General Job Search Guidelines and Resources

In this section, you will find resources related to the general job search:



Over the span of your life, you will find yourself going through the job search process several times.  Most job seekers will change their careers and/or employers at least four to five times throughout their working lives.   Learning and adapting job search skills will provide you with a lifelong ability to effectively maneuver through the job search process.  Critical elements that will determine the effectiveness of your job search include the:

Assessment of Interests, Skills and Abilities

Before the job search begins, take time to assess your interests, skills and abilities.  Some questions you can ask yourself are: What are my work-related interests, skills and abilities?  What have I learned from my academic, volunteer and/or job experiences?  Do I want to live locally, nationally or internationally?  How do I envision my lifestyle for the next five to ten years?

Although the self-exploration process can take quite a bit of time, you will find it useful in determining your occupational and career goals.  As a result, the likelihood of your satisfaction with your career choices will be higher and your career objectives will become more focused.

Develoment of Effective Job Search Documents

Job search documents include not only résumés and cover letters, but portfolios, thank you letters, acceptance letters, and any documents related to the job search process as well.  The CCO also has several resources to assist you including a Career Resource Center, the CCO web site, workshops, and individual appointments.

Development, Analysis and Adaptation of the Job Search Process

To be successful in your job search, a plan of action is required.  You must be ready to develop, analyze and adapt your job search process to maximize your results.  Additionally, more than half of all available positions are never advertised and are called the “hidden job market.”  To make the most of your job search efforts, you must tap this “hidden job market.”  Here are some strategies to help you expand and strengthen your search:


  • Research industries of interest.  Learn who they are and how they hire so you can focus your search effectively. 
  • Remember the job title is not everything—look at the key responsibilities of the position.
  • Consider expanding geographic preferences and/or career interest areas.
  • If you are unsure of your interests and how these relate to the world of work, you might consider career assessment options through the CCO.


  • Adjust your weekly schedule to include time for job search related tasks.
  • Create a log to track your progress.  Record applications, interviews and follow-up dates.  Set interim goals to keep you motivated.


  • Research employers.  Know what the employers are seeking in candidates.
  • Ensure your cover letter and résumé highlight relevant skills and experiences.
  • Use multiple search resources.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!


  • Network with professionals working in your field(s) of interest.  This is one of the most effective tools in any job search and is key to identifying positions in the hidden job market!
  • Tap your personal network (friends, family, neighbors, friends/friend’s parents, past supervisors, professors, co-workers.
  • Conduct informational interviews of professionals in your field(s) of interest.
  • Become involved in professional organizations.
  • Stay in contact with the SMC Alumnae Relations Office as well as your local Alumnae Club.
  • Attend career fairs, employer presentations, and discipline specific conferences/conventions.


  • Re-evaluate and enhance job search strategies on a regular basis.
  • Follow-up as soon as possible after making contact with a potential employer.
  • Send thank you letters or e-mails following contacts with employers.
  • Show enthusiasm, initiative and motivation.

Amount of Time and Effort Put Forth in Your Job Search

The amount of time and effort you put into your job search is crucial in determining the outcome and effectiveness of your job search.  Expect to spend between 3-9 months concentrating on your job search before fielding and accepting job offers from employers.  Be consistent with the amount of time you spend each week on your job search.  Depending on outside commitments and priorities, you should expect to spend 20+ hours per week.  While the CCO is here to assist in your job search, it is ultimately your responsibility to make things happen and your individual efforts will determine your success.

Realistic Expectations and Goals

Finding a job is not easy and keeping your goals in perspective can be daunting at times.  It is important for you to set realistic and obtainable goals that will lead to success and bolster your confidence during the job search process.  Accomplishing milestones along the way will help you keep a positive outlook on the bigger picture of obtaining a job offer.  Upon completion of a set of job search tasks or accomplishing a goal, be sure to reward yourself for your efforts!

Evaluation of Job Offers

Once you have received a job offer from an employer, you must be ready to evaluate the offer and determine if the position will be a good fit for you.  Are the position and employer compatible with your values and interests?  Are you prepared to reject the offer if you determine the position is wrong for you?  Is the salary within your range requirements?

Handling Rejection During the Job Search

Rejection is a natural part of the job search process.  You will not obtain a 100% success rate with employers after each interview and you should keep in mind the factors influencing the employer’s decision-making.  It is easy to become mentally trapped by the notion that a job rejection equates to a personal rejection, however, focus on the fact that perhaps you were not an ideal fit for the employer.  Although a rejection can be disappointing, it could save you time in the long run instead of being trapped in an unfulfilling and unsatisfying position.  It is normal and okay to feel hurt and frustrated, but refocus your energy on maintaining your job search.  It is very important to keep a positive mental attitude during times of rejection.  Balancing the job search with recreational and relaxing activities may alleviate some of the frustration.


What employers are Looking For

While there are specific job responsibilities and skills that the employer would like their employee to have and fill, there are qualities that overall, most employers are seeking. According to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, here are the top 10 characteristics:

  • Communication Skills: This includes verbal: being able to communicate with others, including those from different cultures; written: possessing knowledge and use of proper grammar, correct spelling, and general sentence structure; and presentation: skilled at creating and presenting information and ideas to individuals and groups.
  • Leadership Skills: The ability to guide, direct, or influence people.
  • Teamwork Skills: These are effective when the skills create an effective team dynamic. Students must be self-reliant while also being able to work with others.
  • Geographic Awareness: Awareness of space, where countries and cities are located, social and cultural geographic movement, and dominant physical assets of a region are critical to a company's vitality.
  • Global Understanding: The ability to interact with people from all over the world and understand global issues.
  • Technical: Technical aptitude includes what is required in a position, computer literacy with major software and basic troubleshooting skills.
  • Analytical Thinking: Being able to take time to examine something in great detail in order to understand it better or discover more about it.
  • Strong Work Ethic: Taking pride in projects and working hard in order to accomplish a task.
  • Time Management Skills: Managing projects, meetings, deadlines, and other responsibilities in a systematic and efficient way.
  • Flexibility/Adaptability: According to the needs of an organization, being able to adjust easily to a new environment or different conditions.


Job Search Resources

  • College Central NetworkUsing the online recruiting system here at Saint Mary’s is a great way to search for jobs where the employers are excited about the opportunity to interview an SMC student or graduate!
  • Company Websites:  Almost all companies have websites and there is generally a tab to search for open positions [careers, employment, etc]. Sometimes the Human Resources section is where they are located.
  • Internships: Oftentimes companies hire their interns for full-time employment if they have had a good experience. So think about obtaining an internship while at Saint Mary’s!
  • Job Search Websites: There are numerous websites to help job seekers find jobs.
  • Volunteering: This is a way to explore careers during the year, summer or following graduation. It helps you to explore specific areas of work as well as begin your network.
  • Private Employment Agencies: Often these agencies are used by older professionals seeking management positions with expansive experience. There could be a fee and sometimes the employer will pay it. Please consult with the CCO and your professional network before signing registering with any agencies.
  • Public Employment Agencies: Historically, these agencies focus on non-professional positions but recently have shifted to include some requiring a college degree. Services are generally free and you may find some referrals or jobs this way.
  • Temporary Employment Services: This is a way to earn a paycheck while searching for a job and increasing your network. You can find these agencies in the phone book and some of them specialize in specific fields. Ensure there is no service fee by working with an agency that is paid by the employer.
  • Classified/Want Ads: Although most employers are going online, newspapers may still be a great way to find positions.
  • University of Notre Dame: In the past, the Notre Dame Career Center has allowed SMC students to attend workshops, career fairs, and employer information sessions. This relationship is valuable and so we try to keep this as a positive experience.
  • Government Jobs: Nearly 10% of the job market is through the government. For most positions, you must pre-register, file an application, and take the appropriate tests or examinations. The application process can take up to a year or more so be patient! Be sure to contact the specific agency in which you are interested to follow their application procedures.