Job Search Process and Resources

Gies Campus Recruiting Timeline

Before beginning the internship or job search process, it's useful to be aware of key times when employers are seeking to engage with students.   This graphic highlights the typical process and timeline for campus recruitment activities.

It's best to be prepared to kick off your internship/job search in the fall semester by attending the career fair and employer showcases, but understand that for some roles and industries recruitment continues well into the spring semester as well.

Your Job Search

An effective job search requires a lot of preparation, research, and persistence. These job search strategies can help position yourself to impress potential employers. Before you start the job search process, ensure that you understand the recruiting cycle and understand your responsibilities as a Gies student.

1. Identify Your Interests and Criteria

Before you can begin the job search process you must first know what jobs you are interested in.  Use self-assessments and industry research to  learn about and target job functions, industries and geographic locations that interest you.

Second, it's important to understand your search criteria.   Be honest with yourself about what is important in your career and personal life.   Common search criteria are:

  • how well the job content corresponds to your interests/skills
  • prospects for advancement
  • training opportunities
  • location
  • growth potential for that industry/performance in down economy
  • corporate culture/affinity groups
  • work/life balance

After generating your search list criteria, create a list of 10-20 organizations with whom you are most interested in working. To find out which employers other Gies students are interested in, visit our Career Pages for each academic major.

To learn more about these companies, visit company websites, LinkedIn or Glassdoor.  Speak with other students or alumni about their experience with these organizations.

These organizations should get most of your attention.  Read through the job descriptions posted on Handshake and make a list of desired skills for these organizations and the positions that are of interest to you.  This will ensure that you match the criteria the employers are looking for.

2. Prepare Your Materials (and Yourself!)

You only have one opportunity to make a first impression with a potential employer, so make sure that impression is a good one!

Follow the SORR resume guidelines to create your powerful resume.   And before you launch into your job search, make sure that you have your elevator pitch, cover letter, and résumé thoroughly reviewed by Career Services.

Practice your interviewing skills by utilizing resources such at Big Interview or schedule a mock interview with BCS.  Learn more about interviewing here.

Scroll down further to learn how to develop your elevator pitch.

3. Find and Apply for Opportunities

Begin by exploring job boards like Handshake @ Illinois for positions that you wish to apply for.  It's important to "favorite" the employers that you are interested in so that you receive notifications about jobs they have posted or events that they are hosting.    This will ensure that you don't miss out on an opportunities!

The Department of Labor estimates that up to 80% of positions are pulled without employer advertising. If you are relying on job postings as your primary job search strategy, you're only seeing approximately 20% of what's out there.

Once you have identified potential positions, apply promptly following all instructions (some jobs require that you apply on the company website, others use Handshake).  As you apply for jobs, make sure to keep track of what you have applied for, the timeline of the applications and any deadlines.  Utilizing a spreadsheet to manage your applications is a good idea.

4. Attend Events and Network

Your network is probably the most valuable resource that you'll have at your disposal. This includes your friends, family, former colleagues, and professional connections.

It's much more likely that you will land your next job through someone in your network than just through an online listing, so it's essential to leverage this invaluable resource.

Talk with recent grads from your major about the job market, employment opportunities and seek their advice about potential employers.

Connect with alumni in your field (find them on LinkedIn)

Attend info sessions, networking events, workshops and other events where you can talk with recruiters and professionals. Developing personal contacts at the organizations you want to work for will increase the success of your job search immensely.

5. Your Virtual Job Search

Many elements of a virtual job search are similar to those of an on-campus job search. For more tips, please review our Virtual Job Search Guide.

6. Receiving a Job Offer and Offer Negotiation

When you have received an offer, be sure to respond in a timely manner.  Take time to carefully consider an offer, review these guidelines to professionally accept, decline or negotiate an offer.

Elevator Pitch

You can use your elevator pitch to introduce yourself at career fairs, networking events and mixers. If you're attending professional association programs and activities, or any other type of gathering, have your pitch ready to share with those you meet

Using an Elevator Pitch at a Career Fair or Recruiting Event

Your elevator pitch should describe who you are, what you have to offer, and what you would like to do -- in about 30 seconds. You should conclude with a question for the company representative but remember to do your homework. Don't ask a question that you could easily find the answer to by visiting their website, such as where their headquarters are located.

What to Include in Your Pitch

1. Who you are, plus a credential. Your name and something that differentiates you from your peers and/or establishes a relationship (graduate of same college, from the same hometown, etc.).

2. Your specific goal/career interest. This will allow that person to help you or possibly connect you to someone who can.

3. How you have demonstrated your interested OR why you are qualified. Demonstrate your interest and experience in the field with examples of things you have already completed. Demonstrate your qualifications by sharing leadership and work experience, achievements, expertise, skills and strengths.

4. A question or request for assistance, depending on the situation you are using the pitch. For example at a Career Fair you might ask, "Can you tell me more about the culture of our organization?" and at an event you might ask: "Perhaps we could meet for coffee to discuss your career path and opportunities in the marketing profession."

Job Search Tips

Follow these tips when exploring online job boards:

Leverage Multiple Job Boards:

Not all employers post their positions in Handshake or on third-party job boards so be sure to search both

Refine Your Search:

In addition to keywords, use filters for industry, major, job function, location, etc. to find positions that most closely match your qualifications and interests

Set Up Email Alerts:

Favorite positions on Handshake so you get reminders about the application deadline and set up email alerts on third party job boards so you learn about new postings that meet your criteria

Watch Out for Scam Postings:

If a job posting seem fake, or if you are asked to complete tasks atypical of the application process (e.g. paying a fee), then report the job posting to career services so we can research to determine if it is legitimate