FINDING JOB LEADS
Making the Most of What's at Your Fingertips
Computers and in particular the Internet:
Offer the means to review job descriptions, transmit your cover letter
and resume, complete company application forms, submit writing samples,
take a battery of aptitude or psychological tests, provide written responses
to interview questions, and even receive and accept job offers via e-mail.
However, there are some genuine concerns about the security and confidentiality
of the personal information you transmit electronically. Discuss these
issues with your career counselor so that you can make an informed decision
about sending your information electronically.
Jobs on the Internet: The number of job listings on the Internet is
increasing at an astronomical rate. In additional to national databases,
there are now regional, state, even city job listing systems. Today, many
newspapers include their employment classified ads online, and employers
of all types are posting current vacant positions on their company web
sites. Many of these sites provide search engines to help you narrow your
selections; often such sites include instructions about how to apply -
sometimes by mail, but increasingly directly online.
Your strategy - For all resumes you post or transmit on the Internet,
be sure to use key words to describe your academic, employment, and extracurricular
Follow the rules for scannable resumes so your information is readable.
Whenever feasible, customize your resume and include a cover letter that
tells the employer how you are qualified to do the job.
Read the application instructions and be careful about routinely giving
permission for anything and everything to be done with your information.
(When in doubt, print the instructions and discuss them with a career adviser.)
Alumni career networks:
Many schools have a group of alumni who have volunteered to provide
career-related information to currently enrolled students or fellow alumni.
Often, these networks can help you explore and clarify your career options,
conduct informational interviews, seek internship and externship opportunities,
make valuable connections for employment, even consider graduate and professional
schools. Increasingly, these networks are computerized, allowing you to
query the databases for information such as academic majors, occupational
interests, geographic locations, and/or other key job search criteria.
In some alumni networks, the volunteers are able to specify the level of
their involvement (for example, some may only feel comfortable providing
advice over the telephone while others indicate a willingness to take a
more active role in helping you).
Your strategy - Be courteous and gracious - volunteers are the most
precious of resources. Contact the alumni in the manner they prefer and
follow the procedures established by your career services and/or alumni
offices. Use the alumni network as a springboard to develop an even larger
job search network by soliciting the names of additional contacts.
Send your resume, accompanied by a cover letter, anytime you think it might
Send a letter of appreciation after every contact. When you graduate,
be sure to sign up as an alumni career network volunteer.
Most, if not all, academic programs of study have national or regional
professional associations or societies that provide a variety of services
to members (e.g., newsletters and job listings). Some have services to
help members network with other members.
Your strategy - Be courteous and gracious and follow the procedures
established by the professional association. If applicable, contact the
members in the manner they prefer.
Use the network as a springboard to develop an even larger job search
network by soliciting the names of additional contacts. Send your resume,
accompanied by a cover letter, anytime you think it might be helpful. Send
a letter of appreciation after every contact. When you graduate, be sure
to join your regional or national professional association.
Your ability to distinguish between an employer's telephone call and
a telephone interview can make a big difference in whether you get a particular
job. Telephone calls from employers might include invitations to attend
an information session, participate in an on-campus interview, or make
arrangements for an on-site interview. Telephone interviews, however, are
just that - they are efficient and relatively inexpensive ways for employers
to conduct initial screening interviews, even follow-up interviews. Sometimes,
calls are hard to distinguish from interviews, and in a rather casual,
unannounced manner you find yourself responding to a set of questions that
require as much thought and preparation as would be necessary if you had
traveled to the employer's office dressed in your best interviewing attire.
Your strategy - Determine whether it is a call or an interview - calls
are primarily informational - interviews include job-related questions.
If it is an interview, decide quickly if this is a good time to talk. If
not, simply ask if you can arrange a mutually convenient time to conduct
the interview. Apply your best interviewing skills (even if you are dressed
to play tennis). Follow-up as you would for any interview.
E-mail is widely used in the job search process as a means of communication,
and its applications continue to grow. For example, after interviewing
on campus, one employer realized that she had selected too many students
for on-site interviews. Upon returning to her organization, she contacted
some of her hiring managers to develop a list of follow-up questions that
might help her further screen the candidate pool. She then e-mailed the
list of questions to each student. All of the students responded, and after
she and the hiring managers reviewed their answers, they realized that
some of the students had much better writing skills than others. Because
strong communication skills was listed in the position description as an
important and job-related qualification, those students who demonstrated
the best writing skills were the ones invited for on-site interviews.
Your strategy - Access and read your e-mail at least once daily. Take
your time replying to official, job-related e-mails. If you need assistance,
have a draft of your note proofed by someone before cutting and pasting
it into your e-mail reply.
Personal web pages or URLs share a characteristic with telephone answering
machine or voice mail messages--they can leave a great, first impression
or a first, last impression. Career counselors hear numerous stories from
employers who, after hearing a candidate's "unprofessional" answering message,
simply never call again. The same care and cautions can be applied to personal
Your strategy - Regularly review and screen the information on your
personal URL. Include site information in your resume and/or cover letter
especially when it points to some professional work experiences or hobbies.
Periodically update the information,especially if you include such items
as your resume or personal calendar/class schedule. Maintain some level
of security for your site.
Resource: Dr. James L. McBride, Jr.
University Director, University Career Services
University of Virginia
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