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1 Georgia College & State University Career Center Professional Development Series Presents: Contact Us: University Career Center 232 Lanier Hall, Milledgeville Campus

2 Contents of this Guide: The Job Search: A Rewarding Full-Time Job...page 3 Before Beginning a Job Search...pages 4-5 Job Search Strategies...page 6-8 Evaluating Job Offers...page 9 Final Tips on Conducting a Successful Job Search...page 10 Resources...page Sample Informational Interview Questions...page 11 Networking 101: Developing Your Network Worksheets...page Networking 101: Sample Scripts...page 14 Job Offer Checklist...page 15 Rating Your Job Offers...page 16. 2

3 The Job Search: Finding A Rewarding Full-Time Job What should I expect when looking for a job? You may have decided to attend graduate school for a variety of reasons. Whether you chose to attend right after undergraduate or you decided to get your degree in order to increase your career opportunities, this handbook will provide you with valuable information relevant for any job seeker. Although your situation may be different, the job search strategies that we discuss will be applicable to any level. Looking for a professional internship or full-time job is a time intensive activity. If you wanted just any job, it would be easy. However, as someone pursuing a graduate degree, you are mostly likely looking for a specific type of opportunity which may take 6 9 months to locate. Depending on external factors affecting your search, it could even take a year. To find a quality position, you must consider the actual search as a full-time job. Although searching for a position is hard work, it can be very rewarding. Remember, the time and energy spent locating a position that matches your interests, values, and goals will be worth it as you successfully begin a satisfying career. Consider the following points: Even in the toughest economic times, thousands of positions become available and are filled every month. The most qualified candidate does not always get the position. The best jobs often go to the candidates who know the most about how to get the job. ALWAYS tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job. If you are changing careers, you want to show that you are interested in the new career and not hanging on to the old one. Your academic discipline does not need to mandate the type of position you will enter (i.e. English majors can become a business manager). By properly presenting your skills and abilities, you can benefit from a broad range of opportunities. If you are entering your first job, it s exactly that your first job! It may not be your dream job right away but as long as it builds skills and experiences that will prepare you for that dream job, then you are well on your way. The average person will have seven or eight positions in three or more different career fields in his/her lifetime. The more targeted you are in your search, the more effective you will be. Employers Expectations Remember that employers have expectations about what they are looking for in candidates. Employers expect job applicants to communicate how they can meet their business needs on job applications, resumes, and during interviews. Keep in mind the following basic needs of employers: Employers need to make and save money. Employers need their organization to grow. Employers need a problem free work environment. Employers need people who get along well with others. 3

4 With these expectations in mind, it is the responsibility of the applicant to understand how he or she can meet these expectations and prove to be a valuable investment for the employer. The only way for applicants to do this successful is by taking the time to identify their specific skills, interests, abilities, and goals, and focus their job search in the area(s) where they see a potential match between themselves and positions available. Before Beginning a Job Search What should I do before starting a job search? The job search resembles a marketing strategy. The candidate represents the product and the world of work represents the market. In order to properly market yourself, you must thoroughly discover what the product (you) can do for your market. Making these discoveries is called self-assessment and is important to understanding exactly what you can offer an employer. Successful candidates are the ones who can set themselves apart from others by having a solid understanding of how they can make a positive contribution to potential employers. Knowing Yourself Although it may seem easy to assess yourself (e.g., skills, abilities, interests), most individuals benefit from some assistance. Here are some ideas on how to gain new perspectives about you: Take a formal self-assessment (or commonly referred to as career tests ). Although they are not actual tests, self-assessments can help you better understand your various characteristics (e.g. personality, interests) that can then be used in a job search. Self-assessments are offered through the Counseling Center in 122 Lanier Hall. Contact them for more information at You can also take free assessments online. Visit to complete the Self-Directed Search. Create your resume and have it critiqued before you send it to employers. You will gain a better understanding of how you would appear to an employer before actually meeting with one. The University Career Center can assist with resumes via at if you are unable to travel to Milledgeville. Know Your Future Employer and the Position You Want to Apply For There are literally thousands of opportunities available to you, but to be effective in your search you need to narrow down the scope of your job campaign to those positions most in sync with your interests and abilities. Job-market research will help you to understand your future employer(s) and gain a firmer understanding of the job(s) you are seeking. Written Resources o o o There is a vast wealth of knowledge that contains career information. Countless articles, books, journals, and directories are at your finger tips in any library. Such resources include descriptions of specific jobs, qualifications required, salary information, and much more! Newspapers and magazines often feature articles about certain industries, occupations, and fields of work. Almost all professions have Professional Associations who publish career and industry information on their website. In addition to jobs, these publications 4

5 contain information pertaining to new products and technologies, industry developments and changes, current trends, and emerging occupations. Internet Resources o Use the internet to learn as much as you can about your field and to generate lists of companies for your search. o There is vast amount of career and job search information available at your fingertips; however, it can be difficult to distinguish what information is the most accurate and relevant. o Beware of sites that charge a fee. Most career-related information is posted in multiple places and can probably be found for free. o If ever in doubt about the information that you find online, check with the Career Center. There might be an even better source than the one you found! Informational Interviewing o A great way to gather personal and up-to-date information about careers is by having a conversation with people currently employed in your job search target area. These conversations are called an informational interview and are a great way to expand your network. o Informational interviews can be started by contacting your personal network. This may include your family, friends, roommates, past employers, mentors, and professors. Ask these contacts for names of people within occupations or organizations that interest you. If this does not bring the desired results, you can obtain contact names by consulting corporate brochures, professional associations, if in Georgia, websites such as or doing a Google search for the area s Chamber of Commerce. These are great ways to create a list of businesses related to your interests. o Decide what you are going to say to your new contacts. You can either call these contacts or send a letter through or mail. Always let the new contact know how you found out about them. o In your communication, ask to schedule a telephone or in-person meeting where you can ask the new contact questions about his or her career and company as a way to help you with your own career exploration. Avoid the word job so that you can focus on information gathering. If you can get it, an in-person meeting is the best form of networking. o Before beginning an informational interview, make sure that you have completely researched your career field. You do not want to ask questions that you could easily find the answer to on the organization s website or in written literature. Being prepared will help you present yourself as knowledgeable, sincerely interested, and mature. This will make a favorable impression. o Your questions should show that you have a genuine interest in learning more about the career area you have chosen. o Take your resume with you. You never know when someone might want to see it. You may even be able to get a few pointers from an industry professional! o Always act in the most professional manner possible when conducting informational interviews. This includes dressing appropriately, arriving early, being prepared, organized, polite, and considerate. And of course, follow up the interview with a thank you letter! 5

6 o o A good concluding question during an informational interview would be to inquire about other people in the profession with whom you could speak to gain more information about your chosen field. This will give you additional contact people from whom to seek information. Above all, you should never hint that you are asking for a job during an informational interview. You should only use an informational interview to gather career information. Should I Tell My Current Employer that I m Job Searching? Realistically, you should always be job searching so that you re always aware of opportunities that might fit your goals and interests. If your employer knows that you are in graduate school, they are probably expecting you to leave their organization at some point, especially if you are pursuing a degree in a different field. Everyone has a different relationship with his or her supervisor, so you will need to make an individual decision on letting your employer know that you are beginning a job search. If you have a supportive supervisor with whom you talk often about the next step in your professional career, then discussing your job search may actually help you get to that next step. However, if you fear that job searching could be held against you, especially in an uncertain economy, you are under no obligation to share this information until you are ready. If you enjoy working for your current employer but would like your graduate degree to help you pursue new leadership roles, let your employer know! If you haven t had this talk already with your employer, you should have it soon. When you begin interviewing for jobs and the companies are asking for references, then it may be time to let your employer know that you are seriously pursuing other opportunities. Some individuals will use other references so that they can wait until a firm job offer before telling their current employer. No matter what you decide, just make sure you give your employer plenty of notice prior to your last day of work. Job Search Strategies I m prepared to start a job search. What should I do now? Basically, most graduate students obtain employment in five ways: personal networking ; on campus recruitment; direct contact with employers; answering advertisements; and employment agencies. The successful job search combines each strategy as it pertains to the individual job-seeker s goals. Each individual s job search will be different, and you need to plan a strategy that utilizes a combination of these tactics. Personal Networking Without a doubt, one of the most effective, and most underutilized, methods of obtaining employment is through personal networking. The reality of the job market is that many positions, some say as high as percent, are filled without ever being advertised. This creates what is called the hidden job market, and the most effective 6

7 way to break into this market is through your personal network. What is Networking? We are networking each time we talk with someone and share information about ourselves. Networking can be as informal as talking with a family friend at the grocery store and as formal as telling your academic advisor about the type of internship you are seeking. Contacting people you know (and don t know) in order to find out about industries, organizations, jobs, hiring trends and emerging fields (informational interviewing). Developing a professional connection that you initiate, which provides value to both parties. Demonstrating your appreciation for the time others spend with you to help you attain your professional goals. Remember, you may also be able to provide valuable information to your networking contact, so make sure you don t focus only on yourself. Asking if he/she knows anyone else that might be a helpful contact. Illustrations excerpted from High Impact Resumes and Letters by Ronald Krannich and William J.Banis) On Campus Recruitment The Career Center provides a number of opportunities for students and alumni to meet with employers. Although it is not a good idea to limit your job search to on campus recruiting, you will definitely want to take full advantage of these resources available to you just for being affiliated with Georgia College & State University. Career Connection o All students at any stage in their academic career with GCSU should register with Career Connection. Visit to register. o Career Connection is an online program that allows students to upload their resumes and network with potential employers. o Employers and the Career Center staff continually post internship and fulltime job positions o Employers have access to students resumes and will invite students to apply for their positions. 7

8 o In addition to available positions, Career Connection offers students an employer directory and resource library. Career Fairs o Through Career Connection, students can register for upcoming career fairs. o Career fairs are events when employers come to campus to recruit students for their employment needs. o Typically, employers are in attendance during an on campus career fair. o Often times, employers will host their follow up interviews with student on campus following the career fair. o The Career Center promotes both on campus and state-wide career fairs. All career fair information is available through Career Connection. Direct Contact with Employers If you are seeking employment with specific organizations or with an organization in a specific geographical location or industry, an effective strategy is to contact employers directly. Be Aware: Directly contacting employers does not mean mass mailing your resume and waiting for a response. This is an ineffective way to purpose employment. A great place to begin is through Career Connection where you can access the employer directory. The directory represents a full range of career opportunities regardless of academic discipline or geographic preference. Remember to identify organizations that most closely match your occupational goals by researching them thoroughly. If you find an employer you want to contact, contact the Career Center for contact information (after we review your resume!). Write a customized cover letter to the organization of interest. The letter should be addressed to a specific person, preferably the person who has the authority to hire you. Avoid sending Dear Sir or Madam or To Whom It May Concern letters. After sending a letter, follow up with a phone call after 7-10 business days. Because of the number of resumes received by employers, it is essential that you distinguish yourself from other candidates. Accomplishing this will take effective paperwork and persistent follow-through on each contact. Answering Advertisements Many employers use newspapers and other publications (both printed and online) to advertise their job openings. To overlook this avenue to employment is to overlook an abundance of immediate openings in a specific geographic location or a specific occupation. Take the time to determine where employers in your desired field or industry advertise their job openings. Professional associations often include job openings in their journals. Some employer post vacancies on their own websites. Consider newspapers within your desired geographic location. Of course, remember to use the advertised positions on Career Connection. Employment Agencies There are a number of private employment agencies in the business of obtaining employment for their clients. Employment agencies often focus on a specific type of 8

9 talent. When you contact the agency, ask if they recruit for professional positions and at what level. Companies often use an employment agency so that can use someone temporarily and then hire them full-time when they see that it will be a good fit. Always check the credibility of an employment agency through the Better Business Bureau ( ) and previous clients. Pyramid marketing companies are sometimes reported on Good employment agencies charge the company who they are recruiting for and not the job seeker. When an agency wants money from you, go elsewhere. You may also try a Career One Stop through the U.S. Department of Labor. However, be aware that many of the jobs posted through a state employment agency often do not require a college degree. Career One Stop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and provides links to state employment offices: As a final thought about searching for a job, remember when using these strategies that you will also need to market yourself professionally and effectively. This would mean preparing for your job search by Having a well organized, grammatically correct, and visually appealing resume. This is often considered your first impression to an employer... be sure to make it a good one! Ensuring that all correspondence (e.g., cover letter, follow up letters, thank you letters, etc.) are individually tailored and written to make you stand out from your competition. Remember, these correspondences reflect on your ability to pay attention to detail and communicate effectively. Researching. Only positive things can be said about someone who spends time prior to an interview researching the organization and position in which he or she is applying. Make certain that this is you. Scheduling a mock interview with the Career Center. This is a great way to practice your interviewing skills before an actual interview with an employer. Remembering that no two interviewing processes are the same, but the goal in all interviews is to determine mutual interest. Thus, you and the employer will be evaluating the match or fit during each stage of the process. Evaluating a Job Offer I have a job offer! What is my next step? If an employer determines an appropriate fit exists between you and the organization, he or she will offer you the position. Typically, this offer is normally made over the phone and is followed by a letter outlining the details of the offer. Managing the Time Frame After an offer has been extended, a time frame is usually set by the employer for when you will need to make a decision. If you cannot make a decision within the specified time, you can negotiate an extension with the employer. These types of negotiations are common, but make sure that you are sensitive to the hiring needs of the employer when negotiating for additional time. 9

10 Receiving Multiple Offers If you receive multiple job offers, you need to examine each one very closely. Consider the following when examining your job offers: What is important to you? (e.g., advancement, challenge, work environment, salary, security, etc). As you mentally go through all of the contacts you have had with each employer, what was your level of comfort with the organization? Do you feel you will be comfortable with the given work environment? Above all, trust your instinct. A gut reaction is often right on target! Find someone impartial to talk to about your decision. While you ll definitely talk it over with your spouse, family, or friends, the Career Center can help you weigh options in a more neutral atmosphere. Making a Decision It is best to accept an offer with a phone call and follow it up with a letter of confirmation. In the letter include specifics of your offer and once again express your eagerness to begin your career with your future employer. It s definitely acceptable to schedule another meeting with the supervisor before accepting. In the case of multiple offers, make sure to contact all employers who have given you offers. If you have to decline an offer, do so by phone and follow up with a letter. Express to the employer your gratitude for the offer and try to keep the door open for future opportunities. As a courtesy, you should also contact other employers that you are currently in contact with to let them know that you have accepted an offer. Always inform your network of contacts and your references that you have secured a position and thank them for their help! Final Tips on Conducting a Successful Job Search Here are some final thoughts on conducting a successful job search: There is a multitude of assistance available to you. Make certain to have an appointment with a Career Center advisor to discuss your job search strategies, plan of action, and timetable. Familiarize yourself with all of the resources available to you through the Career Center: our resource libraries, Career Connection, and preparation services. Consider investing in a one to two handbooks on the job search. Many of these types of texts are available, and some are better than others. Consult with a Career Center advisor for suggestions. Pay attention to the quality of your job search paperwork. So many quality individuals are unable to find jobs due to a poorly constructed resume or improper correspondence. Following up is the most important! Following up refreshes the employers mind about who you are and how you can meet their organization s needs. Following up takes time, but it will bring great rewards in the long haul. Carefully review employer web sites for vacancies and online application opportunities. 10

11 Don t put all your eggs in one basket. This means use a variety of job search strategies concurrently. Take time to develop appropriate career goals and focus your energies on realistic job targets. Always keep a positive attitude! This makes a huge difference between a desirable candidate and an undesirable candidate. 11

12 Networking 101: Developing Your Network Worksheet Write down three people that immediately come to mind for each category. Don t discount someone just because they are not in the geographic location you need. You never know who someone else might know! Refer to the Who Should Be In Your Network chart if you need ideas. GCSU Other Schools/Colleges Attended Leisure Activities/Hobbies Family/Friends Professional Services (where you do business) Work Other

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