Step 1. Self Assessment
To prepare for an effective job search, you must understand your abilities, talents, interests, values, needs, and goals. Although this sounds basic, it is an important but often forgotten step. You must know yourself to the extent that you can look a prospective employer in the eye and tell him/her what professional and personal skills and characteristics you have that qualify you for the position for which you are applying. Many students underestimate themselves. Take a personal inventory of your:
- education: favorite subjects, best subjects, academic achievements
- abilities: organizational, interpersonal, artistic, creative
- paid/volunteer experience: duties and levels of responsibility, variety of experiences, accomplishments
- interests and hobbies: community involvement, recreational activities, awards
- goals: type of lifestyle, what you want to accomplish
It is very important that you are honest with yourself when doing your self-assessment. Be aware of personal likes and dislikes as well as possible weaknesses or liabilities. A self-assessment is the foundation of your job search.
Step 2: Career Identification And Employment Research
Before beginning a job search, you must know what type of employment you are seeking. What career fields interest you? The familiar responses, "I want to work with people" or "I'm interested in making a lot of money" or "I want something in sociology'' are all inadequate definitions of career identification.
If you want to work with people, for example, do you want to gather information from people by talking to them as a newspaper reporter does, investigate people through contact with other people as a law enforcement officer does, or influence the attitudes and ideas of others as a salesperson does?
In addition to your immediate career objectives, you should also be thinking about career goals. You do not necessarily have to know exactly where you want to be five years after graduation, but you should have a general picture of an occupational interest for the next few years. In order to know how your abilities and interests can be put to best use in the job market, you need to know the types and functions of entry-level positions for your chosen field(s), their availability and location, starting salary ranges, current trends and issues, and potential career progressions.
To plan your job search campaign and to effectively sell yourself, you need to identify employers and know specific information about each organization (e.g., size and location[s] of operations, products/services, history, prospects for growth, present employment picture, a general view of the department in which you would like to work, and advancement opportunities). Three good ways to research in careers and employers are described below.
To research careers and employers, take advantage of the resources that are available in the Career Services Office. Additional resources are available on the Internet. On-line assistance includes company/ school information, job listings, employer directories, discussion groups for networking, and resume data bases.
To increase your awareness about professional opportunities and career fields, conduct a campaign of information interviews with people directly involved in areas of your interest.
Networking means making contacts, creating alliances, building support groups and befriending other people with similar professional interests. This process is an important part of your career development and may ultimately net you a job.
Step 3: Contacting Employers
The first thing you should realize before launching your job search campaign is that each type of employment has its own unique style of hiring. The hiring methods of advertising agencies differ from those of newspapers. Similarly, the hiring methods of newspapers differ from those of public accounting firms, which differ from those of educational institutions. In addition, large, complex organizations often use different hiring procedures to fill different types of positions. Therefore, job seekers should use a variety of methods to contact prospective employers, rather than limiting themselves to one method. On campus interviewing, for example, is often viewed as the only way to get a job... yet not all employers recruit on campus for all of their personnel needs. Other effective approaches which can be used in your job search include:
- contacting organizations directly through a mail/e-mail campaign, a personal visit or through their Web site;
- networking or utilizing your contacts with faculty, alumni, family, and friends as well as employers in organizations where you have worked or volunteered;
- responding to vacancies announced on the Career Services job board, in professional journals, in newspaper classified advertisements and on various Internet sites.
Regardless of your career interest, it is important for you to let as many potential employers as possible know who you are, what you can do, and why you are interested in their organizations. The more specific you can be in discussing why you are interested in them and what you can contribute to their organizations, the more effective your contact will be. The Career Services staff can help you to identify the most effective methods of contacting potential employers in your field and to plan your individual job search campaign.