Job Search Tips From Alumni

Tips from ASK volunteers

The following tips have been submitted by ASK Volunteers throughout the nation. Though these volunteers come from a variety of different fields and backgrounds, they share the common goal of assisting you in your job and internship search.

Tips for Being Successful & Making a Great Impression at the Career Fair

  • Come prepared. Bring polished resumes to leave with employers.
  • Do your homework before the Fair. Know something about the companies you want to target.
  • Develop a set of questions ahead of time, prioritized from those that are most important to you to least important in case you run out of time to ask them all.
  • Don't start your conversation with "So do you have any openings?" -- from the employer's perspective that can be a real turn-off.
  • Use direct eye contact and be able to state, in a concise manner, what your goals are.
  • Don't do all the talking. Listen and ask focused questions.
  • Be yourself.

Tips for Conducting an Effective Job Search

  • If you don't have much experience, consider doing volunteer work if you think it might give you an edge with employers.
  • Make sure you visit a company's internet site. You might find job listings, press releases, mission statements, articles and product information -- all of which will help you in your search.
  • Do your research! It doesn't take much time and will really provide insight into the issues and challenges the employer is facing and could help you understand employment needs.
  • Don't lie on your resume....it WILL come back to haunt you.
  • Network, Network, Network! The more contacts you make early on, the more successful you will be. Also don't forget about professional organizations -- great springboards to many untapped contacts.
  • Whatever you promise, do it immediately. If you promise to send references, a writing sample etc... put it in the mail the same day if at all possible.
  • Don't discount the value of targeting a not-for-profit corporation. Most non-profits operate in a fairly lean mode and are willing to take advantage of any skill or talent for which you demonstrate an aptitude. Non-profit entry level jobs and internships carry the potential to show off skills that might otherwise stay hidden in a larger, for-profit setting. In addition, you have incredible access to community leaders that serve on a Board of Directors.
  • Visit Web sites -- more and more employers are posting job information on these sites.
  • Read the book Knock 'em Dead by Martin Yate.
  • You have to be assertive to find your dream job, but don't assume everyone who meets you will want to or be able to help you out. Be persistent, but avoid coming off as pushy.
  • Consider expanding your search beyond specific industries and job titles.
  • An honest and open conversation with an employer will help both you and the employer. Recall that you need to select your place of employment and be happy there as much as they need to find good people to fill their openings.

Tips for Following Up After the Career Fair

  • Always write a thank you letter! From the hiring perspective, the interviewees that leave a lasting impression are those that take a few minutes to follow up.
  • If there were aspects of the conversation you had with an employer, make a note of it and bring that up again in your follow up/thank you letter. This will help the employer remember you.
  • Find out when you can call again to keep following up.

Other Tips

  • Always dress the part. Dress appropriately for the company/field you are pursuing. When in doubt, better to err on the conservative side. The first impression is so critical in having prospective job contacts take you seriously.
  • Remove nose rings, eyebrow rings and earrings beyond the first pair.
  • Don't discount the value of networking. Start building a professional network by attending professional association meetings, contacting alumni, contacting friends of family or faculty, and at the end of every informational interview ask for additional names.
  • The job search process can be stressful. Take time to keep yourself balanced.
  • Take the time to do an internship. This can be a valuable tool in confirming your interest in a given field and might help you learn that a particular career isn't all it is cracked up to be.
  • Coach your roomies to take good messages, and make sure your answering machine message is understandable and professional.
  • Try not to leave rambling voice mail messages...script it out ahead of time if necessary.
  • Be organized. If you don't have a calendar, buy one and use it. You don't want to miss opportunities just because you forgot to write them down.
  • Remember, your first job offer is not necessarily your best one!

Thank you to the following alumni for providing these job search tips!

Julie Peterson, Sonjia Mata, Barry Barnes, Andrea Harrison, Niki Elenbaas, Kristi Grenz, Brian Jolin, Janet Craswell, Hilary Wiek, Greg Jones, Scott Engle, Wayne Ledbetter, Clark Ritchie, Zach Goldberg, Patrick Gabrish, Stan Sorensen, Paul Weigel, Jennifer Bohn and Peter Hapeman.