University of Tampa
Career Services Department
STRATEGIES & TACTICS
Myth-busting 101: How to Conduct a Job Search
MYTH: "I can just post my resume online and call it a job search."
TRUTH: The vast majority of available jobs are not advertised or posted online.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70-80% are obtained through networking. You can waste a lot of time trying to work online job sites when you could be conducting a real job search through networking.
MYTH: "I'm the focus of my job search."
TRUTH: Prospective employers are the focus of your job search:
Research businesses in your field and target the top 11 where you think you'd like to work.
Businesses have different specialties, clients, and needs. The more you know about them, the better equipped you'll be to address their needs and gain opportunities to meet key people. Join organizations where these folks are members. Learn everything you can about them through online and other sources and seek out people who have relationships with the businesses (again, through networking events, etc.). Consider how your skills could benefit them.
MYTH: "The goal of my resume is to get a job."
TRUTH: The goal is to meet face-to-face--with your resume handy.
The real goal of your job search is to get face-to-face with people in a room, possibly at professional events, and ultimately an interview that could lead to a job. When people see you in action, whether it's socializing or taking a position in a professional club—or just taking the initiative to shake a hand—they learn more about you than any resume could tell them. See the networking tips in this U.S. News article News and networking insights in this NPR article
MYTH: "Networking takes too much time and energy."
TRUTH: You only need to meet one person who needs the skills you have.
Just one professional event can allow you to meet many people at once. Even if one person doesn't have a job, they might know someone who does, and could refer you. A key search of "networking tips" can yield many insights.
MYTH: "They'll never see my social media--I have privacy settings."
TRUTH: Clean up your "private" and public social media presence + create a professional LinkedIn Profile
On average, there are only two degrees of separation between you and the person who will hire you. So, odds are, they will find out what's in your social media. And they tend to care a lot about it--particularly when it could be seen by their clients, some of whom probably already know you through someone else. Privacy settings don't mean much when the friends you already have are a big part of your network--many of them could already be interning for companies you want to target, for example. And anyone can put in a friend request. Consider your "private" social media to be public--and clean it up.
Create a fully populated LinkedIn profile that identifies you as a professional, not a "student." Show a professional headshot and background.
MYTH: "Tell me about yourself" means they want your life story.
TRUTH: You need a "30-second Elevator Speech"
At that point, you will want to be prepared to give your "30-second elevator speech" about your background and what you could contribute to their company. This is your answer to anyone who asks: "So, tell me about yourself." They're not asking for the year and place of your birth--they want to know your skills and goals. After that, you might hear the golden words: "Send me a resume."
MYTH: "I just need one resume."
TRUTH: Tailor your resume for each job prospect.
Tailor your resume for each prospect you encounter. Craft it to highlight the specific needs of that position.
MYTH: "I can have a generic cover letter."
TRUTH: Your cover letter needs to be customized to each recipient.
Your cover letter (email or email + snail mail) greets the person by name and says you enjoyed talking with them at (place you met, if you've met them). The email should acknowledge your familiarity with their business and highlight the skills and experiences you could contribute (i.e., why you think you'd be a good match). Last but not least, you need a call to action: "Would there be a convenient time for us to meet? I know your time is valuable and believe a brief meeting could demonstrate ways I could contribute to your team." Sincerely, (your name) and your signature that identifies you as a professional (e.g., Public Relations) and incudes a professional-looking email address and phone number, plus possibly a link to a portfolio and your LinkedIn page.
MYTH: "Follow-up emails will just annoy people."
TRUTH: Well-timed follow-up shows professionalism, desire, and salesmanship.
It's true you don't want to spam people or be annoying, but employers are busy and deluged with emails--and hiring is always squeezed in among other urgent responsibilities (an added burden). So they expect you to follow up if they don't reply to your first inquiry. Wait a week and if you don't hear from the person and then write a follow-up email that includes your original email in the thread at the bottom and a new message at the top. Something like this:
Follow-up Email Sample: "Hello, (Name), I enjoyed our chat at (place) and am just reaching out to follow up on last week's message to you. I know your time is valuable and believe a brief meeting could demonstrate ways I could contribute to your team at (name of company). For example (give a few examples from your last correspondence). What would be the best time to meet? Thank you once again for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you."
MYTH: "I'm good at winging interviews."
TRUTH: Interviewing requires preparation.
Be ready for interviews by searching for interview questions to rehearse and practicing them with friends and professionals. Wear professional clothes--it never hurts to overdress professionally for an interview so people know you can look your best when you need to--e.g., for a client meeting, etc. You'll find many interview tips online. Here's what not to say in an Interview.
MYTH: "I don't need help--I already know how to write a resume and conduct a job search."
TRUTH: Get a mentor.
Even experts have mentors and need perspective on their work. Learn the ins and outs of the expectations in your field through a mentor who can check your resume, help you make contacts, and provide feedback on your portfolio, online presence, correspondence--and, yes, even wardrobe. Contact a teacher or professional club for help. The job search world is full of many cultures. Expectations for resumes and job search practices vary from field to field.
MYTH: "It's who you know, not what you know."
TRUTH: It's both: Develop your skills and network.
While there are always exceptions, networking requires the ability to demonstrate hard skills a company needs so you can earn your pay. Unless someone owes you a favor (or the like), you'll need to develop strong skills in your classes for the positions you seek and network to meet potential employers by joining professional clubs, volunteering at events, etc. Internships can also provide proof that you have real-world work experience.
MYTH: "Nobody will want to help me."
TRUTH: People will want to help you if . . .
Employers remember what it was like when they had to find their first job, so they usually empathize and want to help students who are showing extraordinary effort to create outstanding portfolios and resumes, gain internship and leadership experience, and practice networking. At the same time, they're very busy, so if you have a mediocre portfolio and poorly designed resume, they're probably not going to want to invest more time in the relationship. "Help them help you" by working through the resume and portfolio tutorials ahead of time and seeking feedback from faculty before you put anything "out there." Even if you meet people who don't have job openings at the time, they probably know people who do--and if they are impressed with your work, they may refer you.
Landing your first professional job out of college can be challenging--but you will only do it once.After that, you will likely have a professional network to access for future jobs.
Summary of Steps
Clean up your social media presence to look professional
Write/rehearse your "30-second elevator speech": a quick summary of your potential contributions to a business.
Research articles, such as this NPR article on networking.
Target 10-12 businesses where you believe you would like to work, and learn about them.
Send a customized resume to the key decision-maker for each position you want.
Include a link to your online portfolio site if you have one
Request an interview through a cover letter (email) that formally greets the decision-maker by name
Follow up with correspondence if you don't hear back
Search online for interview questions and tips to rehearse
Practice interviewing with friends and professionals.