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Job Search Tips

From Cal U's Career and Professional Development Center

Is your student graduating soon and concerned about finding employment in a tight market? With the current challenges in the U.S. and global economy, it may be more difficult for graduates to find a job this year. However, don’t despair!  Here are some tips to help your student develop their own  “economic stimulus package” and increase the chances of job search success. 

  • Visit the campus Career & Professional Development Center. The Center has the staff and resources to help students “quick start” the job search, including job postings, lists of job fairs and networking events, on campus interviews, and other resources to help you connect with employers and alumni. The staff can also help to identify unique qualifications, target a resume and job search, help to create your “brand” and build a professional network. 
  • Network, network, network.  Pointing and clicking at your computer isn’t going to get you a job in this economy. More than 85% of people find their jobs through networking because many jobs go unadvertised.  Talk to everyone you know and meet; let them know your career interests and geographical preferences. Attend job fairs and Network for job success.professional organization meetings in your field and get involved with them to meet more people. You should also get involved with your university’s alumni association, which is a great way to network with other graduates.
  • Log on and clean up your online profile. Networking sites and discussion groups like LinkedIn can be great ways to connect with people in your profession and learn about trends and opportunities in the field.  You can meet and be in contact with large numbers of people without the pressure of participating. You can determine how engaged you want to be, from just listening to the discussions to posting to the conversations.  However, professionalism is critical. Employers may be checking the sites for information on potential candidates. Your online image is just as important as your face-to-face image, so clean up your Facebook and other social media profiles!
  • Use your best job search manners.  A little appreciation goes a long way.  Send thank-you notes to individuals who help in any way with your job search, from writing a reference to providing a job lead. Thank-you letters sent after an interview are also important.  
  • Volunteer your time and skills. Even if you’re not working full-time, you can continue to hone your skills and gain experience by volunteering or doing a “post-graduate internship.” In addition to contributing your time and talents to a worthy cause, you will meet people who may be good sources of job information.
  • Consider temporary work. Third-party employment agencies provide contracted services to employers that have positions to fill.  As a job seeker, they will be able to look for jobs for you.  However, never pay a fee for this service; work only with employment agencies that charge a fee to employers, not job candidates.  Ask others to recommend employment agencies that focus on filling positions in your field of interest.  Meet with a representative to determine if the agency can provide the services that you need.
  • Consider grad school. When the economy goes south, some graduates decide to continue their education, to make themselves more marketable in the future.  However, there are some issues to consider before you invest time and money in a graduate program.  Be sure you know if the jobs you seek require that you have more focus on a specialized area of study or an advanced degree, and know the job market.  If you are still unsure of what you want to do, make an appointment with your career advisor.
  • Boost your resume by volunteering. Be flexible. Do your research to find out typical career paths to get the job you really want. Your first, entry-level job might not be your dream job, but it doesn’t have to be forever and could lead to the job you really want. You’re showing an employer that you’re working and will have references that can attest to your work ethic and other skills. Expand your search geographically. It may seem scary moving to another town; however, the more willing you are to expand your search geographically, the more likely you are to increase the number of opportunities in your field. 
  • Be persistent.  “Help Wanted” signs may be far and few between, but there are jobs out there for students who are prepared.  Be persistent, follow up with employers that interest you, and be professional.  The more jobs to which you apply, the better your chances of getting interviews, and ultimately, getting a job.
  • Be patient, but have a plan.  The average job search for an entry-level job can take from three to six months.  In a tight economy, recruiting budgets may be tight so employers are cautious about filling positions. The job search process usually has several steps (completing an online application…getting the first interview…participating in several follow-up interviews…getting an offer…accepting an offer) so begin at least a few months in advance. 

~The Career & Professional Development Center is located in Natali Student Center Suite 138. We encourage students to take advantage of our services and events throughout the year and look forward to working with them to identify and secure meaningful and rewarding careers. Students can reach us at 724-938-4413 to schedule an appointment or stop by the Center for some quick tips during our walk-in hours every Monday from 2-4 p.m. and every Tuesday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

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