First, it is important to have a good idea about what kind of job you are looking for specifically, rather than looking for general positions that might match some of your skills and interests. If you are not sure what you are looking for, now is the time to figure it out. Research the kinds of jobs that might interest you, and write down what you like about each job, and how your skills may apply.
Identify skills that you think you have, or that you would like to use in your job. Think of some things you have done in which you may have used skills that you would also like to use in your prospective job. Stories that you can think of in which you used such skills may also be helpful to remember during interviews.
Many job hunters make the mistake of only using the internet or newspapers for searching for jobs. This can be very useful to research information about a company you are interested in, or looking for companies in the area of your interest, but using job search engines are not the most efficient way to find a job. Statistics show that about 80% of the jobs that are available are not advertised! This is exactly the reason why it is a good idea to know more specifically what kind of a position you are looking for, so you can apply at places that have a similar position, even though they may not have any advertised jobs. Be persistent, but not nagging. Call the employer periodically (about once every week or two) to see if they have any positions that might be opening. If you stay fresh in the employers mind, you may be the first person they think of when something does open up. It saves them a lot of time and money to find someone before they have to go through the hassle of recruiting and looking at resumes and facilitating several interviews, so you already have an upper hand in that company if a position opens.
Nowadays, most people will tell you that when searching for a job, who you know is more important than what you know. Naturally, it is essential to make contacts and create a network of people whom you know, and who know that you are looking for a job. There are several ways to expand your network. First, start with the people you already know. Parents, family, friends, and professors are a good start. Let them know what you are looking for, and remind them to keep their eyes and ears open for you. Another great resource is alumni. The Career Center at Linfield has a complete list of alumni and their current job titles. Often they are very willing to help a Linfield student, and they may have contacts of their own that may be able to help you. Another way to make contacts is to set up informational interviews.
View our Informational Interviewing Brochure for information on the subject.
An excellent way to get in the door of a company that you are very interested in is to set up an informational interview. Here are some informational interviewing tips. The purpose of such an interview is to gather information about a position that you may be interested in. A good way to find contacts for informational interviews is to use the phone book of the area that you are interested in. Research the company to find out who specifically you would like to talk to, and to know a little about their job before you meet them.
Call the company and ask to speak with the person you researched. Once you have them on the phone, inform them of who you are and what you are doing, and ask them if you may have about 15 minutes of their time to come in to their office and speak with them about their position. Emphasize that you are not looking for a job, but that you want to gather information to get a better idea of what positions are out there, and what you would like to do. Several people you call may not be willing to help you, but don't be put off by a "no" answer, because the more people you call, the more people will say yes.
When somebody agrees to meet with you, write down their name, job title, where they are located, what time you should meet, and what is the appropriate attire for their workplace. Also note their phone number and extension if applicable, and it might be a good idea to get their e-mail address as well, so that you may send a confirmation e-mail to confirm the meeting. Don't forget to give them your contact information also, so that if they have further questions they know how to get a hold of you.
When going to the interview, be punctual, and remember that it is better to be early than late. Have a list of questions ready to ask, but don't necessarily stick to a script. Possible questions to ask are:
Play off of their answers, and only look at your notes if you reach a pause in the conversation. Remember to be very professional in your attitude, the words you use, and your appearance. When the interview is finished, thank them for their time, and ask for a business card. Within a few days after the interview, send them a quick thank you card thanking them again for their time, and relate to something you talked about during the interview.
Check up with everyone you have contacted periodically to see how things are.