Anna’s Pondering- the-Question- of- the-Week Series: be strategic about your job search.

Greetings all! I am resuming my blog series that I started in spring 2014. I will try to blog at least every other week to comment on the most typical, interesting, or challenging question that I have heard from CAS students during appointments. Of course, I won’t give out any names or specifics.

The topic of this blog is particularly relevant for seniors. Since the beginning of the fall semester, I have met with several seniors graduating in May 2015 who are anxious to start looking for a job. However, they are not sure whether it’s too early, and their efforts will be a waste of time since most employers don’t hire for May 2015 in September 2014. Won’t it be better to live in the moment, enjoy the last college year, and focus on the job search closer to graduation? In my view, if you want to start a job right after or close to your graduation, you do need to start your job search early, as early as NOW, but do it in a smart way.  Strategize, plan, and act! Have a thoughtful strategy, make a realistic plan of action with deadlines, and try to stick to the plan.  If you follow this approach, you will be able to use your time much more effectively, enjoy your last college year, and minimize your stress level in the months of April and May.

Let’s start with the major components of a thoughtful job search strategy. (I strongly recommend developing it as soon as possible, and your career advisors will be more than happy to help you with that!) First, you need to start by formulating a goal for your job search strategy. Each student will have his/her own unique goals depending on where they are now, at this moment of their life. Some have already discovered their career direction; others would like to continue exploring their interests. Don’t take the job of formulating your post-graduation goals lightly. To be effective, your goals should be specific, and that may require a good deal of research and reflection on what you want to do, where you want to be in the short and medium terms, what you can afford, etc. You may want to use self-assessment tools, such as Strong Interest Inventory, Myers-Brigg Type Indicator, and work-related value exercises. Also, I would recommend developing a budget with the expenses you will have to pay each month, estimated rent, utilities, food, etc.  Once you have set up goals, think about the ways to achieve them. These ways should include the following:

  • Knowing about the most effective job search engines
  • Researching and compiling a list of organizations where you would like to work at and figuring out ways to learn more about them (e.g. hiring trends and ways, possible contacts, any AU alums there?)
  • Seeking opportunities to expand your professional network on campus and off-campus
  • Identifying skills that you may be missing and ways to acquire them
  • Finding ways to gain more experience or diversify your experience
  • Updating your resume and reviewing cover letter tips and samples
  • Preparing elevator speeches, questions for informational interviews

The important part of your job search strategy should also be to become savvy about using tools and resources that will help you in the implementation of this strategy. Do you know how to use all the possibilities of AU Career Web? Do you know how to use Linked-in in your networking and job search? Are you familiar with school-specific resources posted on Career Center website and how to utilize them? Are you planning to talk to your faculty about opportunities in your field of interest? Have you identified the people with whom you would like to talk to? Do you know what questions to ask? Do you know about extracurricular learning opportunities on campus to develop new skills, e.g. CTRL workshops? Do you always open Career Center e-mails and newsletters, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and check our event calendar regularly so you won’t miss any important networking opportunities, recruitment and information sessions, workshops, etc? As you can see, it’s a long list of things that YOU need to do to prepare yourself for a successful job search. START NOW!