University of Tampa
Career Services Department
STRATEGIES & TACTICS
The vast majority of available jobs are not advertised or posted online. Instead, 70-80% are obtained through networking, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A key search of "networking tips" can yield many insights. See the networking tips in this U.S. News article News and networking insights in this NPR article It might be tempting to sit back at a computer and send out mass mailings and postings, but returns can be bleak.
The real goal is to get face-to-face with people in a room, particularly an interview and possibly first at professional events. 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.
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. After you meet someone, they might say, "Send me a resume."
At this point, you'll tailor the resume to meet the specific needs this person has discussed. Attach it to a personalized cover letter that greets the person by name and links to your outstanding portfolio. The cover letter should also highlight the skills and experiences you could contribute to the work the person needs to have done.
Now you're a "warm" contact rather than a stranger on a piece of paper. Follow up contact when you don't hear back. If you do meet for an interview, you will already know each other.
Meanwhile, research the top companies where you believe you'd like to work and contact key decision-makers there. 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.).
Remember to clean up your social media presence to look professional (you may think it's private, but you'd be surprised how companies gain access and disqualify job candidates).
Be ready for interviews by searching for interview questions to rehearse and practicing them with friends and professionals. You'll find many interview tips online.
Stay positive! 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
Request an interview through a cover letter that formally greets the decision-maker by name
Follow up with correspondence if you don't hear back
Search online for interview questions to rehearse
Practice interviewing with friends and professionals.
People 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.