Searching for Jobs
- Personal contacts
- Direct solicitation
- Job listing
- Campus recruiting
- Professional associations
- Alternate means
Does the phrase "job search" strike a fear of the unknown into your heart? For many college seniors and recent graduates, looking for employment means venturing into an arena where rules are unfamiliar and stakes may seem high. But the more you learn about the process and methods of the job search game, the more successful you're likely to be.
- A note to freshman, sophomores, and juniors: Although this section is targeted to those seeking post-college employment, you will find the suggestions useful for finding summer jobs and internships as well.
Looking for a job takes time. It's estimated that most people spend three-to-nine months on an employment search, depending on variables such as type of work sought and geographic preferences or limitations. It also takes hard work. You will be called upon to research employers, write letters, make follow-up phone calls, interview, and wrestle with tough decisions. Finally, there's a direct correlation between obtaining satisfying employment and having a good idea of what you're looking for in the first place. If you're facing the job search with only a vague goal of "wanting to work in business," or "finding something challenging," its time to step back and direct your efforts toward self assessment and career exploration.
Let's also examine the notion of "job" versus "career." Most people change career fields several times over the course of their working life. Rather than trying to plan your lifelong career at this point, you might ask yourself, "What do I want to gain from my first position after college?" Defining your priorities before you get to the job application stage can help you feel more directed.
When you've done your soul searching and are ready to begin the actual job hunt, it's important to understand how the game is played. There are many methods for obtaining employment, and the more you're familiar with, the greater are your chances for finding what you seek. "Putting all your eggs in one basket" is not a wise job search strategy. Your choice of methods should be based on occupational field, geographic preferences, and personal strengths and resources, but a combination of approaches is best.
Whatever approaches you choose, make sure to keep accurate records of the contacts you have with employers. Keep copies of correspondence and make notes immediately following every phone call, interview, or personal meeting.
Networking is the art of developing and utilizing contacts. Most available jobs are unadvertised, and it is estimated that networking can provide access to 70-80 percent of those unadvertised positions. There are any number of people you already know who could provide useful career information or job leads. Faculty, recent New Paltz graduates, supervisors, family friends, former teachers, neighbors, professionals in your community -- the list goes on. And, anyone you're acquainted with now is a potential link to someone you'd like to know. Since so many jobs are never advertised, you will increase your chances of landing a job you want by seeking out and keeping in touch with your contacts.
- For more help on building and utilizing contacts, see Networking and Information Interviewing*.
Most jobs are filled by people who are already known to the employer, or by folks who appear in the right place at the right time. To be considered for these "hidden" jobs, you need to begin with some detective work. Find out the names of key people in the organizations that interest you through networking, doing research in the Career Resource Center or library, or by phoning organizations directly.
Once you have identified the best contact person within an organization, you can proceed by visiting in person to introduce yourself. Ideally you will make a good first impression, develop rapport, and succeed in scheduling an interview. Or, you can send a resume and cover letter, then follow up with a phone call (or make calls on a periodic basis) to this person to politely request an interview. If an employer indicates that there aren't any current openings, ask how you can find out about upcoming ones. Also, ask for referrals to other people who may be hiring.
The Career Resource Center offers an online HawkHire program for faculty and staff who will have the opportunity to post job openings which they learn of through their personal/professional contacts. This will be an excellent resource for students and alumni as these postings will be made by "insiders" to tap into that "hidden" job market.
In addition, our office receives dozens of job announcements each week, from a wide range of employers. Most, but not all are in the Mid-Hudson region and New York City.
On-campus recruiting provides seniors and graduates easy access to a number of employers mostly from the Mid-Hudson region. When an employer schedules a campus visit, students sign-up by submitting a resume. In some cases, the employer will screen the resumes before deciding who to interview, in other cases they will interview anyone who signs up. Dates of special recruitment activities can be found on our upcoming events and programs page.
These events give you an opportunity to make initial contact with many employers at a central location. Our annual Accounting and Finance Symposium and Teacher Recruitment Day resume collections involve pre-screened, pre-scheduled interviews. Others, such as the Internship and Community Service Fair, are less structured. Students make the rounds of employer tables in a certain geographic region; some are for a particular industry, and others are very diversified. For dates of special events, visit the Career Resource Center's Job Fairs and Special Events.
Although you will certainly find successful stories of people who found great jobs in the "help wanted" ads, remember that a) many employers never list positions in the newspapers and b) newspaper ads are a magnet for job seekers, and often draw dozens, if not hundreds, of responses. When reading newspaper ads, first scan the entire section for misplaced ads, then carefully read all ads related to your field. When composing a cover letter in response to an ad, list point-by-point how your background and qualifications meet the requirements stated in the ad. In this way, your letter and resume should make it past the initial screening, even if there are lots of other applicants.
Many professional associations, both national and regional, have job listing newsletters or webpages. They also frequently offer placement services, such as arranging job interviews at conferences or conventions, or linking student members with established professionals. If there is an association in your intended career field, it would be advantageous to join soon.
State employment agencies are funded by the state labor department and often carry names like State Job Service or State Division on Employment Security. These agencies will try to match you with the appropriate jobs and will forward your resume to interested employers who have jobs listed with them.
Private employment agencies can be structured to receive payment either from employers or applicants. Seek out those agencies that will not charge you any fee, and try to find ones that specialize in your occupational field of interest.
These governmental positions are listed publicly and some require an examination for eligibility. Visit the New York State Department of Civil Service for more information, including a list of the dates of examinations.
Landing a permanent "9-to-5" job isn't the only way to break into the work world. For someone who wants to explore multiple career options, a couple of part-time jobs may be more appropriate than one full-time position. Consulting or freelancing work may be a possibility, too, depending on your talents and interests. In industries where internships are highly regarded, you may want to consider a short-term internship after graduation. "Temping" through an agency can provide job leads and give you experience in the industry of your choice. Some job seekers also find that volunteering is a good way to build up experience and make contacts, which can lead to employment. Use your imagination to think up other creative strategies as well!