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Job Search Guide

For Full-time, Part-Time, Internship, and Volunteer Positions

Have you ever heard the phrase "looking for a job is a full-time job"? Well, it can be and frequently is if done right. However, most people dedicate more time to looking for that perfect gift for a loved one than to their own job search. Then they wonder why they haven't found that "perfect" job. Job searches for that "perfect" job often take 6-18 months. However, factors that influence how long it may take include:

  • How many hours per week you invest.
  • If you're using the most effective searching and marketing strategies.
  • Availability of the jobs you're looking for.
  • Geographic and other preferences.

For example, unemployed jobseekers can spend 40-60 hours per week in a job search. Employed jobseekers may be able to dedicate only 10 hours per week. If all other aspects of their job search are the same, it could take the employed jobseeker 4-6 times as long to complete the job search. The following techniques, if applied to their fullest, can improve your job search success.

Step 1: Clarify Your Job Search

A necessary part of a successful job search is to first explore yourself. Having a clear understanding of your interests, values, skills, work style and work environment preferences will help you to:

  • Identify career areas, specific positions, and environments that will best reflect your attributes.
  • Understand and market your skills and strengths.
  • Develop your resume and prepare for interviews.
  • Clarify questions to ask and information to seek in the interviewing process to determine if the position will meet your immediate and/or long-term needs.

Use the Matching Careers to Self-Exploration section for online surveys and CDC resources which will assist you in clarifying your interests, values, skills, and personality and identifying careers and environments that best fit you.

Step 2: Research Career Options and Focus Career Goals

It is important to thoroughly research careers you are already considering as well as new careers identified through self-exploration in step 1. Comprehensive career research will help you to:

  • Identify additional careers and work environments that you were not previously aware of.
  • Narrow down career options to focus your job search.
  • Determine skills and knowledge from your education and experiences that are most relevant to highlight in your resume and in interviews.

Use the Researching Careers & Majors section for online and CDC resources which will assist you in researching careers and focusing your career goals.

Step 3: Develop Resumes and Prepare for Interviews

Now that you have clarified what you want in a career and/or specific position, researched and identified careers and work environments, and focused your job search goals, it's time to market yourself. Well-written resumes and effective interviews focus on what is most relevant to the employer about your education and experiences. Dedicate time to developing a focused resume for each type of position you apply for as well as practicing interviewing techniques. Don't wait until you have scheduled interviews to begin to hone your skills.

Use the Resume & Cover Letter Development section for guidelines, writing techniques, and examples.

Use the Interviewing Techniques section for online and CDC resources on interviewing techniques, styles, and questions.

Step 4: Identify Advertised Position Openings

Surveys indicate that advertised openings represent at most 15-20% of all jobs available. Even though these positions represent a small portion of opportunities they are easiest to identify and therefore the most responded to by jobseekers. While it is still worthwhile to pursue these openings, it is recommended that you spend only 5-20% of your job search time focusing on them.

Use the Advertised Job Openings section for information on online, UWM, and community resources for identifying advertised full-time, part-time, internship, and volunteer positions.

Step 5: Identify Unadvertised Position Openings

Experts state that up to 85% of jobs are never advertised. These unadvertised positions are referred to as the "hidden" job market. Use the following techniques to access these hidden jobs.

Direct Application

Direct application refers to the process of sending your resume and cover letter to organizations or companies of interest without waiting for an advertised job opening. To identify these organizations and locate appropriate contact information utilize various types of directories. These include career specific directories such as the Classified Directory of Wisconsin Manufacturers and broader directories such as the yellow pages. You will also want to consult directories that list directories such as the Directory of Directories which can be found in public libraries. Be sure to ask the librarian for additional suggestions.

Informational Interviewing and Networking

Informational interviewing and networking can be used to gain information about locating jobs. Integrate into your job search the practice of asking people for information about job leads and developing a web of people from which to gather information about job opportunities. Some people you informational interview and network with you may speak with only once, others you will maintain long-term contact with. Informational interviewing and networking should be done with friends, family, professionals, and others. This is the most powerful technique to get that "perfect" job. Use the Informational Interviewing and Networking section for information on how to identify people, make contact, and maintain a network.

Step 6: Followup

Following up after making that initial contact with an organization is something most jobseekers are reluctant to do. Many feel as if they are being a pest. Actually the person who gets the job is frequently the one who makes two, three, four, or more follow-up calls. If you feel uncomfortable calling back, you could ask, "Is it okay if I call back in two weeks to check again?" This persistence demonstrates your enthusiasm, interest, and professional skills.


Step 7: Maintain an Organizational System

An organizational record keeping system is a crucial aspect of the job search. It will help you keep track of your network of contacts, dates and follow up information, and job search goals.

Have a system to record and organize the following:

  • Names, dates, and times of informational interviews.
  • Job advertisements for jobs applied for.
  • Dates you applied for jobs and when to make follow up contact.
  • Names, dates, and times of job interviews.
  • Names of people to network with.
  • Dates of follow up contacts made.
  • Daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
  • Rewards you give yourself for reaching your goals.

Which organizational system you choose is up to you. There are many methods and various aspects of a job search to organize. Many books in the CDC Career Information Library provide suggested forms and techniques to organize your search.