There are five steps to consider in a job search. Don’t frustrate yourself by applying for jobs before you have laid the groundwork to be successful. The job search timeline summarizes these steps.
Identify your job targets
You can’t reach your destination if you don’t know where you are headed. Use the Job Search Worksheet to help you reflect on your personal values and what is most important to you in a job.
Networking is the process of making personal connections and gaining useful information for career decision-making, professional advancement and success. How do you find people who can help you? Use the Discovering Your Network worksheet to get started.
Once you have a list of contacts, inform everyone about the type of job or career you are looking for, provide them with your resume, ask for information or possible job resources and/or contacts, check back on a regular basis (every 2-4 weeks), follow through on suggestions, and always thank them.
Research involves finding information on careers and employers. You need to know what opportunities exist and what kind of employer you would like to work for. As you research organizations, you can learn a lot about them by reading their mission statements and annual reports. For resources that can help you find this kind of information, click here.
One of the best ways to research a career is to conduct an informational interview. These are interviews that you do with a person working in a career or at a company in which you are interested. You are not interviewing for a position, but instead gathering more information and getting advice.
Preparation includes writing a resume and a cover letter, talking to your references and getting ready to interview. Consider your job targets and customize the resume to the employer and the position. If starting a resume from scratch, a tool like Optimal Resume can be very helpful in constructing the resume. Develop a reference list to give to employers when asked.
The job interview is the stage where the employer will make a decision about hiring you. Go into an interview well prepared and ready to give examples of your accomplishments and abilities. Be prepared to talk about specific, concrete examples from your past experiences. Practice your interviewing skills by doing a mock interview at the UCC or use Optimal Interview to practice.
Implement the plan
Finally, you will develop a plan and get active! Implementing a job search is more than just one activity – it is a series of different activities going on at the same time. For example, on a weekly basis:
- Respond to job ads (10 or more). Click here for job listings.
- Do an informational interview.
- Send resumes to 5 companies based on articles you have read.
- Discuss job leads with 2 contacts, send follow-up resume.
- Select 3 companies through library/web research and send letter/resume.
- Attend networking events.
The more you can make contact with potential employers, the more likely you will find a job. Get out there and talk to people, make contacts, make phone calls, submit applications. You need to keep track of all your contacts, applications sent, calls made, and everything to do with your job search. Develop some system that works for you – either a spreadsheet, a folder, or a notebook.
Finding a job is hard work! It can take 3 to 6 months to find your first job, depending on how much time you spend on the search. Two-thirds of job hunters spend only 5 hours/week on their job hunt.