Job Search Process
Steps to Take When Trying to Find a Job
Conducting an effective job search requires careful planning, follow-through, perseverance, and a positive attitude. Trying to find a job without a plan can lead to frustration and disappointment. "Failing to Plan = Planning to Fail."
For an effective job search, develop an organized system and a schedule to follow, and map out the steps you will take. Make a list of the job search tasks you will perform each day and follow through. You should consider the job search process a job itself! Following are steps for guiding you through the process and assisting you with developing strategies to reach your goal.
- Access online resources available on the Career Services website: SIGI 3, OOH, O*NET, What Can I Do With This Major?, as well as our Job Boards links page. Also, read career related materials available in Southeastern Louisiana University Sims Memorial Library. Click on How Do I Research Companies? for more company research resources.
- Make an appointment with a career counselor to discuss your career goals, and take a career assessment such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or COPS Interest Inventory to clarify your work interests and personality strengths as relate to careers you're considering
After you formulate your career goals, it is essential that you learn as much as possible about the position(s) you plan to target in your search to assist you in tailoring your resume and cover letter to the position, and to prepare for the interview as well. You should also research the company/organization and the field/industry to which you're applying. Utilize the Career Services web site resources described above.
Part of the job search process involves determining your salary requirements and earning
potential. Developing a personal budget for the standard of living you can reasonably
maintain, as well as researching salaries for the positions you're considering, will
ensure realistic salary expectations. This knowledge will be useful for the interview and job offer processes as well.
Every position has a general salary range, based on what professionals in that position
are currently earning. However, many factors affect salaries, such as: type of position/field/industry,
state of the economy (national, regional, and local), and geographic location.
It is also important to understand that employers count benefits as part of the compensation package. These benefits may include medical insurance, 401(k) plans and stock options. Other perks can include vacation time, company car or vehicle allowance, flexible work schedules and tuition reimbursement.
Use the following resources to begin your salary research:
- Speak to individuals in the profession: Ask what salary someone in an entry-level position should expect.
- Career Service' online resources such as SIGI 3, OOH, and O*NET contain salary information, including starting salaries, average salaries, and top earning possibilities for various careers. O*NET also allows you to compare Louisiana salaries to national averages.
- Job Web - Provides information on salary ranges and additional links.
- Monster.com Salary Center allows you to create a basic salary report based on position and geographic location.
- Job Star - Includes information on salaries and salary negotiation.
- Salary.com - Calculates salary, bonuses and benefits based on job title and location.
- The Salary Calculator compares the cost of living for 100's of US cities.
Also, be realistic about your salary expectations. Do not expect to graduate and find your first job making $50,000 per year in Hammond, Louisiana!
Consider your willingness to relocate. Remember, the more open you are to relocation, the more likely you are to find the job you are seeking, and the more you can increase your opportunities for career advancement. If you are open to relocation, take some time to research jobs by geographic location. Some resources to assist you include:
- Monstermoving.com - Provides information on domestic and international relocation, storage, finding a mover, etc.
- FindYourSpot.com - Discover your ideal location through a short quiz. Includes a report on each recommended city and information on jobs and housing.
- EscapeArtist.com - Information on international jobs, living and real estate.
- eRecruiting - Career Services' online job search system allows you to search for jobs by state.
A well-written and visually appealing resume and cover letter are absolutely necessary to land you that job interview. They are critical to the job search and must be error-free and capable of marketing the knowledge and skills you have to offer to an employer. Begin building your resume and cover letter by accessing the Resume Assistance and Cover Letter Assistance sections of the Career Services web site. After you have developed your resume to the best of your abilities, you may schedule an appointment with one of our career counseling staff for a resume review and suggestions for improvement.
Getting a telephone call from an employer inviting you for a job interview is a great feeling – BUT! Don't let your excitement make you feel overly confident. Although most of us know the importance of composing a resume and cover letter, many fail to recognize the need for preparing for job interview. The resume may get you in the door, but the interview will be the determining hiring factor. Access the Career Services Interviewing Assistance section of our web site to assist you in honing those interview skills. You may also schedule an appointment with one of our career counseling staff to participate in a mock interview.
Before you apply for a job with a particular company or organization, you should learn as much about that employer as you can. Researching the employer will give you the information you need to decide if this is an employer for whom you would like to work. It will also prepare you to discuss what you learn about the employer in the interview – and rest assured that the employer expects that you have researched their organization! Access How Do I Research Companies? for employer research resources, and the type of information you need to know!
A successful job search requires not only time and energy but also organization. It is important to develop a system to keep organized and focused. The following tips will assist you in establishing a system:
- Schedule a block of time each day to devote to your job search and identify what you want to accomplish that day. (Adjust the spacing so that it's lined up on left, here and for bullets below)
- Create a "To Do" list and check your progress at the end of each day.
- Keep accurate records of your employer contact information, method of contact, and follow-up activities - utilize Career Services' Job Search Contacts & Follow Up Record (link this) to assist you with organizing this info.
- Make copies of all correspondence sent to employers and maintain a file for each employer to organize your search. Include in this file:
1. Copy of resume sent (you may have more than one version of your resume!)
(single space these!)
2. Copy of cover letter sent (it should be tailored to the particular employer and
3. Copy of job posting or advertisement and/or detailed job description if available
4. Copy of Career Services' Employer Quick Info Guide (make link)
5. Copies of info you gathered in conducting research on position and employer
Many Human Resource Managers are busy and may not select and notify applicants immediately regarding their desire to schedule an interview. For each resume that you send, follow up! Call or email within two to three weeks of submitting your resume. Following up will set you apart from other candidates and reaffirm your interest in the position. When you follow up, demonstrate professionalism. State the position for which you're applying and the date your resume was sent, reiterate your interest in the position, and request the status of your application. Give employers a few days to respond before contacting them again. While persistence is essential, you do not want to turn employers off by aggravating them.
The job market can be broken down into two major segments: the advertised job market and the hidden job market. The advertised market includes openings listed in newspapers, Internet job boards, employer websites, trade publications or other publications. While advertised job openings are the most obvious, it is estimated that approximately 80% of available jobs are not publicly advertised. These openings comprise the hidden job market and are filled by candidates found through recommendations and referrals – in other words, through networking.
Identifying opportunities in the hidden job market requires time and persistence but can offer the most success. The strategies listed below will help make your search easier.
Networking is the key to tapping the hidden job market. Develop a list of people you know, inform them that you are conducting a job search, and ask for tips, leads and suggestions. Your networking contact list can include family members, neighbors, friends, professors, advisors of your student organizations, alumni, and other people who may be able to provide you with job leads or direct you to others they know who can assist you. Also, attend college-sponsored events related to your field of interest, identify a professional in your field of interest and conduct an Informational Interview (see below), or join a professional organization and attend conferences to develop contacts. When making contact by mail, email or telephone, describe the type of job you are seeking and ask if the contact can provide you with information - or if they can refer you to others who can. Follow through on leads and suggestions, and check back with the contact occasionally. Always give them a copy of your resume, and express your appreciation for their assistance.
While the primary purpose of an Informational Interview is to gather information about a career and/or field, and job search advice, from a professional with firsthand knowledge, it will also assist you in developing your network of contacts. When on an Informational Interview you should not ask for a job. Make it clear that you have no job expectations and are seeking information only, from them or others they may know in the field. In addition to developing your network, the professional may remember you when a position becomes available – either with their company or another one. Send a thank-you note or letter after the Informational Interview, typed on quality paper or neatly handwritten on a conservatively-designed note card, and include your address and phone number.
Direct Employer Contact
The focus of direct employer contact is to mail or email cover letters and resumes to hiring decision-makers. First, identify companies/organizations in your field of interest and the names of department managers - information available on the organization's website, or if not, call for a contact name and address. Then, send your cover letter and resume directly to this contact - in your cover letter, state in the first paragraph, "I am contacting you regarding possible employment opportunities with (name of company or organization)." See the Cover Letters and References section of the Career Services website for assistance in composing a cover letter. An alternative to emailing or mailing is dropping off your resume in person. However, arrive professionally dressed (or at the very least, in "business casual" dress), and be prepared to speak with the hiring manager should they be available. This approach can be particularly effective with small businesses. Follow up with each employer to confirm receipt of your resume, find out the status of your application, and to reiterate your interest in working for them.
Following are resources to identify opportunities in the advertised market. When you find a job that matches your qualifications, carefully follow the application instructions on the advertisement. This may include sending (via mail, email, or fax) a copy of your resume and cover letter, letters of reference, a list of references, transcripts, applying in person, etc. NOTE: It is always a good idea to send a cover letter when targeting a particular company or organization – even if the job ad does not ask for a cover letter!
eRecruiting – Career Services' online job search assistance service. Career Services posts Job Vacancy Postings in our eRecruiting system. We also offer a Resume Referral service and On-Campus Interviews via eRecruiting.
Internet Job Boards
Use the Internet as a tool for your job search. Career Services has an online Job Boards page that contains links to dozens of job search websites.
Most employers list openings directly on their own company/organization websites.
Career fairs offer the opportunity to learn about current or future job openings, and – extremely important! – the opportunity to make a positive, face-to-face impression on an employer. Career fairs are typically held on university campuses, in large conference centers, hotels, or at the employer site. Southeastern's Office of Career Services hosts an annual Career Fair every Fall semester with over 100 employers in attendance. An alternative to the "live" career fair is the "virtual" career fair where job seekers search for jobs and connect with employers online.
Search the "Employment" or "Help-Wanted" section of the classifieds listed online or in the actual published newspaper. Always mention that you learned of the position in the publication, in your cover letter's intro paragraph.
Professional Publications & Websites
Some employers advertise openings in professional/trade publications, or professional/trade organization websites.
Chambers of Commerce
Area chambers of commerce may list job openings available with member businesses. To find your local chapter search the directory of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.