Apr 23

Conducting a Successful Job Search

Classes have been going well, you’ve participated in plenty of professional-development activities, and now you’re ready for the next step – the job search. Like everything else in your college career, you’ll find that your career search will be easier once you’ve found the right resources and created a plan. Here are some tips on getting started!

Utilize Online Resources

Did you know that the UNCG Career Services Center provides free online to help with your job search process?

The online platforms that are available to students are:

  • HandShake Create an account, build your professional profile, and then start using the portal to search for internships or full-time job opportunities. A wide range of employers post available positions to this site and share links to their websites – making it easy for students to explore details about the company. Once you have identified a job opportunity, you can apply directly through the portal. Handshake can also be used to search for networking events and opportunities taking place on campus.
  • Careershift – This resource is available for Bryan School students and alumni. The site allows students to search for companies with open jobs and internships within a specific industry, geographic location, or company size.

Remember, when applying for jobs it is important to utilize multiple job posting platforms.

Develop a Plan

Developing a plan before you start your job search makes the process a little easier. By identifying certain companies, industries, or geographic locations you can narrow and better define your search.

  • Identify geographic locations that you are targeting in your job search. Once you have identified these cities it is important to do your research. What types of industries are located in the area? What is the community like? What is a typical commute time? If you are relocating to the area it is important that you try and visit the city before you start your job search.
  • Different geographic locations and cities have different costs of living. As you begin to develop your plan, it is important to research the cost of living for your target geographic areas. The cost of housing, transportation, and utilities can vary from city to city.  CNN Money provides a calculator that will compare the cost of living between two cities.  
  • Develop a list of target companies. This list can include three sections: dream companies, target companies, and fallback companies. A target number for your total list can be between 5 – 10 companies. To start your list, identify and research companies that are within the industry you wish to work, the geographic location of the company, desired position types, and any other criteria that is important to you.

Create a Routine

The job search can be overwhelming and exhausting, which can lead to high stress and burnout in no time. Developing a consistent routine early on will help lessen some of these issues. One of the first things you should do is create new folders in the bookmarks tab section of your web browser to compile similar opportunities.To do this, you’ll need to decide on the most important factor in your search. Is it location? Make a folder for each target destination (e.g. Greensboro, Atlanta, Washington D.C.). Is it the company? Make a folder for different levels of interest (e.g. dream companies, target companies, fallback companies). Is it the position type? Make a folder for each desired position (e.g. data analyst, account manager, marketing assistant).

Then, within each of those folders, create hyperlinks to the pages, boards, and search engines that make sense for that folder. Try to link to specific areas to eliminate navigation time. For example, if you have specific job search engine parameters saved, link directly to them instead of the main search engine page.

This leads to the second thing you can do to establish a routine: Devote daily and/or weekly blocks of time to the job search. This includes searching through your folders, submitting applications, networking, attending events, and all other aspects. The best way to hold yourself accountable is to put the blocks of time on your calendar and set notifications/reminders. Finding the fine line between “desired” and “realistic” opportunities will be an important first step because you’ll want to divide up your time and effort accordingly to avoid burnout.  

Track EVERYTHING

Once you devise your plan and create a routine, you’ll need a quick and clean way to keep track of everything in one easily-accessible place. The tracking process might take more time on the front end of your search, but it will pay off in a huge way once you’re in the thick of the search. Most job searchers apply to double-digit jobs in a week, and it quickly becomes difficult to keep all of the people, places, and things organized in your mind.

Our suggestion? A spreadsheet. Whether it’s a Google Sheet, Excel workbook, or done by hand, this is a great way to document the major aspects of your application. There are some basic categories that you will want to have on there (e.g. company name, position title, location, and salary), but you can add columns for your personal wants and needs. Do you like hitting the gym right after work? Make a column titled “Gym nearby?”

Check out this example below to get an idea of what your spreadsheet could look like. Some of ours have been 20 columns, so get as detailed as you’d like!

Company NamePosition TitleLocationSalary RangeDate AppliedContact NameContact Email AddressLast ResponseJob Status

Last but not least, keep this in mind: The job search is a marathon, not a sprint. On average, only 2-10% of applicants make it to the final round of interviews. Rejection will happen, and that is OK! By utilizing resources and coming up with a strategy, you will be able to stay on top of things and take control of your search!


Written by Megan Parker, graduate student professional development specialist, and Tyler Wiersma, assistant director for undergraduate professional development.