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Looking for your first job? Tips to get you started

Written by Monika Royal-Fischer (B.A. Communication, '97)

Looking for a job IS a job, so approaching it with a strategy in mind can pay off in the end by helping you get started on your career path. As you start your search, try incorporating some of these tips into your plan:

1. Have a good understanding of your skills, knowledge and experience.

UC has numerous assessments to help you pinpoint your strengths, skills and values plus, you are the expert in knowing what prior experience you have. Catalog this information to be used to develop targeted resumes that respond to specific needs outlined in a job ad.

2. Do research!


Don’t just assume that your degree limits you to a certain type of employer, or a certain role. Use online resources, the library, business publications, etc to dig into the types of companies and jobs that are available. Use government data on sites like O*NET to make sure that the jobs you’re considering have growth potential. Another option? Use LinkedIn to research others who graduated with your degree – see where they landed!

3. Network, Network, Network.

By now it’s probably been drilled into your head that it’s not what you know, but who you know. With apologies to faculty (most definitely college is important) it’s vital to have a strong network of connections that can help personalize your job search and connect you with others who are hiring. Who is in your network? Everyone you contact. Family, friends, co-workers, professors, staff and acquaintances. Make use of all the people you know. LinkedIN is useful here too, as you can networking digitally with individuals from around the world.

4. Track your activities and plan according

Your job search can take anywhere from 4-6 months, so the trick to success is to plan for the long-haul and set goals for how you’ll land your dream gig. Keep track of where you’re applying, and be sure to customize your resume for each position. Know the date you applied, so you know when to follow up (typically a week or two, depending on what the job ad says). Also, track your interviews so you know where you are in the process. Build in time for networking activities and for research too. If you come up with a schedule, your time becomes more valuable.

5. Practice interviewing

For most people, interviewing ranks up there with going to the dentist in terms of activities people love to hate to do. But, practicing your interviewing and refining your technique will pay big dividends in the end. Not only will you be more relaxed, but by preparing, you’ll have a better idea of how to answer the toughest questions.

6. Follow up

According to CareerBuilder, 57% of people don’t follow up after an interview. And 86% of hiring managers take this to show a lack of interest in the role. If you make it to an interview, follow up! Email is fine, but a handwritten note has a lot more punch. To make it easy, try keeping pre-stamped Thank You cards in your car or your laptop bag. Customize after an interview and pop into the mailbox right after you’re done with your interview. Sharp!

Do you have any tried-and-true job search methods? Share them with us!

Monika Royal-Fischer


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