Career Center

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logo Job Search Strategies

OVERVIEW....

The most important element in conducting an effective search is the research you do. First, you need to know yourself - what are you good at? What are you interested in? What will be important to you in your first job? How does that all fit with your field? Second, research your field - Where are the jobs? How will you need to market yourself? Put yourself in the employer's shoes - What methods do they use to find candidates? Your prioritization of time and effort in your job search should be in tune with what an employer is doing to identify candidates.

STRATEGIES....

Networking

Networking is a strategy that you can start early. Get to know faculty and managers on campus. Talk with them about your career goals. Take advantage of opportunities to hear speakers who come to campus. Research whether there is a student chapter or student membership rate for a professional association in your field of interest. Use the Muhlenberg Career Network (available in the Career Resource Library), a database of alumni who are willing to talk with students about their career fields. Take a look at your circle of friends, family and other contacts who may know someone who knows someone in your field. Some of the best contacts may come from what you may think are unlikely places - your hair stylist, the dry cleaner, your uncle's next door neighbor. See Networking article for more information.

Targeted Applications

Employers seek focused candidates. The one who is serious shows interest in the organization by mentioning relevant information - information they uncovered in researching the organization. The candidate who is serious provides supporting evidence in their letter that is targeted. See cover letter article.

Responding to Job Postings

When one thinks of searching for a job, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the job board on monster.com or the local newspaper. Responding to job advertisements is the most well-known and pursued job search strategy. It can be a viable option - people do get jobs through the want ads, but consider again how employers seek candidates. Job postings may not be the best strategy for all fields or all employers. Also, these ads are typically placed when there is an immediate hiring need, a strategy referred to as "just-in-time hiring." The other strategies we mention will be most helpful if you are planning ahead, as we strongly recommend.

If you are responding to advertisements, do so within the first few days of seeing the ad. If a contact name and title were not given, do your best to uncover that information before you send your cover letter and resume. Everyone is more interested in mail that comes addressed to them personally.

Job Fairs and Career Fairs

Employers' motivations for attending fairs vary - to meet several potential candidates within a specified timeframe, to increase awareness of their organization, to collect resumes and conduct initial screening interviews, or some combination of these reasons.

For you as a candidate, job and career fairs are excellent places to connect with potential employers, learn about their organizations, and make an initial impression.

The Career Center maintains information on fairs that we hear about in the Career Resource Library and on our website. Most fairs do not require a fee for job seekers to attend. Refer to the article on how to make the most of job fairs.

Campus Recruiting Program

The Career Center helps graduating seniors (and occasionally juniors and sophomores) connect with employers who are interested in recruiting Muhlenberg talent through on-campus interviews, information sessions, and resume collections.

This page gives more details on the recruiting program.

Career Center programs

Look for workshops throughout the year that will assist you in preparing for a job search, and help you connect with alumni and employers to develop a network of contacts. Ask us for the latest copy of the semester's schedule of events, or check the Career Connections calendar for information and updates.

Websites

Refer to www.muhlenberg.edu/main/aboutus/careercenter/students/job/on the Career Center website for some sites that we have identified as helpful. Search the web for others related to your specific field of interest as well. If you're not sure where to begin, sites like vault.com, monstertrak.com, and wetfeet.com are specially designed for college students conducting career research and looking for entry-level jobs. In addition, there are many industry specific databases online. Try entering your field of interest, such as "art therapy" and "jobs" or "careers" into an Internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo.

Employment Agencies

When dealing with a third party recruiter such as an employment agency, be sure you understand how they operate - you only want to deal with a firm that is employer paid (not paid by you). Find out as much as you can about their reputation - Who are their clients? How long have they been in business? How does the agency earn their commission? Find out as much as you can about the organization with which the agency wants you to interview. Working with an agency can be a great way to gain exposure to opportunities; but only accept a position that truly interests you.

Following Up...

Regardless of how you identify leads, your follow-up in your job search can make the difference between getting an interview and not getting one. A proactive approach of contacting organizations by phone, to follow up on the letter and application you have sent, can demonstrate your sincere interest in the organization. Read the "Follow-Up" article on for more information.

The Career Center, Muhlenberg College
2400 W. Chew Street, Allentown, PA 18104-5586
Ph: (484) 664-3170    Fax: (484) 664-3533


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Last Revised March 25, 2008
Questions and comments? Send e-mail to careers@muhlenberg.edu
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