Searching for a job vs. an effective job search
Looking for work can be overwhelming, and it can be easy for students to just focus on applying to as many jobs as possible. However, you can perform an effective job search through proactive online research and by connecting with employers before jobs are even advertised. While this takes more work and may require you to step out of your comfort zone, this approach will increase your chances of securing an interview.
Elements of an effective job search
There are many different approaches to finding a job. Some can be more successful than others, so it's best to use multiple approaches to maximize your results.
There are many ways to find out what you want. If you’re still trying to determine what your strengths and interests are, you can also complete a self-assessment with Career Services to understand the types of careers that could suit you best. You can also check out the Serious Job Seeker or ALIS to clearly identify your strengths and targets.
Research will include understanding the industries you might work in, where you want to work, and who the key employers are. Targeted contacts within organizations can also help you to understand and uncover where the opportunities are. Market trends provide valuable information about labour market needs.
For more detailed tips, check out ALIS' work search basics article.
Once you have identified your strengths and targets and have connected with the labour market, you will need to prepare your job search documents. These can include:
- Cover letter
- Online profiles (LinkedIn, association profiles, etc.)
- Business cards
Each cover letter, approach letter and resume should be targeted toward the position you are applying for. Even a simple tweak to tailor the document to the job description can pay off!
Job search strategies can be categorized into four broad categories:
- Applying to job postings
- Using staffing firms
- Direct contact
We recommend that you try multiple strategies throughout your job search. However, connecting or networking with people is proven to be extremely effective and should be the cornerstone of any job search.
Your network can be extremely helpful in finding a job. Peers, professors, friends/family and colleagues may know of an opportunity that isn't publicly posted, or even provide a personal referral to an employer.
Networking activities can include:
- Adding contacts on LinkedIn
- Requesting an information interview with someone in the industry or in the company
- Finding a mentor
- Putting a call out to your network for available opportunities
Check out our Networking page to learn more about networking and get tips for improving your networking skills.
Going to events where employers will be present is a great way to connect with employers. You can use this opportunity to learn more about the company, potential careers and job opportunities before there is a job posting.
- Career Services holds multiple career fairs throughout the fall and winter term, where you can meet hundreds of employers within a day. Some employers may also be interviewing on the spot!
- For more in-depth conversations with employers, register for an information session throughout the year. In these events, employers can present information specifically about their company, culture, career opportunities and more.
In addition to using the campus-wide job boards on Elevate, consider using a job search-specific engine such as Indeed, which searches various job boards and company sites for postings.
If you’re interested in working for a specific company, monitor their website/careers page and subscribe to job alerts if they provide them.
You should respond to all postings if you feel you're a good fit (or even a partially good fit). Some experts say you're doing well if you get one interview for every 40 resumes you send out in response to specific postings, so don’t be discouraged!
Photo by Vlada Karpovich
Be proactive in your search
It's helpful to think of the job search as a constant process — don't just start looking when the need arises. Being proactive in your search helps you be aware of upcoming opportunities, be memorable to employers when they start hiring and increase the likelihood that your application will stand out amongst the candidates.
Here are some ways you can be proactive:
- Actively connect with employers and/or hiring managers at the company in addition to your job application whenever possible
- Apply early via the company website
- Have two to three possible job targets
- Use a targeted resume and cover letter