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Applying for Jobs

Although it is tempting to jump headfirst into your job search, taking time to think, learn, and strategize will improve your results.

Six Tips for a Successful Job Search

1. Reserve blocks of time each week to focus on your job search.

  • Set realistic daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
  • Strive to meet these objectives. For example, plan to make a certain number of phone calls, mail a specified number of letters and résumés, and follow up on a finite number of leads per week.
  • Keep thorough records, including an appointment calendar and a detailed log of calls, emails, and follow-up activities.

2. Research—online and in person.

3. Use multiple job search strategies.

The most effective job searches use multiple strategies, not just one. Try a combination of these approaches:

4. Get organized.

You will likely be applying to many different positions, and you need to keep track of the different details associated with each application. Plan how you will manage dates and details BEFORE you begin. It can be helpful to create an Excel spreadsheet or maintain a log or file so you can keep track of key information and deadlines.
In addition to your spreadsheet or notebook, keep a dedicated file folder (electronic or paper) for each position to which you apply. Keep track of details such as:
  • The position announcement
  • A copy of all application materials submitted
  • Notes about any conversations with members of the search committee
  • Notes from interviews and relevant telephone conversations
  • Additional information gathered about that institution
  • Offer or rejection letters
  • A copy of your letter of acceptance or rejection

5. Be realistic.

  • Try to maintain an optimistic, self-confident, and realistic attitude when looking for a job.
  • Prepare for a long job search, especially during difficult economic times, and expect the process to last anywhere from four to eight months.
  • Rejection is inevitable, so be prepared. Try not to take it personally and seek out feedback that will help you improve your search.
  • Depending on your experience and field, you may have to start with an entry-level position. Do not let this discourage you; this may be a great opportunity to enter a new field.

6. Career serendipity.

  • Be flexible and open-minded.
  • You never know where an opportunity will lead, so take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.
  • Just because the organization or the job is not exactly what you envisioned, don't write it off automatically. Do your research first.

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.

Schedule an Appointment