Job search strategies

Know yourself

You have unique interests, skills, strengths, and experiences.

  • Complete a career assessment to clarify your interests and meet with a career counselor.
  • Identify and compile all your academic and non-academic experiences such as college education, related coursework, certifications, specialized training, work, student, and community experiences (paid and unpaid).
  • Identify and list the transferable skills you have developed and demonstrated in the past.
  • Consider your strengths. List your top 10 strengths and personal qualities.
  • Consider what is most important to you. List your top 5 work values.
  • Meet with a career counselor if you need assistance clarifying your values, identifying your skills or determining your strengths.

Set career goals

Having an unclear job target can lengthen your job search. Employers prefer candidates with clear goals and career plans that align with their mission.

  • Investigate careers for your major.
  • Determine where you want to live and define a geographic location. If you have specific location in mind, identify companies and organizations in those areas.
  • Learn about specific areas of focus in job industries.
  • Research market trends in your industries for job demand and salary.
  • Identify specific goals to give your job search plan a focus and direction. Then establish sequenced action and activities to support your goals.
  • Identify potential employers that interest you and are best suited to your talents and values by conducting informational interviews. Join professional associations to connect with members and resources.
  • Learn more about potential employers
    • Use directories to research employers.
    • Research each employer’s web site to learn about its culture, values, and hiring process.
    • Consider the size of the organization, organizational culture, management style, professional development and other issues of importance to you.
  • Prioritize your list of potential employers.

Create your cover letter, resume, and prepare for interviews

Your cover letter and resume reflect you: your accomplishments, experiences, and style.

Prepare your resume and cover letter

  • Develop a draft of your resume and cover letter.
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position.
  • Meet with a career counselor to review your resume and cover letter.
  • Determine who you will use for references; ask permission to add them to your reference list.

Learn how to present yourself to employers

  • Update email addresses and voicemail messages to portray a professional image.
  • Acquire appropriate attire for job fairs and interviews.
  • Make a good first impression by engaging in common interests of the job or career.


Begin your search

Success doesn’t come to you, you have to create it.

Research employers, industries and occupations

The University Library system has numerous resources that can help you in the job search process.

Identify the job search strategies most appropriate for your field.

Examples include:

Develop a network

  • Brainstorm a list of people who work (or know someone) in the career areas you are interested in.
  • Create your sales pitch: a 20-30 second message to let the employer know your interest in a position and how you can contribute to their organization.
  • Schedule informational interviews with people who can assist you.

Begin contacting potential employers.

  • Send resumes and cover letters to people in your network.
  • Respond to job postings.

Follow up, follow up, follow up

Be proactive!

  • Follow up all your contacts with employers, either by phone, email or mail.
  • Send thank you letters or emails within 24 hours after an interview.
  • Provide requested information (transcripts, references, etc.) in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Keep a log. Include the name of the organization, contact person, method of application, date and status.
  • Note any hiring timelines and employment cycles for your preferred employers.

Stay focused and monitor your progress

Having a plan will keep you on track to success.

  • Remain focused on your career goals and action stops. Don’t give up!
  • Update your log and continue to document all job search activities and information.
  • Demonstrate flexibility in your job search and adapt your plan to new job leads.
  • Learn from your mistakes and maintain momentum.

Evaluate and negotiate offers

Make sure the job is a good fit.

  • Refer back to your work values to consider the factors most important to you in a position when making decisions.
  • Learn about successful salary negotiations and speak with a career counselor if you have questions. The key to successful salary negotiation is knowledge. Do your homework by learning the salary ranges for that particular company, salary ranges in the industry, and typical benefit packages.
  • Determine when, what and how to negotiate (keep benefit packages in mind).
  • Draft and rehearse a script to assist you in the negotiation process.
  • Once you have accepted an offer, remove yourself other consideration.


The typical job search takes 6-9 months. Start yours now!

Additional resources

On-campus interviewing [PDF]

Graduate and professional students' guide to career planning

Teacher job search