Top tips for your job search
Your individual job search strategy needs to be tailored to your individual situation. The following tips apply to everyone, whether you are seeking an internship, co-op or permanent position, whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student.
1. Have focus and do research to get there if needed.
Understand the types of jobs that would be fit for your skills and qualifications and interests and the settings and industries where you can find those jobs. Even if you are pursuing multiple options, keep your job search efforts targeted. If you are seeking any job, with any type of employer, doing anything, you will not be successful, because employers are seeking focus. Researching employers can help you focus. If you need career exploration, see what can I do with my major? and info about careers and the job market.
2. Don't put all your eggs in one basket = one type of job search method.
If you limit your job search to just one method (e.g. just looking online on one web site; just looking at one organization, etc.), you will limit your options. Use a mix of methods and sources.
3. No one job search method will reveal all of the jobs out there.
Not every kind of job or industry is represented in every job search method. For example there are many jobs you will not find through the On-Campus Interviewing Program, and there are many jobs you will not find posted on job boards online. And the vast majority of employers do not physically come to campus for fairs and other kinds of recruitment. If you want to maximize your options, you will need to use pros and cons of the ways to look for jobs.)
4. Start early.
That means at the beginning of your final year if you're completing your degree, and it means in fall if you're looking for a summer internship.
Some employers look for hires and recruit many months in advance of the anticipated work-start date.
If you don't start early, you can still find opportunity, but you may miss out on some of the options.
5. Learn how others pursuing your career field or industry have been successful.
Notice the plural on "others." Don't limit yourself to one source.
Talk to faculty in your department.
Talk to students who will graduate (or have graduated) ahead of you.
Talk to members of your professional associations and student chapters of professional organizations.
Find and introduce yourself to alumni networking contacts in Hokie Nation Network.
How EMPLOYED grads found their jobs, by college (pdf). (source: Post-Graduation Report)
See this for your major: Post-Graduation Report > full report > select view by major > employment > job / employer source.
Networking is usually a top method.
6. Learn to think beyond major.
Some of you have a major that equals a job title. Most of you don't.
Learn to think about occupations, career fields, industries, and kinds of employers, including businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.
Research careers and industries.
7. Recognize the distinction between finding jobs and having job search skills.
If you have success in finding jobs to which to apply, but are missing essential job search skills, you may undermine your opportunity for success. You will be judged and evaluated on all your actions in a job search: phone use, e-mail, hard copy correspondence, resume, your online presence, your interviewing skills, handshake, dining etiquette and more. Know the skills before you start contacting employers.
8. Don't expect your job search to be quick and easy.
A job search is hard work. Your motivation and attitude are the keys to your success. Expect to put in as much work, for two semesters, as a really tough 3-credit-hour class in which you want to get an A. It's worth that to you.
Q: What mistakes do students tend to make in the job search?
A: The most basic mistake is just not using and reading available resources.
Another is not having focus to the job search. The "I'll take any job" approach doesn't really help you get any job; instead it gives the employer the impression you don't know what you want to do.
Some students do earnestly work for many hours to perfect their resumes, but then neglect to adequately prepare for interviews or other skills needed.
Sometimes smart, capable students are derailed by a lack of knowledge of social and interpersonal skills appropriate to the workplace.
Focusing on self-needs only can derail a job search. Do focus on what you can do for the employer. That makes you an appealing job candidate.