Job-Hunt Basics

You’ve chosen your industry, and you have a good idea of what type of position you want. Now you need to find a job. Job-hunting can be a daunting process. You can find jobs almost anywhere, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some tips for your first job.

Job Hunt

Researching

You probably already know which industry interests you for a career, but before you begin searching, you need to research specific jobs within that field. If you just search for an industry, you might find plenty of jobs you could stand or that you might be qualified for, but it’s better to start in a job that will make you happy and be the right step for your career.

Any job you take should ideally advance your career in the direction you plan, so I recommend beginning by researching the field of your dream job and working backwards. Decide what your dream job would be, and try to learn how people who hold that job were able to get there. Focus on all the steps they made in reaching that position, and how they got to each step. Look at what qualifications they had and how they timed each move in their career. After researching ideal paths for your field, you can figure out which jobs would be a good starting point in your industry.

Next, you need to look for those jobs and see what’s available. Hopefully you will meet the required qualifications for that position. You may be tempted to start with job postings, but once you find an entry-level job that sounds like something you would enjoy, the best strategy is to research companies that employ those workers. This allows you to focus on the job you have in mind, while not wasting time on job postings.

It doesn’t hurt to see if they have any jobs currently available by checking their websites, but also look for professionals in your field that might be able to help. If contact information is available, don’t be afraid to reach out to people doing the job you want to have and see if they would be willing to conduct an informational interview. Informational interviews are one-on-one meetings with professionals in your field held for you to learn about jobs and network. Many professionals will be open to discussion, but understand that many will also be very busy, so be direct. Ask them questions about the position to see if you’ll really like it. You should also ask about how they got into the job, what their career outlook is, and if they have advice for someone wanting to start in that industry. Have your resume ready before you reach out to professionals in your field, because they may also have leads on jobs, and if you make a good impression, may be willing to give you a reference.

Preparing

Once you have settled on a job you want and learned about where these professionals work, you need to prepare your application documents. Review your resume and make sure it highlights important skills and experience in your industry. Each resume you submit should be tailored to each company to which you apply. Line up references before you apply, and prepare your reference sheet.

Next, begin talking to people in your network and let them know that you are interested in a new job and what your industry is. While you are applying, it doesn’t hurt to have other people looking for jobs for you, too. Take the opportunity while you are focusing on other people to check your voicemail, email, and social media accounts and make sure that they are all professional.

Before you hear back on jobs, you need to decide on your limits. You will need to know if you are open to relocation, and if so, where. If you are, it may be helpful to look for jobs in multiple cities to give yourself a wider range of companies. Know what you expect for pay and research company salaries before you apply. Do you need benefits, or are you able to stay on your parent’s insurance for a few more years? Understand what you need from a job so that you don’t waste time applying for positions that don’t meet your requirements.

Strategizing

Once you begin applying, stay organized and stick to a strategy. Job boards or in the classified sections of the newspaper are helpful, but while you might find a job, you are less likely to find the one you want because you are limiting your search. The ideal starting point is the list of companies you made that employ people in your field and that might have openings. You may read about openings on their website or on job posting sites, but keep in mind that some companies do not post job openings, and expect the best candidates to approach them. Don’t cross a company off your list just because the website doesn’t say anything about available positions. If the company says there are no positions available, then you can focus your efforts somewhere else.

Start by applying to the company you think is the best fit for you. If this company does not have any jobs posted, start with a letter of introduction or query via email, and try to reach out by phone. Keep moving down the list of companies you want to work for, and hopefully you’ll find something. While you’re waiting to hear back from your top companies, you can start looking at openings on job sites or in the newspaper.

Don’t forget to attend career fairs and networking events, since you might learn about other companies in your industry you didn’t know about. While you are looking for more companies, it can also be helpful to visit your local Chamber of Commerce website and browse businesses in your field.

Waiting

It can take a while to hear back on jobs, so try stay productive while you wait. Keep networking and attending events, and try to reach out to resources you may have forgotten. Keep checking job postings and submitting new applications.

You may get several rejections, and there may be companies that never give a response. Try to stay positive, and don’t take it personally. Try to follow up on applications if you haven’t heard anything in a while.

If you seem to be getting only rejections, you may have overlooked qualifications for the position you want. It may also be beneficial to research your field and see if there are any qualifications that may help you get a job, like specific certifications. If there are, see if any classes are offered, or if there are any exams you can take to improve your odds.

Tips

  • Stay organized. Keep a list or a spreadsheet of the jobs you apply for including the company, the position, the date you applied, and if you have received a response. If you send out many applications, it can be difficult to remember which jobs you actually filled out applications for, so keep a record.
  • Do stay in contact with people in your network during your job hunt. You never know who might have a tip.
  • Do be flexible. You want your dream job, but maybe you aren’t quite qualified yet, so consider positions that might give you a step towards your dream.
  • Do keep track of contacts you make in the application process. They may be helpful additions to your network.
  • Stay positive. It can be easy to get discouraged.
  • If you aren’t getting results, reassess your strategy and reach out to someone in your field who might be able to give you some advice. Former professors and career center workers at your university can give you great insight, so don’t forget to talk to them.

Helpful Resources

  • Your university website may have job postings, and some states and cities have sites as well, so don’t forget to check them. Attend local networking events, such as job fairs and professional gatherings, which can often be found through your university or your city’s website. Usually local chambers of commerce have information for job seekers, including details on events, so don’t forget to check their website, too.
  • The federal government offers free job resources, like mynextmove.org, which is a site about planning careers, and usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Education-Training/Finding-Jobs.shtml, which gives helpful tips on finding jobs, as well as links to resources. You can also find helpful information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site, which can help you find information on the outlook for specific fields.
  • Common job board sites can include simplyhired.com, monster.com, and indeed.com, but there are many more. Many people also use sites like Craigslist for job hunting. This can be a great resource, but be careful on sites that offer free posting, since there may be scams. Don’t forget to check job boards that target specific industries, such as journalismjobs.com and higheredjobs.com. A quick web search can give you tons of resources for professionals in your field.
Peggy Carouthers

Author: Peggy Carouthers

In a previous life Peggy worked as a human resources and hiring manager for a major national retail chain. Her expertise is in job hunting, hiring, and HR. These days Peggy works as a writer, crafting content for a range of publications.
Peggy Carouthers