Job Search Overview
Welcome to the job search! As you seek a professional employment situation, here are a few ideas to consider.
- Target a career field (or two). You may have already done this throughout your time in college, and much of the job search depends on your having done this career planning first! Read, listen, and learn as much as you can about your field. Review our Career Planning series of handouts, including Successful Career Planning, Researching Your Career, and Informational Interviewing. If you have not put forth time and effort into these basic steps in the years leading up to your job search, you might find the job search process somewhat confusing and without direction. But although it is not ideal, it’s still OK; you will not be the first college senior to overlap some career decision making with job searching! Your first job will not be your last, so think “short term solutions” and “long term planning” and enlist the assistance of a career counselor.
- Target a geographic location (or two, or three). While it is fine to say “I am willing to go wherever the job is,” usually it is helpful to have a few locations in mind so that you can launch a proactive job search. Maybe it’s where the hub of your career field is (Video Production, Los Angeles! Music Business, Nashville!), or maybe it’s your hometown because your family is there and you want to build a life nearby. You might choose location based on climate, somewhere you have always admired, a place you have friends/relatives so relocating and adjusting will be easier, or a variety of other reasons.
- Read a good job search book. The CDO has a few copies of What Color is Your Parachute? for sign-out, and on our website you will find JOB CHOICES, a magazine with some excellent articles about job searching. A job search is complicated, but as with any endeavor, it helps to understand the process and then adjust it to make it your own. Know that students/alumni before you have launched very successful searches; their advice is: have patience and be persistent.
- Create a LinkedIn profile. When your profile is complete, begin to connect with people in your industry and those who can help you move forward in your career. Always include a personal message when connecting! Read our Career Guide about using social media in your job search.
THE 20% VERSUS 80% RULE
It has long been quoted that only one-fifth of jobs are advertised, and the remaining four-fifths are filled through networking. So, DO look for advertised vacancies, the ads you find represent vacant jobs that truly need a candidate to be apply and eventually be hired. But spend only about 20% of your time on searching for and applying to advertised vacancies, while devoting 80% of your time to the networking aspects of the search. If employers are already aware of people interested and willing to work at their organization, they do not need to advertise. Be the inside candidate if you can! Realize that networking is not necessarily about who you are related to, or who you already know. You can create your own professional networks through informational interviewing, interning, and volunteering or shadowing.
ADVERTISED VACANCIES, the 20%:
- Newspaper employment sections: In the geographic areas you are targeting, find the site(s) for the local and regional newspaper(s), bookmark them, and check them often.
- Industry specific sources: These are vacancy listings in your particular field. You probably found many of these as you researched your career. Do a web search using the words “jobs” or “careers” plus the field you hope to enter; you will get hits of websites that list job openings for that field, company/organization websites listing current vacancies, professional associations, and more. Do this many times, varying your search words.
- Industry plus location searches: If you want to be an accountant in Buffalo, search “Accounting Jobs Buffalo NY” and you will get hits for specific employers, nationwide sites drilled down to the opportunities in Buffalo, and all sorts of connections that may prove useful in your search. Expect to spend a great deal of time sifting through and exploring.
- Employer websites: If you have heard about, been referred to, or admired any particular employers, go directly to their websites. Vacancies may be listed under a “careers” or “employment” tab.
- Professional Associations: There will often be a “career” or “jobs” tab listing vacancies, perhaps searchable by geographic location. Join while still a student; the registration fees are often much less costly! If you do not know what professional associations are relevant to your career field, do a web search with the words “professional associations” and a word or two describing your chosen career field.
VACANCIES THAT ARE NOT ADVERTISED, the 80%:
- Newspapers/periodicals: Use these not just for help wanted sections (to find some of the 20%), but read articles that might lead you to jobs that have not yet been advertised. For the geographic areas you are targeting, find the periodicals. Read them. Find out what is going on there. You may learn about opportunities before they hit the help wanted sections. You will learn about new businesses, new educational initiatives, growth or expansion of services. Then network accordingly.
- Organizations in your preferred geographic location: Find those companies, government agencies or non-profit organizations that hire employees in your field, but that don’t necessarily have any current vacancies. Express your interest by sending a resume and letter directly to whoever might have the authority to hire you, or to the human resources department. Find out where they might advertise if they had an opening. In addition to looking for a full-time job, can you ask for part-time, temporary, or even a volunteer/intern assignment? If you are “inside” the organization in one of these capacities, you may benefit by gaining more experience for your resume, or another reference. You may ultimately be offered the full-time job before it is advertised, or at least be a top candidate for the interview.
- Networking: In person or online, this means connecting. This is a process of gathering information, advice and referrals that will ultimately lead to interviews and employment. Meet, listen to and talk with people who have information that can help you. They may know of an opening, or of someone who hires. Contact the people who can hire. Ask for the job before the vacancy even exists, or before it gets to the 20% advertised stage. At the very least, perhaps they formerly worked at the type of job you want to do, and can offer you advice through an informational interview.
- Social Networking: This is just networking, but using current technology! Use LinkedIn, read blogs, follow companies on Twitter - do whatever is in vogue. The more you do, the more effort and time you spend on your job search, the more likely you are to see results. Position yourself for success in today’s world!
See these related Career Guides for other topics to be aware of in your job search:
- Long Distance Searching
- The Power of Networking
- Using LinkedIn and Social Media
- Resume - It typically takes 9-15 hours to perfect this document. Have it reviewed by a career counselor!
- Correspondence - Tailor your “cover letter” to the employer you are contacting. Have one reviewed!
- Interviewing - Begin practicing months before your first interview! Use InterviewStream to get started.