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 http://www.uschamber.org 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 Hoovers.com;Bloomberg.com; 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.