Starting Your Job Search

You've decided that you need to find an internship or a full-time job, but where do you start? Many people go right to job boards, trying to muddle through a sea of semi-relevant postings. You might find one useful posting for every 20 that aren't helpful.

"None of these postings sound like something I want to do."

"This one requires more experience than I have; this one I'm overqualified for."

"All of these seem vaguely interesting, but I don't know how to narrow it down."

Here's a tip to save you some effort: going straight to job boards, or spending too much time looking at them, is one of the easiest ways to waste time in your job search. Job boards will serve some purpose in your search, but here are three things you should consider before diving in:

Your story

It's hard to know what to look for, or how well you qualify for a position, if you haven't taken some time to reflect on what you actually want, or understand what you bring to the table as a candidate. For most people, neither of these things is easy to realize or readily apparent. Careful consideration of your skills, interests, and background -- your story -- is an important step to take when you start to think about your job search.

Your community

Sometimes job postings use cryptic language, or don't give you much information to go on. Other times, you think you qualify for a position, but aren't totally confident that you understand what they're looking for. Reaching out to all your communities -- family & friends, former co-workers, UM alumni, and even your friendly neighborhood career center -- can provide an opportunity to get those sorts of questions answered. In fact, with UCAN (our new University Career Alumni Network), you can search for and connect with U-M alumni who have volunteered to chat with current students about all things career-related!

Your presentation

You might already have a resume, but that's only part of the equation. Whether you're talking about a resume, a cover letter, or the way you describe yourself in an interview, it's helpful to focus in on the things that your audience most wants to hear. Don't take an approach where you tell them everything that could possibly be relevant; throwing everything at the wall and hoping that something sticks is not a viable plan. It's important to carefully consider what you are (and are not) presenting to an employer, in addition to how you are presenting it.

This only scratches the surface of what it means to consider your story, your community, and your presentation. These three components make up the i•Plan, our framework for helping you prepare for a successful career beyond Michigan. Our career coaches are available to help you think about your progress with the i•Plan, knowing where to start, and how to best spend your time in your job search. Happy hunting!