5: Develop a targeted resume and cover letter for your top 5 to 10 employers.
  • Use similar words that the employer uses and be sure to emphasize the skills and traits that the employer seeks.
  • Try to include the name of a recruiting official instead of “To Whom This May Concern.” Joining the local professional associations that your prospective employers are also engaged with will help you “network” and obtain the identities of the recruiters.
  • Identify 3-5 people to serve as references for your applications to these 5-10 employers. Give your references a copy of your resume and the names of the employers you are targeting. This will help your references to prepare their thoughts prior to any contact by the company.
  • Give 5 copies of your resume to a broad section of helpful adults along with a letter describing the positions and work culture that you seek. They will be able to pass your resume within their network. This is called passive job searching because you are not in total control of where your resume goes.
  • Post your targeted resume onto several job search engines, but be sure to read our tips in the Online Job Search section. This is also passive job searching since you are hoping legitimate employers will find you.
  • Give your resume and industry/career targets to a headhunter EVENTUALLY if you are not getting sufficient progress after several months of targeted applications. Be sure to protect your privacy and make sure your resume isn’t distributed to a wide variety of employers or misrepresented to employers.
  • Go to Career Fairs where these employers are recruiting.
Step 6: Follow the employers’ instructions for application.
  • Supply all the information the employer requests, preferably in one electronic or hard copy submission
Step 7: Follow-up with employers.
  • Contact the employer within 1-2 weeks of your application to ensure that they received your application materials and reaffirm your interest in their opportunities.
  • If an employer states “no phone calls” then do NOT call.
  • Send a thank you note to each person who helps you in your job search and each person that you meet as your targeted employer. These should be sent within a few days, preferably 24 hours, of your receiving assistance.
Step 8: Prepare fully for the interview and selection process.
Step 9: Obey directions.
  • During the selection process, follow the employers' directions specifically and meet all deadlines.
Step 10: Consider job offers.
  • Give yourself an opportunity to think over your job offers before accepting one.
  • Consider salary, benefits, training program, opportunity for advancement.
  • Also look at company culture and how you feel you will "fit in".
  • If you are moving away from family and friends, consider how that might affect your lifestyle.
  • Think about those qualities and characteristics that are most important to you.
  • Review our Job Offers section for more info.
Step 11: Accepting/Declining Job Offers
  • If an employer offers you a position you do not wish to accept, send a courteous letter to decline. Stay in contact with the best employers because you may want to apply to a position at their location after completing 2 years of service at your first professional position. In other words, once you have made a network of contacts with recruiters, don’t quickly dissolve those relationships. Continue to stay in contact each year and build your network for future career moves.
  • When accepting a job offer, Verbally confirm your acceptance and follow up with a written confirmation letter which reiterates salary, start date, and position title. Express your appreciation for the offer and state that you are looking forward to joining the organization. If applicable, specify when you will meet additional conditions of employment, such as a completing a medical exam or sending required documents.
  • Withdraw your candidacy from all other organizations. If you are participating in on-campus recruiting, notify Career Services.
  • De-activate your resume on all job search engines once you accept a position. You don’t want your new employer to find your resume and think you are still looking for a better job.

Fraudulent and Scam Job Postings

Students use a variety of resources to find a job or internship.  Unfortunately, we continue to see a number of employment scams that college students are encountering. Most recently, these scam artists have been directly emailing students about their supposed opportunities. Many students have reported the emails they receive say that the "employer" received the student's information through our Career Center. Unfortunately, a few have fallen prey to these ‘jobs'.

Here are some red flags to be aware of: 
1. You are contacted through an email account that is not identified with the organization name; they use a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL etc. address instead. Another indicator is if their email domain name doesn't match the business they claim to be working for. Look carefully for slight misspellings in the email address or web address.

2. You are contacted indicating "we got your resume from your school career center" and the email does not mention EIU or HANDSHAKE specifically. The email does not contain a specific job title or they are requesting your contact information again through email. Always be cautious when sharing personal information, such as mailing address, phone number, social security number, identification number, or banking information.

3. There is no specific location listed. Be suspicious if it is advertised as a local part-time position, but it lists the location as "nationwide."

4. You receive an unexpectedly large check in the mail. DO NOT attempt to cash it or deposit it into your account. Contact the police!

5. The job duties described are vague and/or the language is poor and full of grammatical errors.


Here is a recent example of a scam emailed to a student claiming to be from Advanced Processing and Imaging (API):

We have a vacancy for the position of an Customer Service Representative and an Accounts Officer. We are currently interviewing a couple of candidates for the position for the aforementioned positions. However, we have not sourced interested candidates for the position of the Account Officer. If you apply for that I can guarantee you the position if you are determined. Your primary responsibility as our account officer will be to handle payments from time to time from our customers. I am the head of the accounts department so I can assist you whenever you need more tutoring or information about the position. The form of payments from our customers usually come in check payments and bank transfers so its your choice to let us know which option suits you. I started from this level we are offering you so I can assure you that if you take the job seriously and are enthused in whatever tasks you are assigned you will be successful and promoted to a higher position in no time. Your starting salary will be between $5,000-$10,000 before tax along side company benefits on a monthly basis and you can make as much as $1,000 to $2,000 on a weekly basis. Please be aware that you can take this position regardless of your location we have customers worldwide and nationwide and the position is very flexible so in case you have another job you can still take this position. Kindly revert to me if you are interested with the following details.

First Name:
Last Name:
Mailing Address :
Zip Code:
Present Job(If any):
Mobile Phone #:
Contact Phone #:
Alternative Contact e-mail address:

Our Career Center works directly with legitimate employers looking to hire EIU students for full-time employment and internships. All job postings and employers requesting access to our HANDSHAKE site are pre-screened on a daily basis. E-mails generated from this database to students will have in the address.

More information about HANDSHAKE is available HERE 


 Please notify Career Services by calling 217-581-2412 or forward the details to

 End all communication with the employer, and if personal information was disclosed, monitor your accounts over the next few days, to be on the safe side.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided the following instructions for students who have responded to fraudulent postings:

• The student should immediately contact the local police. The police are responsible for conducting an investigation (regardless of whether the scam artist is local or in another state).

• If it is a situation where the student has sent money to a fraud employer, the student should contact their bank or credit card company immediately to close the account and dispute the charges.

• If the incident occurred completely over the Internet, the student should file an incident report with the United States Department of Justice at, or by calling the FTC at: 1 (877) FTC-HELP or 1 (877) 382-4357.

Check out their video for more tips! 


Employer Research

Researching employers is a critical part of your job search. Research assists you in learning more about an organization, contributes to your preparation for each interview, helps you prepare stronger cover letters and ultimately make informed decisions.

What to Look for

Where to Find Information

Commercial Websites

These websites will give you more detailed information about the employer, such as financial information, competitors, product lines, etc.

Industry Websites

These websites will help you assess what's going on in that particular employer's industry. Information obtained here can be a great asset during the job interview. It will help you identify your contributions to the employer's efforts to meet the challenges that exist in their industry.