Suite News: Graduating Soon? Learn How to Navigate the Job Search Process


Jessica Johnson

Hi, I’m Jessica Johnson, Career Advisor of Graduate Students and Special Populations in the Career & Internship Services Center (CISC) at USG. As a career services professional for the past six years, I’ve seen and heard students’ mix emotions when it comes to the job search — excitement, frustration, procrastination, and more. As many of you approach graduation (congratulations!) and the job search process, I have some tips to share that I hope will help you navigate this process:

  1. Before you begin the search, take a step back and reflect. Your interests have influenced many choices in your life, including your major and hobbies. Begin assessing your interest areas. Do you wish to analyze and synthesize data? Interact with children? Solve problems? Work with chemicals? Interests hold your attention, motivate you to get out of bed every morning, and lead to personal and professional success.
  2. Understand your values. Values are our guiding principles and informs our decisions. Examples of values include: work/life balance, professional development, upward mobility, working for a prestigious company, financial gain, variety, ability to be creative, and much more. It is important to rank your values from most to least important and identify the top motivators that must match the organization and position.
  3. Develop a strategy and make use of your resources. Now, that you’ve spent time reflecting, let’s discuss the actual job search. Since there are many moving parts (ex. crafting your resume and cover letter, applying to a position, networking, and interviewing), I encourage you to begin early. Here are some considerations and additional resources to help you in your search:
  • Career Connector – As a student at USG, you have access to our internal job and internship database. Employers post opportunities on the platform and are looking to hire YOU! Career Connector is updated weekly with new opportunities, so I encourage you to check often.
  • Your personal network– Identify who is in your circle that you can contact for advice, insight on their career path, or potential job leads.  Feel like you don’t have a network? Believe me, you do! Start with your classmates, professors, family members and friends. Did you intern while in college? Your former internship coworkers and supervisors are part of your professional network too. There are also many networking events in the area that you can attend — this is the perfect opportunity to go and meet professionals in your industry.
  • Develop a target list of organizations– The job search can be overwhelming when applying to every position you find. Having a strategic approach is essential in order to save time and energy. Create a target list of 20-30 organizations you are interested in and review open positions on their website. If you don’t see any opportunities, tap into your alumni network to find individuals who may work for the organization. Once you find an alumnus, request an informational interview (a formal conversation to learn about the professional’s career path and experience working at the company).. Developing a target list allows you to spend time tailoring your resume and cover letter to the position and organization, as well as find companies that match your values.
  • Utilize LinkedIn – Over 90% of recruiters are searching the site for their next talent. Since recruiters are heavily utilizing the platform, you should be an active participant on LinkedIn. Need help getting started on LinkedIn? Read more about how to use Linkedin effectively on one of our previous posts by Lindsey Seaby, Assistant Director for Student Services & Academic Outreach in CISC at USG.

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As you navigate the job search, you should diversify your strategy and employ a combination of all the steps presented here. When I meet with students who have applied to jobs for weeks or months but have not received an interview, we discuss being stalled in their search. In this situation, the student may be spending too much time applying to jobs online and not enough time leveraging their relationships or developing a target list.

Need help fine-tuning your job search strategy? Meet with a career advisor in CISC to discuss your job search strategy in depth. Log-in to Career Connector today to schedule an appointment that can be conducted in-person, over the phone, or via Google Hangouts.

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