Job Search Guide
The job-search process can be exciting and challenging. It's exciting to explore all the possibilities open to you. If also takes time, energy, and a lot of organizing. The job search will include rejections and some stress, but eventually you'll find a job that's a good fit for you.
Until you find that job that fits you, think of your job search as an opportunity to meet new people, practice your communication and organizational skills, and learn more about yourself.
Self-Assessment and Preparation are key.
A successful job search requires preparation. Good preparation means more than just searching for job openings and applying. You should also research yourself. By starting with a thorough self-assessment—of your skills, interests, preferred work environment, values, and needs—you'll have a better sense of what kind of job you want. This will help you determine which jobs or fields to focus on most, or where.
Plan accordingly, be patient,
and don't get discouraged
if it takes a while.
It's possible you already know your interests, skills, and preferences, but you're not sure what types of jobs match them. Consider taking an online interest or personality assessment to get help with this. You can also visit the CLA Career Services office to browse books and magazines about career options, talk to a Peer Advisor for advice, or schedule an appointment with a career counselor.
How and Where to Search for Jobs Online
- See our Links page for a list of job and internship search-sites.
- Visit the websites of companies that interest you. Some companies post openings there first, or only there.
- Browse the websites of professional associations related to fields that interest you.
- Browse affinity group websites, like sites targeting women, African Americans, professionals with disabilities, and more.
Manage your online persona smartly. Set your privacy settings to high. Don't post photos or pages that make you look unprofessional. Anyone can search and find that, including potential employers!
Advantages to Online Searching and Networking
The Internet is a great tool to use in the job search. Just remember it's not the only way to find a job, or even the best way. But it is convenient, and it allows you to search local, national, and international job markets.
You can also use the Internet as a networking tool. It's a helpful way to meet people in professions that interest you, or to get leads about jobs. You can do this through chat rooms, listservs, and social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook. Remember to be professional and keep your private data private.
Not All Sites Are Reliable!
- Do the job listings include dates so you can tell if they're current? How often are they updated?
- Is the site a privacy risk? Note what personal information they require, and avoid sites that ask for your social security number or financial information.
- Who runs the website—are they reputable?
- Do you know anyone who has used the site and had successful results?
How to Find Positions
There are differing opinions on the best ways to find job openings. Doing a jobs search online is one way, but don't rely on the internet too much. A lot of jobs aren't advertised, and one of the best ways to find unadvertised jobs—or any job—is through networking.
Other ways to learn about job openings
- On-Campus recruiting
- Job Fairs, like the annual U of M Job and Internship Fair
- Informational Interviews
- The classified ads in newspapers. Check out the actual papers too—not all papers post job ads online.
- Professional Associations in fields that interest you
- Temp agencies or placement agencies. This can be a good way to get your foot in the door of a company that interests you.
- State employment service offices (e.g., Minnesota Workforce Centers)
- Company HR offices. Contact the Human Resources department of a company that interests you and ask if they have any openings. Consider sending them a tailored resume.
Dos and Don'ts of the Job Search
Do these things
- Spend time building a professional network. A significant portion of your job-hunting time should be spent networking. It's one of the best ways to find a job.
- Go on Informational Interviews to learn about a company or a job field.
- Keep a job search log or journal. This will help you keep track of application deadlines, what materials you've submitted where and when, and any commitments you made to follow up with employers or networking contacts.
- Create one or more resumes tailored to specific positions, fields, or organizations that interest you. Resumes that are relevant to a particular opening are much more likely to result in a job interview.
- Call a week after you submit your materials to see if they were received and ask how the interview process is set up. Take a moment to let them know you are genuinely interested in the position.
- Attend job fairs. These give you a chance to meet recruiters in person and make a good impression! Check out our Events page for upcoming fairs.
- Spend time researching details about potential employers and their specific openings.
- At every stage of the job-search process, be sure to have the correct spelling of all contacts.
- Be prepared for the interview stage!
Don't do these things
- Don't mass mail your resume (email or postal mail). Tailor and send a resume for each position you apply for.
- Don't rely on the Internet alone!
- Don't just call a company and ask about job openings. Try requesting an Informational Interview to develop a professional contact with the organization.
- Don't address cover letters or inquiries with "Dear Sir/Madame" or "To Whom It May Concern." You will stand out if you take the time to find out who to address the letter to. Call the company to ask!
- Don't discuss salary, benefits, or other negotiable items during the initial job search process. Wait until after an offer is made.