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Job Search Strategy
The process of looking for a job after graduation can feel like an overwhelming task. The Career Development Center is here to support you in your journey to find that next opportunity. While each student has unique interests, skills, and values these are some steps to begin thinking about your job search. For one-on-one assistance, make an appointment with your career coach using Handshake.
Think of job searching as a funnel, at the top of the funnel is wide — think broad about what you're interested in doing for this role. Then as you search and make deeper connections, that funnel becomes smaller and you're able to identify job interests.
Do a Self Assessment
In order to determine what options and opportunities you have for your next step, it's important to do a self evaluation and reflection. Start by asking yourself the following questions.
- Where do I want to be geographically? Do I want to live somewhere more urban, rural, suburban, metropolitan? Do you want to move to a different state or stay local? How important is it for me to be near a community?
- What are my values? What is important for you in a next step — is it location? Salary? Creativity? Work Environment? This will be different for everyone, but this is an important piece to think through to make sure you'll find fulfillment in your next step.
- What am I good at? What makes me competitive? Sometimes it is hard for us to answer this question because we have never thought about it. Consider thinking about this: if I ran into a supervisor, friend, or family member — how might they describe you? What would they say you are good at?
- What areas am I lacking skills or experience? There may be jobs out there you might not be qualified for because of a number of reasons: years of experience, technical skills, type of experience, etc. Be mindful of these as you go through a job search and think about stepping stone opportunities that will allow you to develop those skills so you can be competitive down the road.
- Ask yourself: is this a hobby or a profession? For some students, this line can be fuzzy and the answer might not be clear until you get into the workforce. This is why it is so valuable to find volunteer, internship, and shadowing opportunities to hear from people in the field about what day-to-day work is life.
If you find yourself having a hard time answering these questions, consider making an appointment with Career Exploration or your career coach to talk through what finding a good fit looks like for you.
Determine Your Options and Know Where to Look
Know Your Options:
We hear students ask all the time, "What can I do with a major in XXX?" The truth is, it's less about what you studied than it is what you learned, what skills you have, and what variety of work experiences you have. Think about what skills you have and how they might translate to a variety of environments.
For example, if you are an English major, think broadly about what skills you have developed and what courses you have taken. Perhaps you have taken a number of professional writing classes; this opens the door to a number of different jobs, including grant writing, technical writing, copy-editing, careers in nonprofit and public administration, project management, account management, client relations, sales, and more.
Employers think about what skills and competencies you've developed. Consider thinking about your options in terms of the NACE competencies as well.
Knowing what job titles to look for can be difficult; now there are multiple different names for the same types of jobs. Knowing where to look can serve as a great starting place to understand industry trends and opportunities.
Know Where to Look:
- Handshake - See jobs and internships posted through Appalachian State's career services portal.
- Buzzfile - View categories of employers broken down by major category as well as veteran preference.
- O*NET Online - Discover comprehensive industry knowledge, including day-to-day tasks, salary and hiring ranges, graduate programs, professional affiliations, and a job board.
- LinkedIn Jobs - LinkedIn jobs allows you to see what connections and alumni work at various employers as well as join interest and industry groups. Create search alerts and make your profile open to recruiters to increase your employability!
Be the Best Candidate for that Job
So, now you've found a few positions you want to apply for! Congratulations! This is where the process gets really fun. From here on out, it's all about sharing your story and how you could be a good fit for that organization. Here you want to think about the story you want to tell those employers, and then how you translate that to all of the important pieces of being the best candidate. This involves:
- Doing research on that organization: There are a lot of different methods to finding out information about a company or organization. Here are a few tips:
- Follow them on social media platforms: This gives a glimpse into recent happenings at the company or organization, company culture, and can provide great preparation for the interview.
- Check their LinkedIn page: This will tell you demographics of employees, articles that were posted by or about the company, and a lot of general information that is helpful in navigating the job search process.
- Check their website: Browse around and look at various pages, including: mission/vision statement, financial records (if public), staff information, board of directors, employee benefits, if there are vacant positions, etc.
- Preparing all your materials: Make it a habit to have your resume reviewed every semester! Your application materials get you the interview, so it's important to put your best foot forward! Find out resume and cover letter tips here.
- Interview Preparation: The best thing you can do RIGHT NOW to be the best candidate for a job is to practice interviewing. This is a process that takes time to do well. Practice using Big Interview or make an appointment with your career coach.
- See if there are any alumni or other connections: Utilize LinkedIn to see if any alumni or connections are involved with that company or organization. Reach out to them to gather advice and input about the company or industry.
Use and Grow Your Network
Search LinkedIn for alumni who have graduated in the past 5-10 years in your degree program or the industry you are targeting. Connect with them.
- Where did they work right after college? Review that company's page and check out their job postings.
- Where are they working now? Review that company as well.
- Ask them for advice on how they started at the organization.
Talk to family and friends, extend your network, and let people know you are looking.
- Do they know anyone who is working in the industry you are interested in?
- Are they aware of any jobs at their organizations?
- Check with family doctors, dentists, church members, high school teachers, and volunteer groups.
- Next time you're at a family event and someone says, "How is your semester going?" Consider this alternative: "It is going well! I am starting to think about applying for jobs after graduation and am specifically interested in (insert industry)." You will find that, if people have a connection, they will share it with you!
Join organizations on LinkedIn you are affiliated with.
- Sorority or Fraternity
- National Associations (see about membership and access to job boards)
- Regional Associations (see about membership and access again)
- Alumni Groups
- Volunteer organizations you are affiliated with