This is an unexpected and challenging time, certainly for those who are seeking employment or other opportunities. While each person’s individual circumstances and career goals are different, we hope to offer you information, strategies, and resources to help you be as strategic and focused as possible.

This page will be updated as frequently as possible, to provide you with a central resource to plan and adjust your strategies as needed.

Five Step Process to the Job Search

In this moment, it may feel like everything is out of your control. We encourage you to focus on what you are able to control, and create a plan that helps you stay as connected as possible to your career goal. With that in mind, here are five steps to creating a focused and flexible job search plan:

1. Look

  • Look

    Understand what’s happening in the industry you would like to pursue. What trends are happening. For example, are there more or less jobs? Are specific roles or functions affected? How is work being done?

    Some of the places to get this information include sites that are sharing frequent updates and trends, including the Emsi Job Posting Dashboard or the Candor Hiring Freezes list. You may also want to review articles that are regularly offering updated lists of employers that are hiring, such as articles we have been sharing on our website from Handshake, LinkedIn, and the Muse.

    You may also find specific updates through professional associations in your industry; a quick way to find these is to google “professional association [industry].” For example, if you’re interested in the music industry, you would type “professional association music” into google to see what associations appear.

    The goal at this point is not to find job postings (if you do find them, save them), but to get an idea of how your industry is affected by current conditions.

    If you’re not sure what industry you want to pursue, you may want to review the information on our industry pages, or use the tools within Focus2 (you can find this in Rutgers-Newark Handshake: Career Center—Resources).

2. Reflect

  • Reflect
    This is a critical time to have a strong story to share, about the skills you have AND how you have those skills. As more people look for jobs, employers/recruiters will get more applications per open position. It becomes easier to eliminate candidates who can’t share examples of how they have the desired skills.One way to start is to think about the skills you have, and to write down examples of how you have developed those skills. Not sure what kinds of skills to choose? Here are a few ways to choose:
    Take a look at the skills listed in job postings that interest you.

    Review the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) career readiness competencies, which have been identified by employers as being the top skills that show a college graduate is ready for the workforce.

    Remember that you want to think about your examples of how you have used these skills in your own experiences; those examples are key!

    If you already have a resume, you may want to see whether that resume reflects the skill sets that you want to use and emphasize to potential employers. You can use the following tool to see the skills trending on your resume: Emsi Resume Optimizer

3. Strategize

  • Strategize

    Your job search plan will likely need to be expanded beyond searching for positions that are directly tied to your ideal career goal. As you expand your job search plan, think about the different ways that you can add possibilities that are still connected to your ideal goal. This could include other positions within the same industry, positions in related industries, or positions connected to your skillset.

    At this time, you may need to pursue options that aren’t connected to your career goal, especially if these are ways for you to continue earning a paycheck. Think about all of the ways those options may help you to strengthen your skill set. And, if you need to look for some of these options, you may want to look at different experiential opportunities or find free resources that can help you boost your skills. LinkedIn Learning is available for free to you, using your netID and password, as well as some free software for remote use.

4. Connect

  • Connect

    Building a community of support should always be a part of your career, so that you stay connected with peers, find potential mentors, and meet others within your industry. At this time, those connections can help you learn where, what, and how to look.

    Rutgers-Newark Handshake can be a place to search for peers who have similar interests, as you can message others directly through the platform. If you’d like to find alumni, you can use Rutgers Student Alumni Career Connect or the alumni tool in LinkedIn (here’s a link to the Rutgers-Newark alumni in LinkedIn).

    Remember that as you reach out to people, the idea is to get information and advice that will make you a stronger candidate, NOT to ask for jobs. If you’re wondering  about how to ask for help in the job search, here’s a recent post that offers some suggestions.

5. Act

  • Act

    The last step of this process is to work on applications. It may feel like you’re productive if you’re applying to a lot of positions, but it’s better to take more time customizing your materials for each position to look aligned as a candidate. Remember that when there are more applicants per opening, it’s easier for recruiters to eliminate more applications—so you want to do as much as possible to keep your application under consideration.

    Rutgers-Newark Handshake is a good place to start looking for job postings, as employers post there to seek entry-level talent, as well as candidates with a few years of experience. You may also want to review information on lists of employers that are hiring, such as articles we have been sharing on our website from Handshake, LinkedIn, and the Muse. It’s important to stay alert at this time for potential fraudulent job postings.

    This is now the time to ensure that you have strong, customized application materials. You can review our tips on resumes and cover letters. Make sure that the skills you mention in your application documents align with the skills in job postings. Check the skills that appear to trend on your resume with this tool: Emsi Resume Optimizer. You can also try the Jobscan tool to see how your resume and a job description match up.

If you need additional help with any of these steps, remember that the Office of Career Resources and Exploration is here for you. We have a number of events, workshops, and programs related to the COVID-19 job search. Please log into Rutgers-Newark Handshake for specific information on these events.


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