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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Effective Job Search

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Components of the Job Search

Searching for a job is something that everyone . . . at some point . . . or at several points in his/her life will do. It is the end result of years of education. It is a visible symbol of reaching goals and individual success. It should be a very natural process. But it is not. Mention the term “job search” and the reactions range from a blank stare to general terror to confusion. It is one of the most important life processes. Yet most people spend more time planning their vacation than planning their job search! Whether you are looking for your first part-time job or internship or a long-term career position, the concepts are the same. The following information comes from the MSU Job Search Handbook.

The job search is a process with the following distinct stages:

Self Assessment & Goal-Setting

Self-assessment and goal-setting are very important to the job search. They keep a person focused . . . but most importantly, help the individual to be ready to grab an opportunity when it arises. During this stage of the process, it is important for the job seeker to identify the following:

  • Individual Strengths
  • Skills
  • Interests/Activities

Marketing Tools

How do you market yourself to employers? In short, job seekers must identify selling points, decide on a method by which to communicate them to the target market and compose that communication effectively. The "job seeker," makes use of certain tools to communicate his/her selling points. The two most common ways to do this are through a resume and a cover letter. The resume is the tool that gives the employer an overview of the applicant's education, experience, skills and accomplishments. The purpose of the resume is to secure an interview, not a job! The cover letter is an introduction to the resume. It allows the applicant to highlight one or two important talents or achievements that qualify him/her for the position he/she is applying for. The purpose of the cover letter is to generate interest on the part of the employer, which then leads to him/her wanting to read the resume to learn more about the candidate. The following are common marketing tools utilized in the job search:

  • Resume
  • Recommendation Letters/References
  • Cover Letters
  • Other items often dependent on field (ex. transcript, certifications, portfolio, writing sample, etc.)

Researching the Market

  • Networking & Informational Interviews
  • Job Search Resources

Interviewing for Success

We have all heard the expression, "You only get one chance to make a first impression." When it comes to the job interview, these words could not be more accurate. Preparation is key! The following criteria can assist the candidate in preparing for the interview process:

  • Visual Effect
  • Interviewing Techniques and Sample Questions
  • Behavior-based Interviewing
  • The Thank-You Letter
  • Job Offers

MSU Junior/Senior Year Job Search Checklist

(from the MSU Career Success Guide)

Junior Year:

Relate interests, abilities and values to possible career choices and gain experience.

Career Development

Academic and Extracurricular

Senior Year:

Job Search; Identify and apply for jobs or decide on graduate work

Career Development

Academic and Extracurricular

  • Continue networking with professionals in your field of interest.
  • Sign up for the Alumni Mentoring Program.
  • Meet with your advisor regarding graduation requirements.
  • Identify your references.
  • Stay active in the community and on campus as well as in professional organizations.

CDC Online Job Search Workshop for New Graduates

Job Market & Employability Information

Selected Resources for More Information