Applying for Jobs
Once you’ve found job leads of interest, apply by following the employer's instructions. Some employers require an application form in addition to a cover letter and resume. Others will ask for a statement of purpose, or other documents such as letters of reference. If you have questions about the application process, it’s a good idea to call the organization to clarify rather than risk mistakes.
Here are a few key reminders:
While it’s important to meet the application deadline, it’s worth a call to the organization to ask if they will still accept your application if you find the perfect opening a few days late. It is critical to send your materials immediately once you receive permission, so be sure to have an up-to-date resume and a good basic cover letter ready at all times.
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Keeping records of your submitted applications, follow-up calls, interviews, and any approaching deadlines requires good organizational skills. Your calendar will become your best friend during a job search as you track appointments, apply for jobs, and write thank you letters. There are many different ways to keep track of this information; devise a system that works for you to stay on top of your commitments.
Allotting Enough Time
You should be putting as much time as possible into your job search. Try to save purely social contacts for after you have completed your job search work for the day. If you must take a part-time or full-time job to support yourself while you search for your ideal job, try to find one that allows you several hours daily during normal working hours to meet with your networking contacts and attend job interviews.
Keeping a Positive Outlook
There are several tactics for keeping a positive outlook during a job search. One important strategy to keep from feeling stalled is to always have one or two activities going on—it’s when you have no active leads, applications, or calls outstanding that you are tempted to feel defeated. Keep applying for jobs, calling for networking appointments, and attending professional meetings to add to your growing list of job search activities. Staying active and energetic will help to keep your spirits up and increase your chances of finding the perfect job quickly.
It’s said that approximately 80 to 85 percent of jobs nationwide are filled through networking before being advertised. Simply put, one of the most powerful ways to find a job is through networking, and if you’re referred by a contact to a potential employer you’ll likely have a greater chance of being hired.
Although many people are uneasy about networking, it’s the only way to allow more people to know who you are and what you have to offer, and to keep their ears open for opportunities. Having contacts that can let you know when they hear of a promising opening, pass your resume along to a friend or colleague, or put in a good word for you is never a bad thing.
Networking activities include:
The first step is to make a list of everyone you know that is in any way related to the work you hope to do, and the organizations where you hope to do it. Include faculty and alumni contacts from SFAI, as well as from any previous colleges you attended, in addition to acquaintances, friends, family—including your parents' friends and the parents of your friends—who might have connections to those organizations. In short, your list should include the names of anyone who might be able to help.
Reaching out to your contacts is often difficult the first time you do it, so start with the lowest-risk and most approachable people on your list. This will give you a chance to practice your networking skills before tackling the more difficult contacts on your list.
The purpose of reaching out is to set up a meeting with each contact who is willing and available—at their office if it’s a business contact or at a more social location if it’s a friend or acquaintance. Keep your call or message fairly simple, and be sure to mention:
Lastly, ask to set up a meeting time at a place that is convenient for your contact. For those who are busy, ask to follow-up in a week or two. Most people are happy to help if you’re sensitive to their schedules and make it easy for them.
At the meeting, your agenda is to tell them what you’re seeking, ask for advice on how to go about looking for such a job, and determine if they have additional contacts you might pursue. Your goal is to turn each contact into at least one other contact. As your network grows, the chance that you’ll hear of an interesting opportunity increases exponentially.