Graduating Co-ops

Are you prepared for planning and conducting an effective job search? If not, now is the time to start!

An effective job search involves more then scanning newspapers ads or posted jobs on company web sites; it involves you being aware of what you offer an employer: your strengths, skills, abilities, interests and values. It involves understanding the labour market: researching work sectors and potential employers, identifying what they are looking for and matching your skills sets to theirs. It also involves having a concrete plan of action: map out what you need to do, set specific goals that you want to reach, and set up a tracking system to keep you on top of things and keep you organized.

The key to an effective job search includes the following:

Know yourself – Begin with a Self-Assessment

You are going to be selling yourself to prospective employers. In this respect you have to know yourself: your skills, abilities, values, and interests, before you can convince an employer that you are the ideal candidate.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What skills and abilities do I have to offer? What experiences can I draw from to demonstrate these skills and abilities?
  • What do I value most in a career or job? (i.e. job security, financial rewards, working as part of a team, geographic location)
  • What sets me apart from other applicants?
  • What are my major accomplishments. (Don’t be modest!)

Research Employers

After you have completed your self-assessment and you have a clear understanding what you offer, the next step is to research specific employers that match your identified skills, abilities, interest and values. To research employers use as many resources as possible (i.e. Web searches, UBC Career Centre, Professional Associations).

Plan Your Job Search

The next step is to plan your job search. Try setting a target date for getting a job and then decide how much time you can devote to your search. While you are in school full-time, your time will be limited, however, you should put as much time as you can into your job search. Get organized by setting time aside each week (minimum 8 hours) to work on your search. By having a target date you can use a weekly planner and work backward from your target date.

Update your resume and application letters that highlight your skills, abilities, interests and values that reflect the qualifications your target employers are looking for.

Conduct an “ACTIVE” Job Search

In an “active” job search you seek out openings before they are advertised. The majority of job openings (as high as 80%) are filled before they reach the advertising stage. An active job search involves meeting as many people as you can and targeting specific people that can help you find a job. Be proactive and make as many contacts as you can during your search.

Develop a Network:

  • Contact all the people you know and let them know you are looking for a job. Be specific about what you are looking for and your qualifications. (i.e. family, friends, professors, classmates)
  • Contact people within your profession or field of interest. These people will offer an insiders view and can provide leads to new contacts * Attend professional association meetings or events. Get involved!
  • Contact specific employers directly

Another method of conducting a job search is responding to advertisements either through the newspaper or web sites. This method is not the most effective but should also be included in your job search plan. When responding to advertisements ensure your resume and cover letter directly address the skills and qualifications the employer is asking for. Highlight what you offer the employer, not what you want from the employer.

Maintain A Job Search Record and Follow-up

No matter what job search method you use, it is critical that you maintain a record of all of your job search activities: people contacted, jobs you have applied for, referrals, and follow up actions.

Also, during your job search, ensure you follow up with thank-you letters and/or phone calls. It is critical that you stay in contact with the people you meet and nurture the relationship. You never know who will be able to help you or when you will be in a position to return the favour!

Be Persistent And Positive

Conducting a job search is hard work and there will be times when you will get discouraged. Be determined and optimistic. Your attitude will decide how successful your job search will be!

You are likely to hear many people tell you “no,” however it is that one “yes” that you are looking for. The one “yes” takes time and a lot of effort on your part. Take charge of your own job search and reap the rewards.