by Valerie Turner
Many job seekers approach their search in an unorganized, haphazard way. They often don’t have a plan, don’t know how to strategize, and often don’t even know what their career goal is. Whether you’re looking for a full-time job or an internship, these six steps will help you achieve more effective results
Step 1: Know what you want to do.
My new favorite saying is “Discover your why.” Unfortunately, this first step is sometimes the one that prevents people from moving forward. So, what do you do if you don’t know what you want to do?
Research: Everyone should do this anyway, even if you know what you want to do. With all the research English majors do, you should be well prepared for this. To begin, make a list of keywords (e.g. blogger or blogging, editor or editing, writer or writing, etc.) to use in your search. Here are some good websites to use in your research:
- “What Can I Do with This Major?”
- Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, CareerOneStop, and O*NET
- LinkedIn (use the Alumni section of LinkedIn to see what other English majors are doing and have done)
- Handshake (Also access through Missouristate.edu and through the Career Center’s website).
Step 2: Keep organized records.
Use a calendar to block time to spend on the job search process. Make to-do lists. Use an Excel spreadsheet to track employer contacts and method of contact, dates, research findings, progress of the job search, etc. Microsoft has a template for a job-search log, but you can find others on the web.
Step 3: Make a list of ten or more employers you would be interested in working for.
Most people need to do some research before they can do this, because we tend to think of well-known companies (Hello, Google and Apple) rather than companies we seriously would like to work for. (Of course, if you seriously want to work for Google or Apple, add them to your list.) With that list, research each of the employers thoroughly (LinkedIn, Indeed, Handshake, Glassdoor, Vault, etc.).
Once you have the list, research each company to learn details about it, including the kinds of positions the company has, who would be good contacts to reach out to, and if any Missouri State alumni work there. Search for the company on LinkedIn to see if any alumni or any of your contacts work there. Those individuals would be great sources of advice.
Step 4: Make a list of the skills that you have and want to use in your occupation.
Once you have that list, go through each one and write an accomplishment story for it. Actually write this down—not to memorize it, but to help solidify it in your mind. The accomplishment story includes these steps:
- Describe the situation in which you used this skill.
- Describe the task that you were faced with.
- Describe the specific actions you took (describe the process step-by-step)
- Describe the results (quantify the results when possible)
Step 5: Prepare your job search materials
- Résumés (customize for each position)
- Attend the free résumé webinar: A Recruiter’s Point of View. The recruiters will walk you through the process of creating a resume (February 4, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM)
- Get your résumé and cover letters reviewed during the Career Center’s Virtual Drop-in Hours.
- Cover letters
- Mock interviews (Mock Interview event on April 21, both online & in-person, at this point)
- LinkedIn profile and other social media platforms (clean up digital dirt)
- Need business attire? JC Penney Suit-Up Event (online) is going from January 31 to February 5.
- Speed Networking Event in March or April (The date will be announced at a later time.)
- Ask questions at the Career Center’s frequent Instagram Live sessions. Watch recorded sessions such as “How to Not Sabotage Yourself during Virtual Events,” in which guest speaker Sarah Davidson discusses tips and tricks to help you succeed in a virtual environment. You can view this at @msucareercenter.
Step 6: Participate in opportunities to meet and talk with employers and professionals working in fields that interest you.
- Attend campus and community organizations that bring in guest speakers (such as STC).
- Attend Virtual Career Fair Week, February 9–12. These are free, but registration is required.
- Business Career Fair, February 9
- Marketing, Communication, & Arts Career and Networking Fair, February 9
- Manufacturing, Agriculture, Construction, & Engineering Career Fair, February 10
- Health & Science Career and Networking Fair, February 11
- Social Services, Government & Non-profit Organizations Career and Networking Fair, February 11
- Education Career Fair, February 12
To help you get ready for the virtual career fairs, the Career Center has several free Virtual Career Fair Preparation Workshops, February 2, 3, and 8. Sign-up is requested.
Valerie Turner is a Career Resources Specialist with the Missouri State University Career Center and a per-course faculty member in the English Department.