Job Search Strategies

Job search websites 

Job search tips

Form good habits

  • Be on time – timeliness contributes to success
  • A firm handshake and good eye contact demonstrate confidence
  • Avoid verbal graffiti - filler words such as “uh,” “you know,” “like”
  • Dress appropriately for the situation, organization, or activity
  • Watch what you say, how you say it and your choice of language. “Please” and “thank you” always work

Job search manners

  • Follow up on each job application with a phone call or email
  • Honestly report your GPA, dates of employment, work experience, etc.
  • Always send thank you notes after interviews
  • When offered a job, it is better to ask for more time to consider than to accept the offer and decline it later
  • Once you have accepted a job offer, stop interviewing with other organizations
  • If you are interviewing with multiple organizations, inform all parties when you get a job offer
  • Do not forward communications (verbal or written) without consent

Phone manners

  • Don’t answer the phone if you are not available to take the call
  • Use a professional greeting such as “Good morning, this is John Smith”
  • Keep a professional voice mail message on your phone
  • Be sure to talk slowly, clearly, and concisely
  • Keep messages brief and remember to leave your name and phone number.  Say the number twice
  • Return a phone call as soon as possible
  • When possible, arrange to have phone interviews from landlines or make sure that the connection is reliable

Internet Manners

  • Treat your email like any other business communication: watch your spelling, grammar, and verbiage
  • Fill in the subject line with concise, professional, and informative language
  • Use an appropriate email address for all business communication (
  • Avoid ALL CAPITAL LETTERS; capital letters indicate shouting
  • No text speak (i.e. thru, u, etc.) and excessive exclamation points
  • Read what you have written before you send the email                                                                  
  • Employment correspondence over email is legal and official
  • Your profile and information posted online (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) must be professional. Ensure that your privacy settings are working     

Introduce yourself with a personal commercial

A key aspect of networking is introducing yourself to others. A personal commercial (also known as an elevator speech, personal introduction, 30-second commercial, etc.) is a quick, effective way to make an impressive introduction. You will use your personal commercial throughout your professional life, including when introducing yourself to a potential employer at a job fair, an interview, or anytime you are asked to introduce yourself professionally. It is also helpful when responding to the popular statement, “Tell me about yourself.”

Whether you are meeting people through networking or introducing yourself to a potential employer for the first time, having a self-marketing commercial that defines who you are, what you want and how you would benefit an employer will help you stand out. Try using these questions to organize your thoughts and monologue:

  • What is your career goal?
  • What skills, strengths, or experiences do you have that would help you realize that goal?
  • What accomplishment best represents how you use these skills, strengths, or experiences?
  • What are you searching for in a job or internship?
  • How can you immediately benefit the organization?

Personal commercial template

Your personal commercial should be conversational and natural. The statement should not sound memorized and you should take care not to ramble.  You want to appear confident, poised, and professional.

  • Greeting: Hello, my name is ...
  • Experience: I am a ... studying ... at Western Michigan University.
  • Interest/passion: I am mainly interested in ...
  • Strengths: My strengths include ... and ...
  • Brief example: Last summer, I worked at ... and was able to ...
  • Goal (informational interview): I am looking to gain a better understanding of ...
  • Goal (internship or employment): I believe my ability to ... and experience in ... would benefit your company by ...

Personal commercial examples

“Good morning, my name is Nirag Vashi, and I am a secondary education student at Western Michigan University with a focus in science. I grew up in a family of teachers and know that being a high school science teacher is my calling. My passion for helping others has been evident in my involvement in Kalamazoo Public Schools and as a camp counselor for the last three years. Through those experiences I have learned to interact with a diverse group of people, which has increased my ability to relate to others. I have also had the opportunity to create lessons for the campers that focused on life skills like teamwork, communication, and time management.  Having been a teacher yourself, what things should I be doing now to prepare for my internship search?”

“Hello, I am Alexandra Hill, and I will be completing my bachelor’s degree in finance from Western Michigan University in August. I have worked on a wide variety of projects that have allowed me to put what I’ve learned in the classroom into use in a practical sense. Last year, I was part of a new course where the students managed $500,000 for the Western Annual Fund and it was really exciting to see the portfolio grow.  I pride myself on being detail-oriented, analytical, and driven.  I understand that you are searching for a new investment advisor and I believe these qualities would benefit your company’s goal to increase your client base while continuing to provide sound investment advice.”

Communicate your knowledge, skills, and abilities

When you write your resume and cover letters, you need to communicate how your knowledge, skills, and abilities align with employer needs, and provide specific examples of your accomplishments. 

Identify keywords and phrases

 Analyze job postings for position-specific keywords

  • Highlight the skills, personal qualities, and knowledge required for the desired industry
  • Use O*Net to identify additional competencies that employers desire

Reflect on experience

  • Brainstorm all the ways in which you have gained knowledge, skills, and abilities desired by employers
  • Remember that you do not need to get paid to gain from an experience.  Think of all the skills you have acquired from work, volunteer activities, and coursework

Focus on accomplishments

  • Think about your accomplishments using the STAR method:
    • “S/T” – SITUATION / TASK – What was the situation/task you were working on?  What factors contributed to a particular challenge, e.g., budget cuts, tight deadlines, new goals from upper management, etc.?
    • “A” – ACTION – What steps did you take to address the challenge or solve the problem?
    • “R” – RESULT – What was the outcome of your actions?  Did you save time or money?  Did the employer adopt the solution you developed?  Use numbers to highlight your accomplishments 
  • Effective accomplishment statements:
    • are specific examples of something you are proud of because they contributed to the employer’s or team’s success
    • start with an action verb
    • tell the reader what you did, how you did it, or how well you did it
    • highlight actions that you performed using your strengths
    • include results of your activities
  • Examples of accomplishment statements:
    • Spearheaded three-year strategic plan and annual fund development program to ensure long-term financial stability; secured $10,000 grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation for its launch 
    • Designed and created brochures and guidelines that were adapted by the organization to increase volunteer recruitment 
    • Monitored quality of water source, sewage, and drinking water to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations
    • Developed new testing procedures under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that made the analysis process more efficient and cost-effective
    • Collected and analyzed data and created comparative charts to assist units of local government in reviewing and revising a comprehensive plan for next decade

Building a professional network

Professional networking has to play an important role throughout one’s career. The benefits that networking brings can sometimes leave you amazed. If you want to achieve professional success, you should start career networking as quickly as possible.

Meet as many people as you can

While you are studying in college, you should never hesitate to meet with as many people as possible. Introduce yourself to faculty, staff, and other students. You never know who you will meet by regularly interacting with a wide variety of people.

Connect online

Use social networking platforms to connect with influential people online. Participate in online conversations on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. Get in touch with employers, industry experts, recruiting agencies, passionate people, etc. Join the WMU Career Mentors in LinkedIn groups.

Listen more than you talk

If you want to expand your network and benefit from it too, you need to become an active listener. Listening is a great skill, which you can use to attract a lot of people. So, don’t just speak. Let other people share their point of views. And learn from what they say.

Attend career events

Whether a social event is organized by your college or the community where you live, you can use this as an excellent opportunity for connecting with influential people.

Make people feel important

People like to be heard. They want to be felt important. If you have the capability to make other people feel important, you can easily grab their attention. It is a great skill to connect to a lot of people and expand your network even while you are in college.

Get rid of the fear of rejection

When you start meeting people, you may have some fear of being rejected as well. Many people won’t simply want to connect. Don’t let this fear hold you back. Step up and march ahead. Always be positive!

Adapted with permission from: James Tomerson, visit, which also offers jobseekers a free career aptitude test to choose a career which is in tune with their career, aptitude and skills.

Using LinkedIn in college and beyond

LinkedIn is an appropriate tool for college students, as long as you are ready to interact professionally and with career development and progression in mind. 

Getting job email alerts 

Once you have created your professional profile on LinkedIn, set email alerts to receive notifications of recommended jobs. Students and job seekers will be able to see the notifications on their homepage as soon as they log into their LinkedIn accounts.

Connecting with professionals

You can find your friends, co-workers, colleagues, classmates, and family members on this platform. What’s more, you can even import your email list to find out who among your friends is present on LinkedIn. Join the WMU Career Mentors group in LinkedIn.

Conducting company research

One of the biggest benefits LinkedIn offers college students and job seekers is that they can check out the pages of their targeted employers. By visiting company, pages, you can conduct a research on the whereabouts of the company, the hiring process and what people have to say about that organization. This kind of company research on LinkedIn can always keep a stay ahead of your competition and increases your employability.

Getting recommendations

LinkedIn also offers a feature through which you can get other people to recommend you. People with a maximum number of recommendations have a great chance of attracting the employers’ attention.

Letting companies find you

Today, a large number of organizations look for talented candidates on social networking platforms like LinkedIn. If you have created a good and detailed professional profile, chances are you will attract employers’ attention.

Landing international jobs

LinkedIn is a global networking platform. If you are interested in landing jobs overseas, you can get a lot of benefits by networking on this social media website. You can connect with all the major international employers and find jobs in foreign countries.

Adapted and used by permission from: James Tomerson

Start your LinkedIn profile