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.
As you seek career opportunities, it is important to be 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. Use the steps below as a guide for your job search. Know that this is process; it takes time and energy to find what you are looking for.
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.
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.
As you are able, keep seeking opportunities to learn about career options that interest you. Try to find a balance between applying for job postings online and building your network. Research your career area of interest and roles you want 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 are still exploring academic programs, check out Career Exploration for more information and use the company and job listing resources found in this section. Consider the following action steps:
- Based on your career research, focus on a few job titles for the jobs you are drawn to
- Create a target list of employers who employ people in those roles
- Research those employers thoroughly online and through your social contacts
If you have completed the first two steps in the career development process and have a clearer understanding both of yourself and opportunities available, you are ready to move to the next phase of your job search.
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.
With your job search plan and new information learned from your career research process, now is the time to develop and fine-tune your job searching skills. Follow these action steps:
- Get started early and stay organized. The length of a job search will vary, but the average job search can take up to 6-9 months. 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.
- 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 groups (including the Simmons University group), set up informational interviews, and build your profile up to effectively market yourself.
- 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.
Now your job search is in full swing! In the CEC's career development process, you are at Step 4, Implementation.
Since employers may receive an overwhelming amount of 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? The answer is to be proactive, not reactive. Having connections (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 have your name stand out in the applicant pool.
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:
- Handshake - many employers prefer to hire Simmons students and alumnae/i and post their openings on our job board, so start here!
- Student Employment - for short-term, in-semester opportunities, this separate board maintained by Benefits & Payroll carries work-study (both on- and off-campus) and general employment opportunities. Like Handshake, the listings on Student Employment are seeking Simmons students.
- Simmons Library Guide for Job Searching See the Simmons Library Career Guides by Discipline to find resources specific to your areas of interest
- Visiting specific company websites - eg, Citizens Bank, Home for Little Wanderers, etc. - most large companies have a specific pages where they post their listings that might be called “Career” or “Work with Us” or “Get Involved”
- Professional association websites - see the Simmons Library Networking Career Guide to get you started
- General job search sites such as Indeed.com and Simply Hired, that carry all postings in one place
- 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 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.
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:
- 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. What option feels most sustainable for you given your needs? What option aligns with your values, goals and who you are?
- 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
- 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
- Lean into your support systems, and don’t hesitate to get professional support with navigating stress around this transition - finding a job can be a full-time job and it takes much of your energy!
- 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.
- Be gentle with yourself. Remember this is a lifelong process, and finding a role, job or career that aligns with you takes time. Acknowledge how far you have already come!
Undertaking a job search is a multi-step process that can unfold over several months. You may find opportunities you are looking for if you stay organized and clear about your needs in a job. 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 - set up an appointment online through Handshake.
- E-mail Guidelines for the Job Search
- CEC's Job Search Checklist
- CEC's Self-Marketing Plan
- CareerSpots Videos
- Simmons Library Guide for Job Searching
- Senior Job Search Timeline
Job and Internship Listings
The CEC maintains Handshake, the primary Simmons database for full-time jobs, internships, part-time work, fellowships, and some volunteer opportunities. Learn more about Handshake and register to schedule an appointment with a career coach.
For student employment, including work-study jobs as well as general on-campus employment for all students, along with off-campus work-study opportunities, visit Student Employment, overseen by Benefits & Payroll.
Additional job and internship listings can be found via the Career Resources page
Job & Internship Listings
The CEC maintains:
- Handshake - internships and full- and part-time jobs, plus selected volunteer and fellowship opportunities
For additional job bank information see:
- Student Employment - maintained by Benefits & Payroll
- Career Search Library - Library guide with access to numerous additional online jobs databases and aggregators
Selected Regional and National Resources
- DOL (US Department of Labor)
- BLS ( Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- OOH (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition)
- Live Career