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Applying for Jobs

Five Tips for Your Job Search

1. do your research

  • Research career options and organizations before applying. There may be useful information to integrate in your application materials or in your interview answers.
  • Good sources for information include the organization’s website and social media presence.
  • Informational interviews and networking is the most direct way to learn more about employers and their hiring practices.


  • Posted Jobs: Apply directly to posted jobs on job boards like Handshake, HigherEdJobs, or Indeed.
  • Recruiting Events: Attend in-person recruiting events such as career fairs, information sessions, or networking events. (On-campus events can be found on Handshake)
  • Networking: Activate your network. Tell friends, family, colleagues, and professional contacts what you're looking for so they can connect you with people or alert you to unposted opportunities.


  • Schedule specific blocks of time each week to focus on aspects of the search. Try starting off with at least two blocks lasting at least sixty minutes each.
  • Each time block should focus on separate aspects of the search. For example, one day might be spent updating your application materials while another day may focus on networking and reading job ads. This will help you concentrate on those specific activities.
  • It’s okay to adjust! Change your dates, increase or decrease your activity, or even pause your search as new priorities emerge.

4. STAY organized

  • Keep track of each application. Try using a spreadsheet or maintain a log or file so you can keep track of key information and deadlines.
  • Do not rely on information remaining available online. Keep accessible records of the following:
    • The job posting and description
    • A copy of all application materials submitted
    • Notes from conversations with members of your network
    • Notes from interviews, including what questions were asked
    • Any additional information gathered about that employer


  • A job search can take months (sometimes years). Prepare for the long haul by setting good habits early and managing your expectations.
  • Rejection is inevitable. Try not to take it personally and use the experience to help you improve your search.
  • Stay flexible and open-minded. You may have to accept a “less than ideal” position. Do not let this discourage you; there are many different entry points into a meaningful careerTry to maintain an optimistic, self-confident, and realistic attitude when looking for a job.

Get Personalized Career Coaching

If you are a current graduate student or postdoc at the University of Illinois, you can schedule an appointment to meet with a career advisor to discuss job search strategy, application documents, and more.

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