Define Your Goals
The most effective job search has a definitive goal in mind. Once you’ve chosen a field or industry, you can set off in the right direction. If you are an undecided major or need help finding the right field or industry, contact the First Year Advising Center
for customized services to help find the right fit. Still deciding alumni should contact the Career Counseling Center
in OU’s School of Education and Human Services.
Do the Research
Target specific companies and learn all you can about their mission, business, goals, and potential for growth. View their job openings and learn about the type of skills and background they look for in a new hire.
Get in Contact
Set up a professional e-mail address and phone number that potential employers can use to contact you. Your voicemail should contain a professional greeting and your e-mail should include your first and last name if possible.
Expand Your Search
Talk about your career interests to friends, family and neighbors. You never know who may have a great idea or be on the inside track for a potential new position.
Create a spreadsheet or use on-line tools to track the progress you’ve made, including networking events or career fairs to attend, companies to target, jobs you want to apply for and companies you have interviewed with. Include dates, individuals you met with, and next steps to follow up.
Have Your Resume Reviewed
Your resume should be polished, active, and professionally formatted. Check out our enhanced resume builder on OUCareerLink
or contact us
for resume advice. Keep several versions of your resume and cover letter ready to tailor for each job and company you apply for. Make sure your references are relevant and have given you permission to include them. Get business cards made up with your contact information, degree(s), areas of expertise, and skill set.
Anything that you can find on the Internet, your potential employer can also find. Make sure that your personal social media accounts are set to private and create accounts at professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. Make it easy for employers to find out about your background and professional interests and achievements online.
Google Everyone Else, Too
Use major job search agents such as Monster
, and HotJobs
to get started, but check with smaller job sites as well. You can set up a variety of searches based on your industry, geographic location and position requirements. Get creative with your search and make use of your transferable skills. For example, if you have experience with marketing in the automotive industry, look for potential positions in the healthcare industry.
Get Out of the House
Attend networking workshops and events. Building professional connections should be a significant part of your job search. You can polish your skills at workshops and learn about new recommendations for interviewing. You can also join a professional organization related to your field or major. This is a great way to get to know people in your field and keep up to date on trends and innovations in your industry.
Be persistent, but polite – once you have submitted your resume and cover letter, call the employer to verify they’ve received it and to check on the status of the position. Send a thank you e-mail or note after each interview – and even after a rejection – to leave a positive impression and keep the door open for future communication. You may have been a very strong candidate and could be considered in the future for another position.
This might be the hardest part, but it is important to realize that most new grads do not find the perfect job overnight. Job hunting takes time and patience. Do not quit your current job until you have a new job, and be sure to give proper notice when you do leave.
There is some truth to the old saying that it is all about “who you know.”
The “hidden job market” does exist, and professional networking is your key to get in the door. Career experts estimate that the vast majority of job openings are never advertised or publicly announced, but are filled through word-of-mouth and networking. Internal transfers, promotions and employee referrals are some of the best ways to get noticed.
Study after study shows that networking is the most effective way to get a job. That means that the job seekers who are well-connected start out with an advantage. But don’t despair – there are numerous ways to build the broad list of contacts that will open up new opportunities.
Networking means developing your social and business contacts into referrals during your job search. People in your network may be able to provide job leads or referrals, offer advice about a particular company or industry, and introduce you to key people that will expand your network.
Keep business cards and resumes handy – you never know when you will meet the right person that may catapult you into your dream job.
Who is Networking?
Networking doesn't mean asking everyone you run into for a job. It means establishing relationships so that you can enlist support and comfortably ask for ideas, advice, and referrals down the line.
The key element in networking is sharing. Successful networking doesn't mean milking your contacts for all they're worth; it means participating in a give-and-take. Networking is at its most effective when both the networker and the contact benefit from the relationship. Even if your contact does not benefit immediately from knowing you, he or she should gain something from the relationship.
The best place to start developing your network is with people you already know and the people they already know. Talk to friends, colleagues, professors and family. Join a professional organization and volunteer your time.
Seek the influence of people you know at different stages of your career.
For college students and new grads:
For established job-seekers:
- Recent grads and alumni
- Parents and your friends’ and classmates’ parents
- Professors, coaches, academic advisers, and college administrators
- Fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, and Greek organization alumni
- Guest speakers in your classes and internship supervisors
- Members of professional organizations
- Your past and present co-workers and supervisors
- Business associates such as customers, clients, vendors, and suppliers
- New friends and old friends
- Members of your religious community or volunteer organization
- Your mentor
How It's Done Ask for help, not a job.
Networking is not about asking everyone you know for a job. Ask your networking contacts for information that will help you in your search. Your goal is to build a relationship and establish rapport so that if an opportunity does come up, your contact will want to refer you.
When you get together with a contact, have an agenda and keep the meeting on track. Nothing scares people more than the prospect of someone taking up a lot of their time. Send a thank you note to show you appreciate their help.
Find your Yoda.
A mentor – that one person who can guide you, help you, take you under his or her wing and nurture your career quest can be the most valuable kind of network contact.
Listen first, ask questions later.
You are looking to learn from another person’s experience, so make sure he or she has the opportunity to speak. Once you have heard some of their advice, ask open-ended questions to keep your exchange balanced and get key information.
Ask for introductions.
- How long have you been in this field?
- What do you like/ dislike about your job and company?
- What type of training do you need for positions such as yours?
- What is the culture of this company and what are its guiding principles?
One of the main goals of networking is to tap into the network of the people you know. Each person you meet knows others who may be helpful. Ask to meet potential business contacts to increase your network and your chances of finding the right connection. Ask your contacts if they can recommend a professional organization to join or who else you should be talking to.
Keep in touch.
If you want to establish rapport with another person, keep the relationship going. Share your search progress with your contacts and forward them interesting articles about trends in your industry. Even after you have found a job, try to reconnect two or three times a year with members of your network.
Share the love.
Building a network is about creating a genuine, caring relationship. Get to know your contacts on a personal level and see if you can help them in some way. Share your knowledge and interests, from business tips to recommendations for great Thai food.
Your mother was right: Miss Manners does know best. When looking for a new job, how you present yourself is very important. Social norms or appropriate behaviors, known as “etiquette” should guide your conduct during social and business interactions.
Remember to mind your manners and follow the tips below for proper etiquette.
On the Phone
You will likely speak with a number of recruiters, hiring managers and representatives during the job hunt, and may even undergo a phone interview. Be your most impressive self by:
Speaking in a loud, articulate, and clear voice.
- Focus all your attention on the conversation. For example, avoid chewing gum, typing, or playing the TV or radio.
- Leave a polite message if the representative is not available.
- Record a professional and polite voicemail on your own phone, and always return calls.
Remember all the good manners you’ve learned. When meeting with a potential employer in person be sure to:
- Use good posture and try not to fidget .
- Be polite; say “please” and “thank you.”
- Dress appropriately.
- Always be on time, or even a little early.
You may be invited to meet or socialize over a meal. Dining etiquette is largely about having good manners and common courtesy. Some advice to help you along:
- Always be on time for dinner.
- Place your napkin in your lap.
- Eat slowly and avoid loud crunching or slurping.
- Ask for an item to be passed, rather than reach across the table.
- Pass the food counterclockwise or to the right.
- Never pick your teeth or lick your fingers.
- Make positive comments and pleasant conversation -- avoid any negative criticism of the meal
- Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.
- Be sure to thank your host for a charming dinner.
The world is a different place than it was ten or twenty years ago. With the countless means of communication the Internet allows us, people share more than ever before, and often in a more casual way. When job hunting, it is important to behave professionally online, and to remember that a potential employer should not be treated the same as a Facebook friend.
Follow the rules of “Netiquette” for advice on how to behave in cyberspace.
- Behave online as you would in real life – treat people with respect and politeness.
- Know what is acceptable on the website or social media platform that you use.
- Make yourself look good online. Be knowledgeable and use professional language.
- Avoid getting into opinion-based arguments on message boards and websites.
- Respect other people's privacy, and guard your own privacy. Make sure your personal social media accounts are set to private.
- Make sure you know what is shared online about you, including information, photos and videos on your friends’ pages.
- Avoiding complaining or posting negatively about your work environment or job search.
While people are connecting in various ways, from text messaging to video chats, e-mail is still the preferred professional method of business communication. Follow these important tips for e-mail netiquette :
- Write an accurate and to-the-point subject line.
- Begin your message as you would a formal letter. For example, Dear Mr. Jones, or Dear Ms. Smith.
- Use the same rules as a business letter, including proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
- Compose clear and concise paragraphs.
- Be friendly and professional, but avoid joking around.
- Avoid attaching large files unless requested.