How to Find a Job

A lot of elements go into finding a job: Networking, résumés, cover letters and research. And when it comes to finding (and hopefully landing) the right job, you want to make sure you're addressing every aspect of a thorough job search.

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Consider what kind of career you want

Research different career fields to see what interests you. Start by using the search tool on this site, which lets you search by industry, salary, degree required and more.

Assess your strengths and interests

A career that suits your strengths will help you do your best work. Try using a personal assessment tool such as the ASVAB Career Exploration Program to help identify your specific skills.

Reach Out to People You Know

With approximately 80 percent of job seekers finding employment through networking, one of the best ways to land your first job, or any job for that matter, is to be referred by someone you know. Tell your family, friends and neighbors what interests you and what kind of job you're looking for. They can help connect you to people who are in your career field of interest.

Be sure to follow up with everyone and schedule meetings, even if you're simply asking for information. During the meeting, ask the person how he or she started out. Be honest and be yourself; the rest should come naturally. And don't forget to thank anyone who helps you, even for the smallest of favors. Developing and maintaining these relationships is known as networking. It's a powerful tool, and it works.

Check Out Job Listings

Job listings are everywhere: online, trade magazines, newspapers and even on the bulletin board of your local coffee shop. It's worth it to read them all; not only will it give you a good sense of what's out there, but it will open your eyes to opportunities you might not have considered otherwise.

The internet may be your greatest job resource. Many websites, ranging in scope from local to national, focus on career planning and job searching. Here are a few sites where you can get started:

To find something specific, try searching the Web for words or phrases related to your field, like "photography jobs" or "engineering internship." Finally, some companies post job openings on their company website as opposed to job posting sites. Identify companies you would like to work for and visit the job openings page of their websites, too.

Establish a Professional Social Presence

Social networks have become a helpful resource for job hunters and employers alike. Use social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn to make inside connections that will help you discover jobs you won't find in traditional postings.

Start by creating a profile that summarizes your academic accomplishments and career goals on a career-focused social network like LinkedIn. Then build your network by connecting with friends, teachers, neighbors and former colleagues (if you’ve previously had a job).

Your network will consist of your connections and your connections' extended networks, so reach out to as many people as you can. The more connections you make, the more friends-of-a-friend you can meet, and the better your chances of finding a contact that can fill you in on or set you up with a career opportunity.

This might seem obvious, but it's wise to "clean up" your social networking profiles. Most employers search the web for information on candidates, and you don't want them to see something that sheds an unflattering light on you. Anything that you wouldn't want your parents or teachers to see is probably something you don't want future employers to see, whether it's a picture, video, offensive language or other inappropriate content.

Speak With a Recruiter

Depending on what stage you're at in your career and what kind of field you want to get into, you may want to employ the help of a recruiter—someone who works with companies and organizations to help them find new employees and works with you to find you a job. Some recruiters work only with seasoned professionals, but there are recruiting agencies that place employees at all levels. Fields that often use recruiters to find new employees include accounting, marketing and legal and financial services.

Using a recruiter costs you nothing, since the hiring company pays the fee. Recruiters can provide you with information on unadvertised jobs and can tap into their lengthy contact list on your behalf. Plus they will save you time, since they do most of the legwork. Helpful websites for locating recruiters include:

Prepare Your Application Materials

Having a polished résumé is key to getting a job. Creating your résumé will also help further organize and refine your career goals.

You will want to have a list of references ready. Reach out to past employers, teachers or mentors who can speak to your work ethic and experience, and make sure you have their permission to list them as references. Keep an active list of your references' names, phone numbers and email addresses, and the employers where you worked together. Avoid using your parents, guardian or friends as references, as they will appear biased. Also, leave off anyone you don't get along with or jobs you've been fired from.

Finally, start to prepare for interviews in advance by reading up on best practices and role-playing with a friend. Job interviews will make or break your career search, so it doesn't hurt to start practicing your pitch.

Related Resources


Creating Your Résumé

Follow this step-by-step guide to creating this important document.

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Building a Career Network

Sharpen your skills and meet people who can help you get your next job.

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Job Interview Tips

Find out what to do before, during and after your interview.

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