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The Job Search Process

The job search process is like a campaign and every campaign requires a plan to accomplish its ultimate goal. Here are the steps you can take to find the right job for you!

Gain self-awareness

  • Know yourself, your skills, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, types of work activities you enjoy and the values which are most important to you.
  • Identify as precisely as possible the type of work or career you want to pursue, and make sure it is compatible with your skills, strengths and values.
  • Access sources of assistance: Career Services, library, the internet, etc.


  • Identify occupations, organizations and industries that interest you.
  • Develop your knowledge of organizations and industries where you would like to work.
  • Identify name and job title of person to whom you can send your resume and cover letter.
  • Utilize Career Services, libraries, Bureau of Labor Statistics, directories, the internet and other resources to assist you in your research.
  • Write your resume and cover letter by utilizing information provided by Career Services.
  • Meet with your career counselor if you need assistance or have any questions.
  • Prepare for your interview by reviewing questions and practicing.
  • Act professionally.


  • Network with alumni, professors, peers, former employers, relatives and others to acquire assistance in your employment search.
  • Seek advice, guidance and the names of other professionals who may help you.

Use online resources

  • Utilize the World Wide Web and company websites.
  • Conduct a multi-faceted job search.
  • Make use of all avenues available to you, such as on-campus interview and job fairs.
  • Identify and target organizations that meet your goals.
  • Utilize online resources.

Job search

  • Take advantage of:
    • Career fairs.
    • Workshops.
    • Handshake.
    • On-campus interviewing.
    • Career counseling.
  • Clarify your career goals.
  • Identify your job target.
  • Plan & organize your job search.
  • Create effective job search tools.
  • Use mutiple job search strategies.
  • Evaluate job offers.

Clarify your career goals

  • Identify your interests, values, and abilities through career counseling.
  • Reflect on your education, experience and personal attributes.
  • Determine what you can offer employers.
  • Consider your personal preferences (geographic location, employer size, work environment, etc.).

Identify your job target

  • Research career fields and industries (corporate, government, nonprofit, education, health care, etc.) - Career Guide to Industries.
  • Explore occupations – Occupational Handbook, Wetfeet and Vault.
  • Review common entry-level job descriptions on employer websites.
  • Conduct company research on employer websites, Hoover’s and Vault.
  • Consider government employment, state and local agencies.
  • Consider the nonprofit sector and opportunities such as Peace Corp and Americorps.
  • Consider working for Columbia College.
  • Review Midwest and U.S. Labor Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Plan and organize your job search

  • Identify the steps you need to take and the resources you will need.
  • Create a timeline for your job search plan.
  • Utilize resources from Career Services.
  • Track your progress and your interactions with employers.
  • Remember adversity is part of job search, so maintain a positive frame of mind and be persistent.
  • Create effective job search tools.
  • Your resume and cover letter are often the first impression you make as a professional or potential graduate student.
  • Visit the Resume & Cover Letter page.
  • Read more: Resume Writing and Cover Letter Writing (PDF).

Use multiple job search strategies

A job search involves more than one strategy to communicate with prospective employers. Some industries favor the use of some strategies over others. Review all of the strategies to determine which works best for your field. No matter your interest, networking remains one of the top strategies. As you engage in the various job search strategies, consider working with a career counselor as your job-search coach.

Job search strategies:

  • Networking Internet.
  • Handshake.
  • Professional associations.
  • Career fairs.
  • State & local employment agencies.
  • Targeted searches on both desired employers & industries.


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