By DeVry University
Once you’ve earned your degree, your next goal probably involves pursuing the job you’ve been dreaming of. But leaping forward in your career—or starting a new one—requires planning and commitment. We’ve put together some tried-and-true job search tips to help you get on the path toward success.
In today’s world, most job applications are submitted online. Thankfully, there are many websites—such as LinkedIn—where you can search, view and apply for numerous career opportunities. You can also create your own profile, highlighting your career successes, education background and other details for any recruiters who might be seeking out professionals with your unique qualifications.
If there is a specific company you know you want to work for, make it a point to regularly review their website as well. Many corporate websites provide up-to-date job postings and comprehensive information about the company. Acquiring knowledge about a potential employer is important in determining whether a career with that company might be a good fit, as well as providing insights you can use in an interview.
Simplify Your Résumé
In some cases, your résumé can make the difference between securing that all-important interview or getting passed over. This is why one of the most important job hunting tips is to make sure your résumé is in top form—both in format and appearance.
Do your current job title and responsibilities align with your new career objective? Are you trying to secure a position similar to your current job or looking to transition into a new field?
Generally, if you're seeking a position that's considered the next logical move up the organizational chart—where your current job title and skills are applicable to your desired position—a chronological résumé is best. If you're conducting a transition search—where your current job title and skills are not directly applicable to your objective—a skill-based résumé in which you highlight your achievements will likely be most effective.
While applications are generally submitted online, it's important to have a finely tuned and polished paper résumé to take to the interview. Consider the following tips:
- Pull keywords from the job description to add to your résumé along with personal and professional achievements to stand out.
- Avoid over-crowding by using ample margins and subheadings to increase readability.
- Proofread your résumé several times—and consider asking a friend to take a look as well.
- If you have minimal experience, keep your résumé to one page. Your résumé may become longer if you have held several relevant roles.
Learn How to Answer Difficult Interview Questions
While all interviews are different, it's important that you are prepared to answer some of the most common interview questions.
Tell me about yourself.
Sum up your résumé in 15 seconds. You graduated with a degree in ___ and earned a graduate degree in ___. You’re career-oriented and passionate about the ___ field. You have ___ hours of applications-based experience in the areas of ___ and ___. When asked “tell me about yourself,” present your portfolio (if you have one), explaining how it demonstrates the positive combination of education and skills needed for the position. Also, sell your soft skills—such as leadership, communication, organization and time management—while offering specific examples of each. This is a great opportunity to let your personal brand shine through.
Why should I hire you?
Approach this question in the same manner as “tell me about yourself.” Reiterate your strengths as well as your interest in the job and company and explain why you'd fit well into the organization and how you’d make a direct impact.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
When preparing for your interview, review your work experience and soft skills and prioritize those most applicable to the job you’re pursuing. When discussing strengths, talk about your top two or three. Be honest. Surprisingly, weaknesses can often be presented as a positive. Offer an example of a skill you know is relevant to the job and explain steps you're taking to enhance your performance in this area. For example, in sales it's important to be both adept at listening and aggressive in closing the deal. Thus, mention your strength in closing deals and steps you're taking to improve your listening skills. Showing that you know listening skills are important and are taking action to improve will be viewed as positive.
In what ways can you contribute to this company?
This question provides an excellent opportunity to sell yourself while using the knowledge you’ve learned about the organization. Relate your strengths to the company's mission, which you should have found during your job interview preparation. You might also discuss how you plan to become a team player dedicated to making positive contributions from day one.
Prepare Questions to Ask the Interviewer
An interview is a two-way street. While the interviewer is trying to determine how well you’d fit within the organization, you should also be thinking about how well the company and role align with your goals and values. Ask questions that will provide the information you need to thoroughly assess the job and the company. Questions might include:
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the position?
- Why is the position open?
- How would my performance be evaluated?
- To whom do I directly report?
- What are some challenges I might encounter in this position?
- What do you like most about the company?
- What are the company's plans for growth?
- What are some current issues and challenges facing the company?
- What is the typical career path for someone in this position?
- Is there a formal training program?
- How does the company encourage and support professional growth?
- What characteristics should a person possess to succeed in the company?
- How does this position interact or relate with others within the company?
Tackle Your Interview With Confidence
When it comes to interviewing, there are some basic things you already know you should bring along: a few copies of your résumé (or send it over beforehand if doing a virtual interview), any questions you might have about the company or position and a pen and paper to jot down relevant notes. But gathering these essential items is not the only preparation required. Here are a few more job hunting tips that can help you tackle your interview with confidence:
- Refresh Your Memory: Review your résumé, the job description and the company's website one last time before you arrive for your interview.
- Be On Time: If possible, do a dry run so you know how to get to your destination. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to check in and collect your thoughts.
- Introduce Yourself: Always treat any company personnel you interact with—including front desk staff—with respect. This is the first impression you'll make.
- Use Strong Interpersonal Skills: When you meet the interviewer be sure to smile, introduce yourself, use a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact.
If you’re preparing for a virtual interview for the first time, don’t fret. Many of the concepts above still apply. In addition, don’t forget to tidy up your interview space and test out your technology in advance.
Post-Interview Job Search Tips
After your interview and while the conversations are still fresh in your mind, jot down your answers to questions such as:
- Will I be developing as a professional?
- Do the organization's philosophies and values match mine?
- Are there opportunities to advance within the company?
- Would I like the daily responsibilities of the job?
- Are the expectations for the position realistic?
- Could I work well with my manager and learn from him or her?
- How will the demands of the job (such as hours and travel) affect my family or lifestyle?
Within 24 hours of your interview, you should also:
- Follow Up: Send a brief email to everyone you spoke with thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in the company. This is an opportunity to further your relationship with a potential hiring manager by reinforcing your understanding of the position and your ability to excel in the role. It allows you to further sell yourself and demonstrate your communication skills. Don’t have email addresses for the individuals you met with? It’s ok. Simply send your note to the HR manager you worked with and kindly ask them to pass it along.
- Contact Your References: If you submitted references, be sure to call them yourself and inform them of a possible contact from the company. Tell your references the attributes the company is seeking and ask that they try and reinforce your strengths in those areas.
- Contact Your Recruiter: If you've used a recruiter, call him or her to obtain any feedback they might have received from the company and to let them know how you think the interview went.
- Continue Your Job Search! Don’t sit and wait to hear back from jobs or recruiters. Continue to search and apply for other open positions.
Accepting a Job Offer
If a company extends a job offer, you should accept or reject it within 48 hours. Asking for more time may give the impression that you are uncertain about the role or likely to accept a different offer. Nothing is official until you formally accept the job. Therefore, begin evaluating the job and the company the moment you begin the interview—don’t wait until an offer is presented.
Salary Research & Negotiation Tips
Salary research relevant to the industry and type of position you're pursuing is a critical part of the job search process. However, be aware that many factors affect compensation including:
- Type of employer
- Salary range established by the company for the position
- Your current compensation (in some states)
- Company size
- Benefits offered
- Corporate philosophy
- Competition in the field
- Geographic location
- The skillset you bring to the job
To the extent possible, find information that correlates with your education and experience level. Also, be sure to consider cost of living when comparing positions in different geographic areas. Consulting the website for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is always a good place to start.
While an abundance of helpful salary information is available online, be sure to use this salary research merely as a benchmark.
- Never cite a salary survey when negotiating your own compensation. Keep in mind that salaries cited in many surveys are often just median figures, meaning half of those surveyed make more and half make less.
- When negotiating salary, ask what range of salary the company is prepared to pay for the position. Then be prepared to demonstrate how you will add value to the team with your professional experience and educational background to earn an offer at the higher end of their range.
- In some states, potential employers may be allowed to take your current salary into consideration when making you an offer. If asked what you currently make, be honest.
- Let the company make the initial salary offer. After this, either accept the offer or formulate a salary negotiation strategy.
Get Career Services Support
As a DeVry student, you are offered career services support from the moment you begin your first class. Our certified résumé writers and career coaches are here to help you with refining your résumé, practicing for interviews and providing job search tips.1 These services also continue after graduation. Contact us to see how we can help you pursue your goals.
1Our Certified University Career Coaches are certified by The Academies (www.theacademies.com). Our Certified Professional Résumé Writers are certified by the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (https://parwcc.com/page/CPRW)