For Undergraduates: Career Toolkit

Manage Your Job Search

Three important factors for a successful job search are the ability to articulate your goals and skills, an understanding of the employment market, and a well-planned job search campaign.

ON THIS PAGE: 
Introduction 
Getting Ready 
Doing the Research 
Creating a Strategic Plan 
Developing Your Job Hunting Skills 
Executing the Plan 
Job Listing Resources 
Evaluating Options and Making Informed Decisions 
A Final Note 
Meet with a Career Coach about Your Job Search 
More Information

Introduction

Job seekers need to be well prepared and knowledgeable about the proper strategies to plan and implement a successful job search campaign. Creating a strategic plan will help you focus and better manage how you spend your time. By following the steps outlined below, you can be in control of your search and reach or come close to one of the destinations that you choose.

You will be best prepared to take on the demands of your job search after you have completed the first two stages of the career development process, self-assessment and career exploration.

Getting Ready

Step 1 in the CEC's career development process, Assessment, provides invaluable information for your career decision-making and prepares you to market yourself successfully. The focus is on you! To prepare for an effective job search, it is important that you can articulate your strengths and professional goals. How can you seek a position if you don't know what you want from a job and what you have to offer prospective employers? Review the information in Assess Who You Are before proceeding to the next step. If you are not clear about your strengths and goals, you may also want to consider meeting with a career coach (see below).

Doing the Research

Once you have a clear view of your strengths, interests, abilities, and other attributes you need to explore what is "out there" in the word of work. What are your options? This is Step 2 in the CEC's career development process, Exploration.

Successful job seekers have good career, job and labor market information and are aware of what the options are in the workplace. Avoid the shotgun approach of applying randomly to job postings. Rather, do the research on the industry, job sectors and roles you plan to pursue so your options are clear. The more you are able to identify your target positions, the more likely you will be to end up there!

If you have not done so already, check out the Explore Majors & Careers page in the Career Toolkit for more information and use the company and job listing resources found in this section. Then consider the following action steps:

Action Steps
  • Based on your job market research, focus on a few job titles for the jobs you really want
  • Create a target list of employers who employ people in those roles
  • Research those employers thoroughly online and through networking

Creating a Strategic Plan

If you have completed the first two steps in the career development process and have a clearer understanding both of yourself and the opportunities available in the job market, you are ready to move to the next phase of your job search campaign.

Begin by creating a strategic plan to serve as a compass to guide you in the job search process. If you haven't met with a career coach, plan to arrange a meeting. Begin this process 9-12 months before your target date to be employed since on the average it takes 6-9 months or more to land a job.

However, locking yourself into a plan with the goal of finding an "ideal" job is too limiting. Rather, consider other options, broaden your scope and create strategic Plans A, B and C. Think "outside the box" and be creative. Consider an interim position, such as a bridge job that gets you closer to your ideal position. Look into internships, or explore temping as a possible way in to an organization. Have a back-up Plan C to earn income if you are unable to implement Plan A or B within your timeline.

Action Steps

Developing Your Job Hunting Skills

With your plan and good employment market information in hand, now is the time to develop and fine-tune your job hunting skills. Follow these action steps:

Action Steps
  • Get started early and stay organized. The length of a job search will vary, but the average job search can take six months for recent graduates. Impacting factors include the type of position targeted, hiring practices in a particular industry, your skill level and the amount of time you devote to your search. Use this Senior Job Search Timeline to set goals and manage your job search.
  • Develop effective marketing tools - spend the necessary time to create a powerful resume and cover letter that focus on demonstrating to the employer that you have what they need. Be sure to emphasize your strengths and accomplishments and have a CEC career coach review your documents.
  • Prepare to market yourself "verbally" to people you know and meet, including during networking activities and interviewing. Develop a brief and compelling "elevator speech" as well as a two-minute infomercial to capture the listener's attention and highlight your skills, accomplishments, and experience.
  • Build your online brand by creating a profile and getting connected on LinkedIn, a professional networking site with over 100 million registered users. You can research companies, join and contribute to groups, including the Simmons College group, set up informational interviews to gather information, advice, and leads relevant to your job search, and much more
  • Join a local job search networking group or job club
  • Prepare for the most frequently asked interview questions. Write down your answers and practice out loud with a friend who can give you constructive feedback.

Executing the Plan

Now your job search is in full swing! In the CEC's career development process, you are at Step 4, Implementation.

Since employers are often deluged with resumes for a particular job opening, competition can be extremely high. It is not usual for job seekers to respond to 50 job postings in order to land just one interview. How can a job seeker possibly stand out amidst the competition and clutter?

The answer is to be proactive, not reactive. Networking is the best way to find job leads and tap into the hidden job market. Continue to research organizations online, and take advantage of a multitude of job posting sites, many of which can be found in Simmons Library Career Guides. There you will find job sites specific to career fields, such as nursing, accounting, and human services. Once you identify an organization and a position of interest to you, consider how you can network your way into the organization, get a referral, and stand out from the crowd so you are not just another anonymous applicant in the resume pool.

Job Listing Resources

As noted above, there is an almost endless number of job sites to check listings. The following are selected sites to help get your search moving:

Action Steps
  • Network! Network! Network! - a reported 70-80 percent of job seekers find their position through contacts. Many jobs in the "hidden job market" are not posted and must be discovered through people you meet. Review the Optimize Your Networking page for ideas on how to network and where.
  • Apply to posted positions - but remember, only 20% of existing jobs are posted while 80% of job seekers apply for them.
  • Contact recruiters and employment agencies - to locate temporary work assignments, which may lead to permanent employment. Ask professionals in your chosen field if they can recommend a specific firm or recruiter. Usually recruiters work better with experienced professionals and those in a defined field such as accounting or marketing.

Evaluating Options and Making Informed Decisions

Congratulations! You've received a job offer. Now what?! This is Step 5 in the CEC career development process, Decision-Making. it's the moment you've been waiting for:

Action Steps
  • Analyze the offer, using criteria you determined earlier in your job search, including fit with your goals and the outcomes from your self-assessment exercises
  • Weigh your options
  • Review the CEC document Steps for Effective Negotiations
  • Review the Career Toolkit information on negotiating a job offer
  • If you want, meet with a CEC career coach to assist you with the decision-making process and to prepare for negotiation
  • Negotiate
  • Decide!

A Final Note

Throughout your job search, remember to strive for the three P's - be Proactive, Persistent and Patient:

  • Have confidence and remain optimistic about finding a job
  • Set goals, follow through, and actively engage in the process outlined above
  • Create a weekly plan, keep good records, and build in accountability with a friend or job search buddy
  • Focus on what you have control over - your job search campaign — not the overall economy
  • Get the support you need - finding a job can be a full-time job!
  • Be realistic and manage your expectations - your next job may not be that perfect job, but it's a next step. It may also take longer than you expect to secure a position, which is especially true in a tougher job market.

Meet with a Career Coach about Your Job Search

As outlined above, undertaking a job search is a multi-step process that can unfold over several months. You will succeed if you are organized and clear about yourself and your objectives. If, after reviewing the above, you feel you could benefit from the expertise of a CEC career coach in preparing for and managing any aspect of your job search - from clarifying your personal strengths and career goals, to exploring the employment market, to building your job search strategy, to preparing your marketing tools and practicing interviewing skills - then consider contacting the CEC to set up an appointment with a coach.

For More Information

Simmons Resources
Additional Resources

Check out the STEPS Career Development Plan

To learn more about the STEPS Career Development Plan based on the 5 Step Model and developed specifically for Simmons undergraduate students, visit the STEPS Plan page.

Find a Job or Internship

Check out CA$H for on-campus and work-study jobs, CareerLink for internships and full-time jobs, and the other job boards and resources we've compiled.

Meet with a Career Coach

Wondering where to start? Let us help. Drop by Monday or Tuesday from 3:00-4:30 or Wednesday or Thursday from 1:30-3:00; or, make an appointment at a time convenient to you.

Next Career Event

REGISTRATION OPENS: Road Trips to the Real World

Nov 1, 2014 at 1:00 AM (Ongoing through 12/12/2014) at Various Locations

WHERE WILL YOU BE DURING JANUARY BREAK? If you will be in the eastern region, from Maine down through Virginia, take advantage of the Road Trips to the Real World program, a series of employer site visits from January 5 - 16, 2015. This is your opportunity to get your foot in the door, literally, of participating employers… but space is limited so sign up right away. For some sites, spots fill up VERY quickly, so act now. The registration deadline has been extended to December 12th, 2014; register at http://eace.site-ym.com/?598. At each site, you will get an in-depth look at how the business operates and see firsthand the potential jobs that are available. You will also network with employees and get a head start on your career choice. This is an opportunity you do not want to miss!

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