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Starting a Successful Job Search by Katharine S. Brooks

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t doesn’t matter how or where you start—just start from where you are. The job search: You’ve probably been thinking about it off and on for a while. And whether you’re just starting college or graduating in a few months, you can take steps now that will boost your chances of finding a job even in a challenging economy. Sometimes the hardest part of a job search is just getting started. If you don’t have a pressing deadline related to the search, it’s easy to put it off for one more day while you focus on more immediate issues.

JOB-SEARCH TRAPS 1

“I don’t have a goal—I don’t know what I want to do.”

Most job-finding strategies start with “set a goal.” That can be a challenge when you don’t have a specific career goal. Or, maybe you have several goals and don’t know where to start. Don’t let your lack of a goal hold you back. Just think about what you might like to do and move one step closer to that—if you change your mind, you can always change your search. What sounds interesting to you right now? What experiment could you craft to learn more about it?

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“My major isn’t related to any career—or I don’t want the career that my major has prepared me for.”

Your major doesn’t have to relate directly to your career. Focus on what you have learned, what skills you have developed, and what knowledge you have gained that might be transferable to the job you’d like to do. Learn to articulate the value of your major to an employer.

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“I went online to look for a job and there’s just too much out there—I’m totally overwhelmed.”

You don’t have to read every website, every blog, and every list of “20 typical interview questions” that you find on the Internet. Focus on key resources and keep it simple. This magazine is a great start. If you read the articles in here, you will learn most of what you need to know in the job search.

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“I don’t have time for a job search right now.”

College is filled with distractions, but studies show that the earlier you start your search the greater the likelihood you will have a job at graduation—and earn more money in your first job than if you had waited. But searching for a job is roughly equivalent to taking an additional class—and who has time for that? That’s why you need to break the search down into small activities you can do in a short amount of time. You probably don’t have all day to devote to everything about the job search, so think about what you could do in 30 minutes or less. Reading this article is a great first step—and will only take you a few minutes. What can you do next?

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“The job search is too scary—and there are no jobs out there anyway.”

The job market has been tough in recent years, and we all tend to avoid things that are uncomfortable or challenging. You have two options: Admit defeat—and do nothing; or move forward as best as you can and see what happens. The job market is tight, but jobs do exist. Try not to be unduly influenced by the media and generic job-market statistics that may not apply to your geographic area or your career field. You should also recognize that the entry-level market is different from the mid-career market, so try not to let general reports about employment scare you off. Some companies are hiring. Finally, remember that your first job is just the start of your career, so don’t get hung up on finding the “perfect” job.

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Job Choices | National Association of Colleges and Employers

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Don’t Worry About Rejection—It Happens

HOW TO MOVE FORWARD 1

Use your career center.

It’s an efficient and effective way of quickly gathering a lot of information about resumes, interviews, who’s hiring, and so forth. In fact, a common refrain on alumni surveys is “I wish I’d used my career center.” Ignore students who say, “I’ve heard the career center isn’t all that helpful.” Find out for yourself. Attend the career center’s workshops or programs. Use the career center’s resources. Take advantage of the center’s walk-in hours, or set up an appointment.

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Create your brand.

• Make your resume and cover letter stand out by targeting them to each job. Link what you’ve done with what you want to do—especially if the connection isn’t obvious to the reader. • Prepare great stories to illustrate your talents and respond to those tough interview questions. • Check your online profile and remove any “digital dirt.” • Set up a LinkedIn account for professional networking.

Ask yourself, “Where am I now and where do I want to be one year from now?”

Let’s say you’re currently a senior and you’d like to work in the field of marketing when you graduate. So, can you do that tomorrow? If the answer is no—what do you need to do first? Maybe it’s writing your resume, or doing an internship, or taking a class, or identifying the companies that might hire you. Whatever steps you need to take, write them down and work on them when you can.

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Ask yourself, “When am I at my best?”

When have you been particularly proud of your accomplishments? They don’t have to be grand, by the way. Sometimes an accomplishment is just the afternoon you tutored a child. How can you parlay your “best” into an interview and your job? For instance, think about what skills you developed. Tutoring a child might have required patience and compassion. How might those traits be valuable in the job you’re seeking?

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Stay focused and keep it manageable.

Look for ways to make your job search as fun or interesting as possible. • Conduct small experiments to learn what you want to do: For example, volunteer for an afternoon to see if you really are interested in working for an environmental cause. • Write your resume while enjoying a latte in a coffee shop. • Think of networking as a way to meet new friends and interesting people. • Take a negative experience and create a story about how you overcame the challenges.

TIP Always have a purpose in mind when you have a walk-in or scheduled appointment.

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Don’t just say “Help me!” Know your purpose for the appointment. You’ll have a better experience.

Job Choices | National Association of Colleges and Employers

• Set a timer and tell yourself you’ll just work for “10 minutes” on something. When the timer rings, you can choose whether to keep going or stop.

In fact, I recommend you deliberately send a resume to a job you know you won’t get. That will remove any sting from the rejection, and you can move forward knowing that all it takes is one “yes” to get started on a great career path. Congratulations—if you finished this article, you’re already on your way! Your future awaits.

Katharine S. Brooks is the Director of Career Services for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of You Majored in What? and blogs at www.psychologytoday.com/ blog/career-transitions. She is also available through Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/ Katharine-Brooks/ 53353003343), and Twitter (twitter.com/KatharineBrooks).

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Playing Fair: Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Job Seeker by the National Association of Colleges and Employers Principles for Professional Practice Committee

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hoosing and attaining meaningful post-graduation employment is an important challenge for college students. Your career center and employers recruiting graduating college seniors participate in this process through various services and programs. NACE’s Principles for Professional Practice provides guidelines to ensure that students can openly, freely, and objectively select employment opportunities; students and employers are involved in a fair and equitable recruitment process; and students have support to make informed and responsible career decisions.

What you can expect from your career center

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Career center staff are expected to maintain the confidentiality of student information. Disclosure of student information outside the college/university should be made only with your prior consent, unless health and safety considerations necessitate the distribution of such information.

Career center staff should assist you in developing a career plan and making career decisions without imposing their own biases or personal values.

Confidentiality

Freedom of choice

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Access to all services and events

Career centers may charge you a nominal fee for registering or taking part in certain services or events. Such fees should not hinder your participation.

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Access to career information

Career center staff should provide all students, regardless of personal or educational background, with equal access to information on career opportunities and types of employing organizations.

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Testing information

Career center staff should inform you of the availability of testing, the purpose of the tests, and the policies for disclosing test results.

continued/What you can expect from employers _

Job Choices | National Association of Colleges and Employers

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What you can expect from employers

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Employers are expected to maintain the confidentiality of student information. Employers shouldn’t disclose information about you to another organization without your prior written consent, unless necessitated by health or safety considerations.

Employers are expected to provide accurate information about their organizations and employment opportunities.

Confidentiality

Accurate information

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Freedom from undue pressure

Employers are expected to provide you with a reasonable amount of time to make a decision about accepting an employment offer. Employers also are expected to provide you with a reasonable process for making your decision. It is improper for employers to pressure you to revoke your acceptance of another job offer.

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Timely communication

Employers are expected to inform you of your status in the hiring process and communicate hiring decisions within the agreed-upon time frame.

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Fair treatment

If an employer is required by changing conditions to revoke a job offer that you’ve accepted, you’re entitled to a fair and equitable course of action. That can include, but is not limited to, financial assistance and outplacement service.

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Testing information

Employers should inform you in advance of any assessments, the purpose of the tests, and their policies regarding disclosure of test results.

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Nondiscrimination Employers are expected to avoid discrimination in their recruitment activities and to follow equal employment opportunity and affirmative action principles.

What’s your part _

Job Choices | National Association of Colleges and Employers

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What’s your part?

1Provide accurate

information about your academic work and records, including courses taken, grades earned, positions held, and duties performed. You can, however, refuse to provide an employer with specific information about any job offers you may have received from others. You can give broad responses to such questions, naming types of employers— “I’ve interviewed with employers in the retail industry”—and offering salary ranges rather than specific dollar amounts.

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Be honest.

Do not lie or stretch the truth on your resume or applications, or during any part of the interview process.

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Interview genuinely.

Interview only with employers you’re sincerely interested in working for and whose eligibility requirements you meet. “Practice” interviewing wastes the employer’s time and money—and prevents sincerely interested candidates from using those interview slots.

Job Choices | National Association of Colleges and Employers

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Adhere to schedules.

Appear for all interviews, on campus and elsewhere, unless unforeseeable events prevent you from doing so. And, if you can’t make the interview because of an unexpected event, notify your career center or the employer at the earliest possible moment.

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Don’t keep employers hanging.

Communicate your acceptance or refusal of a job offer to employers as promptly as possible so they can notify other candidates that the position is filled or that they are still being considered.

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Accept a job offer in good faith.

When you accept an offer, you should have every intention of honoring that commitment. Accepting an offer only as a precautionary measure is misleading to the employer and may restrict opportunities for others who are genuinely interested in that employer.

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Withdraw from recruiting when your job search is completed.

If you accept an offer or decide that full-time graduate or professional studies are for you, notify your career center and withdraw from the on-campus recruiting process immediately. And, inform employers that are actively considering you for a job that you are no longer seeking employment.

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Claim fair reimbursement. If an employer has agreed to reimburse you for expenses you incur during its recruitment process, your request should be only for reasonable and legitimate expenses.

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Obtain the career information you need to make an informed choice about your future. It’s up to you to look into career opportunities and the organizations that offer them, and to acquire any other relevant information that might influence your decision about an employer.

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Starting A Successful Job Search