The Job Search Can be Tough. Start Here.

Looking for a full-time job upon graduation? Or part-time while attending school? A summer job or internship? Treat every job search as a full-time job and focus on quality, not quantity.

Simply put: your best job search approach should answer these three questions.

1) Who Am I?

First and foremost, to find jobs that fit your qualifications, you need to start by identifying your skills, abilities, values and interests. Be careful to not overlook your transferable skills from previous experiences (part-time jobs, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, assignments, projects, etc.) that are relevant to the position you aspire to. That said, do not limit your options based solely on your degree, as your skills may be applicable to different opportunities beyond your major.

Consider self-assessment tools such as CAREERInsite, the ones from the University of Illinois and many others. And seek help from a career professional if any questions on the results.

2) What’s Out There?

Not familiar with what careers are out there? Explore careers by occupation or browse the National Occupation Classification. Keep in mind that around 80 percent of jobs in Canada are non-regulated occupations and requirements vary depending on the organizations.

Make a list of organizations using resources such as Canada’s Top Employers for Young People and Canada’s Best Jobs. Review industry data published by Statistics Canada, as it’s important to understand current trends and labour market information.

I hope by now you’re not too overwhelmed. At this point, you should have enough information to create a targeted resumé and cover letter. I did mention that job search is a full-time job, right? Hang in there – just one more step to go.

3) How Do I Get There?

The majority of opportunities (about 80 percent) are not published, meaning that jobs are filled without being publicly advertised. How? Well, only public institutions must publish vacancies, so hiring managers look for the most cost-effective way of acquiring talent, which usually means internal postings/referrals.  Actually, online job boards are the last resource for companies, even though they are the top choice for many jobseekers.

Access this “hiddenjob market by attending events held by professional associations, networking and connecting with alumni and hiring managers, using LinkedIn (PDF), Twitter or TenThousandCoffees. Then take it to the real world and build professional relationships by conducting information interviews.

Lastly, use your online time wisely and invest about 20 percent of it researching company career sites, Indeed, Talentegg, Career Edge and other resources.