How to Navigate the Job Scene

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Mountwest Career Services offers the opportunity to meet employers face-to-face at networking events, employer information sessions and career fairs.

Are you getting ready to graduate? Have you lost your job? Maybe you want to change careers.  Do you need to start planning for that full-time job?

There’s a lot more to finding a job than passing out resumes or going online and simply applying. There are several different approaches for finding employment, and it’s best to use a variety of them for success.

Most job searches take between 3-6 months, and it is an extremely competitive market. Jobseekers need to be sure that they have the necessary tools and that they’re polished and ready to work for them. Thousands of graduating students and dislocated or unemployed workers throughout the United States begin the process of searching for full-time career opportunities each year. The search involves responding to job announcements, following up on suggestions and leads and participating in interviews.

In order to be successful in your job search, it is crucial to clearly identify the career field, areas of specialization, relevant skills or qualifications you possess, and the type of employer or work environment you prefer.  Your effectiveness in scoring a new job can be improved by applying for jobs that appear to be a good fit for both you and the potential organization.

In a competitive job market, it is especially important to use all the resources available to you.  Mountwest Career Services offers the opportunity to meet employers face-to-face at networking events, employer information sessions and career fairs.  Additionally, students and alumni are able to participate in on-campus interviews with local, regional, national and international employers.

In getting ready for the job search, it is helpful to recognize the current job market and trends.  Jobseekers seeking employment during an economic downturn will need to be more flexible in their job search.  Exploring how you can use your knowledge and skills within a variety of employment fields or considering opportunities in different geographic areas will produce more options for you.

There are many methods to finding job opportunities.  The most successful job search plan is one in which a variety of search strategies are used.

Develop a job search action plan.

• List the strategies and resources you want to use, and make a plan for how much time you’ll spend on your job search every week.

• Prepare your marketing materials.

• Have a well-written and targeted resume and cover letter full of industry terminology.  Both documents should be error free.

• Ask several people to proofread it before submitting it with the application.

First impressions matter.

• Develop a one-minute infomercial or “elevator speech” to enable you to network quickly.

• Create a plan to improve the delivery of your education, skills, and career goal to your potential employer.  You know what they say, “Practice makes perfect.”

Target industries and companies that interest you.

• Identify five to 20 companies you want to research and approach, even if they don’t have any active job listings. Consider this: Eighty percent of the jobs available today haven’t been publicized yet, and only 20 percent of job seekers are going after them.

• A great resource to help pinpoint those companies is the Employer Locator found online at

Apply for advertised jobs.

• Focus your attention on your target companies, but don’t forget to apply for jobs listed in your industry or field.  At Mountwest, students and alumni can access College Central.  On this job board jobseekers can search for local and national employment opportunities.  Other suggested job boards include Indeed, Simply Hired, CareerBuilder, and Monster.

• Search for positions by industry key words and apply for the jobs most recently posted first.

Stay focused and follow up with employers.

• After you send your resume, follow up with a phone call. Inquire if the hiring manager has received your resume and if you can schedule an interview.

• Be focused, enthusiastic and assertive, but not aggressive.

• Send a thank-you email letter after the interview.

Keep organized.

• Create a log of job-search actions and a file of all your interactions.

• Note the last time you spoke with each and to whom they’ve referred you.

Secure your references.

• Often in the job search process people matter more than paper. Allocate twice as much time to your references as to your resume.

• Call them before you need them.

• Ask permission to use them as references.

• Remain in contact and keep them informed when they’ll be called.

• After you get the job, make sure you notify them so they can celebrate with you!

Prepare for the interview.

• A job interview is one of the most intimidating ways of making a first impression. On the other hand, it’s also your chance to get on an employer’s good side, which can give you a distinct edge.

• Ask a career counselor to conduct a mock interview with you so you are ready.  As a practice, dress for the interview the way you would for the job itself. (If the job is extremely casual, you might want to arrive in business-casual attire to be on safe side.)

• Always have extra copies of your resume and references just in case.

• Shake hands and establish good eye contact with the organization’s representatives.

• Prepare questions in advance to ask from your research on the company.

Create a Plan B.

• Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get your dream job immediately! Take a position that will assist you in developing transferable skills, work in a similar trade, or consider volunteer opportunities, short-term or part-time work that could allow you to get your foot in the door.

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