Job Search

Search Strategies

The most effective strategies for securing jobs and other opportunities involve preparation, research, and connections.

Target Your Search

It’s awfully hard to search for any job anywhere. Even though you are open to many options and/or just need a job, research and prioritize at least a handful of options that appeal to you most. You can always expand a search, but it’s very hard to look for the “needle in a haystack.” Narrow your focus by geographic region and/or occupation.

Prepare for the Search

You’ve got a goal in mind, but there are still several tasks to complete before you’re ready to seek positions:

  • Develop a “60-second commercial” for short encounters with potential employers as well as a longer “liberal arts story.”
  • Develop a resume targeted at the general industries/roles that interest you and be ready to tailor it to each individual opportunity.
  • Identify at least three individuals to serve as references (be sure to ASK them if they are willing to serve as positive references before you include them on your reference list)
  • Develop interview skills (participate in a practice interview) and obtain an interview suit.
  • Create a positive image (e.g. LinkedIn, PirateConnect, professional email address and voicemail message) and beware of unprofessional web presence (e.g. on blogs, Facebook, etc.). No news is not necessarily good news. You want to avoid negative web content, but you also need to have positive web content to “prove” yourself.
  • Attend career events to meet contacts and build skills.

Leverage Your Connections

Spend most of your job search time on talking with people you know and can meet – referral is an employer’s preferred method of hire and many positions are never advertised. Networking is the job search strategy with the biggest payoff. Use PirateConnect, LinkedIn, the SU Alumni Directory, professional organizations, and structured networking events such as SU’s Curious Conversations and Career Connections BBQ events. 

Research and Apply Directly to Employers

The Internet is a great research tool, but don’t spend all your time on third-party job boards, which are much less effective. Use your Google skills to search for strings like “Austin television stations” to identify employers who do the kind of work that interests you in the geographic location of your choice. Then go directly to employers’ own sites, where they’re most likely to advertise jobs if they do so at all. Look for “About Us,”  “Jobs,” “Careers,” “Employment,” etc. 

Third-Party Sites is the world’s most comprehensive third-party job search site. It’s a free, meta-search site that crawls other third-party sites as well as employers’ own sites to compile job listings in response to your search criteria. HireSU via Symplicity is Southwestern’s password-protected job board for SU students and alumni to search for part-time (on- and off-campus), full-time and internship positions. Not every job out there will be posted here, but anything we get notice of will. Targeted sites like professional association job boards (e.g. American Marketing Association, etc.) are better than generic boards. You may have to pay to join, but it could be a worthwhile investment. 

Attend career fairs

Job fairs are a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with an employer’s representative. Getting face time can set you apart from the competition. To prepare for a career fair:
  • Visit the fair’s website to see employers who will attend.
  • Research employers that interest you by visiting their websites.
  • Create targeted resumes for each position that interests you.
  • Wear professional attire and carry only a briefcase or portfolio with your resumes.

Follow Up

Follow up on every job lead immediately. Contact employers via phone within two weeks of applying to check on your status in their selection process. And send thank-you letters within 24 hours to each person who interviews you or serves as a networking contact. Finally, once you have applied for a position, be prepared that any phone call you get could be a screening interview. Know what steps you will take toward a successful interview.