Student Professional Development Center

Before You Start Your Job Search

Determine your destination

First, you need to know where you want to go -- your career objective. If you are not sure what kind of position you want, contact Career Services. Your job search will be much more effective if you have a goal.

Develop your plan 

The next step is to develop a good job search plan based on your career objective.  Include the job search strategies listed here that will work best for you based on your career goals.  Make sure the plan has specific tasks with deadlines for completion.  Networking is a critical part of any job search, so be sure it is a major part of your plan.  If you need help, schedule an appointment with a career advisor.

Implement your plan

Schedule time each week to complete the specific tasks you have pinpointed in your plan.  Keep a record of every job search activity you perform to track your results and know what you need to do next.  It is also important to periodically review and revise your plan.

Get organized

Sending a prospective employer a cover letter and resume you wrote for another position hurts your chances of being interviewed and makes you look unprofessional.  Organize your documents to avoid careless mistakes.  Maintain a spreadsheet of job descriptions, salaries, required documents, deadlines and what steps you have taken in the application process to keep you on track in your job search.

The Open and Hidden Job Markets 

There are two dimensions of the job market--the open job market and the hidden job market.

The open job market consists of those jobs that are advertised and open to the public.

The hidden job market consists of openings not yet advertised: jobs resulting from recent retirements, terminations, company expansions and anticipated future openings, along with jobs which do not currently exist, but are created for individual job seekers.

Most jobs are found in the hidden job market; only 15 to 20 percent of positions are advertised.  Many positions never make it as far as Want Ads or employment agencies; they are filled by people using direct contact methods. Employers use formal methods only when jobs are not filled through informal means.

In order to tap the hidden job market, a job seeker should spend most of his/her search time using informal methods.  Most jobs are found through personal contacts or direct contacts with employers.  In most cases, you want to focus more time and energy on hidden job market strategies.  Network to find hidden job opportunities by identifying individuals who can assist you in your job search and anyone who can be a potential networking contact. Internships and co-ops are excellent networking opportunities and can lead to permanent positions.