Linda (not her real name) graduates at the end of the semester, and she’s feeling excited, stressed, anxious, hopeful, and scared. With papers to write, tests to study for, a presentation to give, and projects to complete, she has trouble concentrating on her job search.
Feeling overwhelmed is understandable, so the first thing that Linda needs to do is to create a plan. This will organize her job search and give her control over the tasks. Following are the five steps that Linda is taking to get her job search going in the right direction.
Step 1: Know yourself.
Know who you are and what you have to offer an employer. This may sound like common sense, but unfortunately, many job seekers struggle with communicating this to employers.
“Of course I know who I am,” Linda says. But when she’s asked to define herself and explain her interests and skills, she’s not sure where to start. She struggles when asked to describe what she values most in a career. Linda decides to make an appointment with a Career Resources Specialist to learn more about self-assessment and how to express herself to an employer.
Step 2: Know what you’re looking for.
Linda selected her major because it was broad and offered such a variety of possible careers. Unfortunately, she hasn’t explored the direction she’d like to start with. She had an internship with a non-profit organization, but isn’t sure if that’s the area she wants to pursue.
After looking at “What Can I Do with This Major?” on the Career Center’s website, Linda decides to begin with more business-oriented positions. She’s worked part-time in retail positions and has had the opportunity to do some training and supervising, so she lists management, human resources, and training and development as a few possible career directions.
In addition, Linda uses Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com to explore the kinds of positions employers are hiring for and the skills employers are seeking. As she researches positions, she also notes the companies, so she can research them in more detail.
Learning that the Career Center’s online access to search jobs (called JobTracks) is free to students and alumni, Linda logs in and notices that many employers are interested in all majors. Once she finds postings that appeal to her, she reads their descriptions and instructions for applying.
Step 3: Prepare your job search materials.
Linda soon realizes that her résumé may be too generic for the specific positions she wants to apply for. After consulting the Career Center’s website for résumé information, Linda visits the Career Center’s walk-in hours for a peer advisor to review her résumé and provide tips on tailoring it for specific positions. While there, she also gets advice on writing cover letters.
Step 4. Network and manage your brand.
Because she knows most people get their jobs by networking, Linda makes a list of contacts (such as friends, family, and fellow members in her organizations and associations). She then updates her LinkedIn profile and checks her privacy settings for Facebook (deciding to keep her education and work history public). She makes sure that everything in her social media accounts is acceptable and that nothing would embarrass her or be offensive to potential employers. Finally, she Googles herself to make sure her online presence is positive.
Step 5. Practice your interview techniques.
Realizing that many interviewers wouldn’t consider her Capri pants appropriate interview attire, Linda selects clothes that send a more professional message. To practice, she schedules a mock interview with the Career Center.
Linda knows she has other tasks to complete for an effective job search, but at least these five steps will give her more control as she begins the process of finding a career.