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Job Search Strategies

To successfully market yourself to prospective employers, you need to know

  1. The skills, knowledge, attitudes and experience each employer is looking for, and
  2. The skills, knowledge, attitudes and experience you offer.

The connections among these components, along with your energy and interest in the role and the field, must be brought together in your application materials and interviews. The following tips will help you get started.

Think about what you enjoy doing, what you've accomplished, what interests you and why. Remind yourself of your successes and the projects, classes, and activities in which you've been most engaged and at your best.

Research a variety of fields and entry-level jobs.
Browse our library, explore online resources for general and field-specific industry information and review job descriptions in E-Access.

Connect and talk with professionals who work in your field(s) of interest.
Most people enjoy talking about their work and offering advice to those starting out, and these connections will build your professional network. Smith alumnae can be an excellent source of advice and information (find them in the Alumnae Directory; a career advisor at the Lazarus Center can help you get started) . Ask faculty, former supervisors, friends, and family to suggest others with whom to talk. If you've seen an article about someone, read a bio on a website, heard her/him speak, or read her/his work, email or write to request an informational interview.

Decide how you'd like to start your career.
Focus on planning your initial career steps after Smith, not your entire career. What issues, problems, or settings do you want to engage with first? Careers take shape over time, and unplanned detours may lead to unexpectedly great opportunities. Many graduates find success and satisfaction in careers not directly related to their academic majors.

Choose a target location.
You may have first and second choices, but beyond these it may be difficult to search effectively in several geographic regions at the same time.

Ensure your online presence is professional.
Get your LinkedIn profile ready. Review your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and remove compromising photos or video, if necessary. Google your name. Employers and networking contacts will, too.

Apply to many opportunities.
You may be an exceptionally-qualified candidate for a given opportunity, but there could be many other exceptionally-qualified individuals applying for the same job. In today's competitive job market, sending 25-50 job applications is not unusual, and some applicants send significantly more.

Note that applying to ajob does not commit you to that job; it's simply your request to be interviewed for that position.

This Job Search Timetable (PDF) provides a suggested timeline for conducting your search.

Don't let uncertainty keep you from taking action.
There are many ways to make progress on your job search. If it feels overwhelming, break your search into small steps and set goals that work for you. Schedule time for your job search each week, and (if helpful) enlist the people around you to keep you on track.

If you're feeling stuck:
Meet with a Career Advisor at the Lazarus Center. Call 413-585-2582 to schedule a conversation.