Job Searching

Take the next step! Find a new opportunity! No matter your expertise level or industry, our resources are designed to help Kirkwood graduates and other community members connect with employers.

If you're asking yourself – "How do I get there? What's the education and training necessary? What are the skills to develop, and possible obstacles and strategies?" – we are here to help!

Some of the best jobs are snagged before they are even advertised! Here are some tips on how to be proactive and snag one for you:

  1. Target a specific geographic area and research places where you’d like to work.
  2. Ask everyone you know to keep their eyes open for potential job openings in your field. Even if they are not working in your field, they may know someone who is!
  3. Set up informational interviews with people in the organization you’d like to work. Don’t ask for a job, but do ask for advice on your resume (and if they like it, they may offer some job leads!).
  4. Send letters of inquiry to places you’d like to work, via postal or email. Follow-up your letters a few days later with a phone call.
  5. Ask if you can call back in a month to see if there are any new job vacancies.
  6. Check company websites and online job boards regularly for job vacancy announcements.

We would love to meet with you!

SDV-135 Job-seeking Skills - 1 credit

Assists students who will be seeking an internship, or part-time or full-time employment. The areas that will be covered include how to research the job market and companies, writing resumes and cover letters, improving job interviewing techniques, and how to utilize Kirkwood’s job search assistance services. For more information contact a career counselor.

In addition to everything offered by Kirkwood Career Services, Career Coach is yet another tool to help you explore your career options.

Visit Career Coach.

Job Search Information

Once you have targeted the geographic location you’d like to work, your next step is to target specific companies or organizations.

Researching companies will help you:

  • Evaluate whether or not a company seems like a good fit for you. (Do you really want to work there?)
  • Figure out how you could benefit the company, so that you can communicate specific ways you could contribute to/improve the company. (What are their needs?)
  • Prepare for an interview. Researching the company beforehand conveys your interest in the company. It will also enable you to ask intelligent questions during the interview.

Tips on researching companies:

  • Save time by using a resource book that compiles information on several companies in one place. The books may focus on a specific industry. You may be able to find these books in Kirkwood’s library, the public library, or bookstores. (Examples: Dun & Bradstreet, Standard & Poor’s Register, Moody’s Manuals.)
  • Review the company’s website. Use a search engine to locate the website and then skim the site and gain as much information as you can.
  • People who already work for the organization can be a great resource. If you know someone who works there (or if you know someone who knows someone who works there), be sure to get in contact with that person. LinkedIn could be a good resource to find that connection!
  • Join related trade or professional organizations to get an inside look at the industry.
  • Read professional journals and magazines to learn about companies and trends in your field.
  • Stay organized. Keep your information organized by using a spreadsheet or other methods. You don’t want to confuse one company with another.

Things to investigate:

  • Product/s made and services offered by the company
  • The working environment
  • Potential for growth and plans for the future
  • Methods of decision-making
  • Degree to which employees are involved in decision-making
  • Frequency of turnover and management style
  • Competitors
  • Major customers/clients
  • Things that need improvement
  • If you are researching in preparation for an interview, find out as much as you can about the specific position

Websites for Researching Companies

  • Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance: The membership directory has contact information and/or links to many local companies.
  • Vault.com has detailed information about major companies worldwide.
  • Symplicity.com provides detailed info on hundreds of companies. Registration is required, but it’s fast and free.

Netiquette (short for network etiquette) refers to rules of etiquette when communicating online via e-mails, discussion boards and chat rooms.

Use formatting wisely.

  • TYPING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IS EQUIVALENT TO SHOUTING! Shouting at your readers will have the opposite effect you intend; your readers are more likely to skim over what you have to say, or ignore you altogether.

Be professional, respectful, and thoughtful in all communications.

  • Please practice professional standards in all your online communications. Students, Alumni and Community people should treat all employers with respect when communicating online.

Pay attention to spelling and grammar.

  • You will be judged by the quality of your writing. Therefore, whenever possible, lend e-mails and discussion posts the same attention to detail you would devote to any published work like your resumes, cover letters and thank you letters.

Read your messages carefully before sending them.

  • Your communications online via e-mail or in discussion groups like LinkedIn are recorded and archived. Since anything you say online can easily be forwarded, avoid making statements you would not want to become public knowledge.

Keep your responses concise.

  • Edit out anything that is not directly applicable to your response. While it is helpful to provide context for your reader by including the original e-mail in your reply, you should avoid burying your response in the layer-upon-layer of previous correspondence.

80% of people today find jobs through networking. When used in conjunction with your excellent resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills, networking can help you get your first big break!

Networking is the process of making connections with people who may be able to help you in your job search.

Networking can help you find out about job openings before they are even advertised. People inside a company often know when there is a need for a new employee, long before people outside the company find out.

Networking can help get you hired. Most employers would prefer to hire someone they know, or an acquaintance of someone they know. The more people you know within your field, the better your chances for obtaining a job become.

But I don’t know anyone in this field. How can I network?

Meet your friend’s dad’s neighbor’s uncle’s brother!

  • Let’s say you only know 10 people with real jobs, and they are in career fields you are not interested in.
  • Each of those people probably knows 15 people in other fields. (10 X 15 = 150)
  • Now you have 150 contacts, and one of them is likely to know someone that can help you with your job search.
  • LinkedIn could be a good resource to find that connection!
  • Whenever you meet someone, ask them if they can recommend anyone else who may be able to help you with your job search. This will expand your contact base even more.

Use informational interviewing as a way of initiating relationships.

  • Contact people within your field directly. Use a directory to find their contact info.
  • If you call and have trouble getting a hold of the person, email may be the best way to initiate contact. You can send a letter asking to meet for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • When asking for 15 to 20 minutes of their time, make sure to stick to the 15 to 20 minutes that you’ve asked for.
  • Identify yourself as a student who is preparing to enter the work-world. Tell them you are learning more about the field and looking for some advice on entering the field. Make sure it’s clear that you are not asking them for a job.
  • Set up an appointment to come in and chat with the person.
  • During the interview, ask questions about the industry, and ask for advice on getting into the field. Show them your resume and ask for suggestions on how to improve it. Ask if they know anyone else who might be helpful to speak with.

Online networking: Join a chat room related to the specific industry you want to enter. For Example: LinkedIn.

Attend professional conferences and/or join a professional organization: Many professionals belong to professional organizations specific to their career field. Many times these organizations will hold conferences where area professionals gather to learn, socialize, and network. Most organizations and conferences will give a discounted registration/membership rate to students. Ask your teachers or advisor for recommended professional organizations.

Join a career-related student organization: Involvement with a student organization related to your major can give you opportunities to meet and work with people in your field. Check out Kirkwood Clubs and Orgs.

Cold calls or networking letters (see example of networking letter) if you don’t know anyone in your field, and don’t know anyone who knows anyone in your field, you may need to do some “cold” calling. You can call, email, or mail a letter to initiate contact with someone you’ve had no previous connection. You may obtain names and contact info from phone directories or company websites. A networking “cold call” might go something like this:

  • You: Hello. Could I speak with Ms. Frank please?
  • Employer: This is Ms. Frank speaking. What can I help you with?
  • You: I’m a recent graduate from Kirkwood’s Accounting program. I’m researching the field of accounting and learning about what’s going on in the field by talking to people who are currently working in the industry. I’ve researched your company, and I’m very interested in possibly meeting with you to learn more about the field of accounting. Would you be willing to help me out with this
  • Employer: Well...ok...but we’re not really hiring now.
  • You: Oh, that’s fine. It would be great just to be able to meet with you and see what you do. You might be able to offer some helpful professional advice for someone just starting out in this field. Would you be available to meet with me next week sometime?
  • Employer: Well...I’ve got an open slot on Wednesday, at 11 a.m.
  • You: Wednesday at 11 a.m. sounds great. I’ll see you then. Thank you so much for your willingness to help!

Some things to remember as you meet people:

  • Prepare beforehand. Know what you’re looking for. Have a list of questions you want to ask. Be ready to ask them during an informational interview, at the grocery store, or at a conference. Networking can happen anywhere. Be ready.
  • Stay organized. Keep a record of your contacts. Write down contact info, and anything else you learn about the person or organization. You may need to contact them in the future, and you’ll want to remember all you can about them.
  • Ask for advice on your resume. Make sure that they understand you are asking for advice, and not begging for a job. Remember, you promised them on the phone that you wouldn’t ask them for a job. However, getting tips on your resume, and getting your resume before potential future employers can help you.
  • Respect their time. If you ask for a 20 minute meeting, keep it to 20 minutes. Always try to make things as convenient as possible for them.
  • Do what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it. Call when you said you’d call, etc.
  • Introduce yourself each time you meet someone, even if you’ve met them before. They may not remember you, and introducing yourself will save them from the embarrassment of having forgotten your name.
  • Thank them! Express your gratitude by saying thank you and sending people who help you thank you notes.
  • Keep in touch, but don’t stalk them. Ask if you can check back in with them in a month or two (That way you can see if they’ve heard of any new job openings and ask them other questions about your job search). If they give you permission, contact them in a month or two if you’re still looking for a job. Don’t call more than once every few months, or you may start to annoy your contact.

Just Do it. Networking can be scary at first, but as you gain confidence, it will become easier and more pleasant. The worst that can happen is you’ll meet someone that doesn’t want to help you; so you have little to lose, and much to gain. If you are polite yet persistent you’ll find that most people are happy to help.

How to Get Started With Social Networking

Increasingly social media provides a platform for recruiting employees, serving customers, professional networking, personal and professional branding, and marketing products and services. Thousands of social media sites exist and appeal to various groups for a variety of reasons. The most popular social media sites include the following.

Popular Social Media Sites

LinkedIn is the premier site for professional networking, group discussions, publishing content, and advertising jobs.

Facebook started out as a site for sharing pictures and chat among college students but has evolved into a significant platform for businesses. Facebook provides a way for families and friends to stay in touch and share their daily lives and pictures. Facebook also allows you to create business pages that are separate from your personal page.

Twitter is a platform where in 140 characters or less, people share their thoughts, share recommended reading, signal businesses that they need product help, and advertise jobs.

Google+ recently arrived with a flourish, and once the option of business pages is added, will rival Facebook for participants. On Facebook, you have one list of friends with whom you share. Google+ brought the concept of circles to the forefront. You can add different people to different circles and decide what and how much you want to share with the people in each circle.

Social Networking Strategies for Personal and Professional Use

Social media is great for building and maintaining relationships online and sharing and finding information you might not get elsewhere. For professionals, social networks can open doors by connecting you to leaders in your field as well as coworkers at the office.

If you want to get into or make the most use out of the social networking scene for both professional and personal reasons, you have a few options. You can use: one profile for both business and personal socializing, separate personal and professional accounts on each social network, or some services for personal use and some for business. Read on for a look at each of these options and tips on finding work-life balance with social media.

Social Networking Strategy #1: Use One Profile for All Social Media Networks

In this example you would have just one account or profile at, say, Facebook (and another at Twitter, etc.). When you update your status, add friends, or "like" new pages, this info will be visible to both your friends and professional contacts. You could write about anything — from the very personal (my dog just destroyed my couch) to something more topical to your job (anyone know how to post a PowerPoint show online?).

Pros:

  • Simplicity; easiest method to use
  • Build a well-rounded online identity
  • Update all of your contacts at once

Cons:

  • Might cause you to be more reserved than you normally would be if you had a separate personal account
  • You might need to be more reserved - your professional contacts probably don't care about your Facebook virtual farms and your friends may not care about the details of the conference you're attending
  • One way to channel messages specific or appropriate to different groups is to set up filters for your contacts so you can choose who will see the message when you post it

Social Networking Strategy #2: Use Separate Personal and Professional Profiles

Set up a separate work-related account and another for personal use on each social networking site. When you want to post about work, login to your professional account and vice versa for personal social networking.

Pros:

  • Helps maintain work-life boundaries
  • Less fear of your colleagues or boss seeing personal details you may not want to share, so you may be more candid (keeping in mind the previous privacy warnings before, though — namely, that privacy may not exist in social media anymore)
  • Messages from contacts will be more relevant to the account type (i.e., you'll see mostly work-related posts in the professional account)

Cons:

  • Can be tricky to maintain — you need to be sure you are logged in to the right account before posting.
  • Harder to see or share updates across all your contacts. Solution: Some programs, like TweetDeck solve this problem by allowing you to post from multiple accounts on multiple networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). You'll still need to be vigilant about which profiles you are posting to/from.

Social Networking Strategy #3: Use Separate Social Networking Services for Different Purposes

Some people use Facebook for personal use but LinkedIn or other niche professional social networks for work use. Facebook, with its games, virtual gifts, and other fun but distracting apps may be more suited for general socializing. LinkedIn, meanwhile, has more of a professional focus, with networking groups for different industries and companies. Twitter is often used for both purposes.

Pros:

  • Same benefits as maintaining separate personal and professional accounts on each network, but a bit less confusing. When you're in Facebook, you write about your life. When in LinkedIn, you can be all business.

Cons:

  • Harder to share or see updates across all your contacts. Again, though, you can use applications to merge multiple accounts.

Which Social Strategy Should You Use?

If you want the simplest method and are not concerned about mixing your business and personal personas, just use one profile on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or other social networks. If you want to keep your work and personal lives separate, though, use either multiple accounts or different networks for different purposes. It can be more complex, but may be better for work-life balance.

Using Social Networking Sites Wisely and With Confidence

  • How personal is too personal. Even though your personal information posted on the internet may be irrelevant to your internship or job search, employers accessing your Facebook account could develop preconceived ideas about you based on the information that's posted online.
  • Use pictures wisely. If you want to include pictures on your social networking site (and most people do) avoid pictures depicting partying and alcohol or any other discriminating behaviors.
    Be sure to include your accomplishments, knowledge and skills on your site. Use your site to build on your personal attributes and accomplishments. Include things such as: internships, volunteer experiences, sports, honors, specific skills (foreign languages, art, music). Anything that promotes your interests, especially if they relate to your internship search, should be included on the site as well.
  • Make an informed decision. Even if you’ve already started an internship or job, be mindful of what and how much information you continue to post online. You still want to create a professional image for employers and co-workers so it's important to be vigilant and continually monitor your account to ensure it makes a favorable impression.

Eventually, you may be offered a position with a company. Congratulations! Your next step is deciding whether or not to take the job. You may have to choose between two offers. Here are some things to consider.

Look at the corporate culture.

  • Do you really want to work there?
  • Is there work-life balance?
  • Is there open communication?
  • Is it a positive working environment?
  • Will you enjoy your coworkers?
  • Are there opportunities for training and advancement?
  • Can you get behind the vision of the company?
  • How do the company’s values align with your own?
  • Will your work activities be interesting and fulfilling?
  • How flexible will your work hours be?
  • How’s the company’s reputation?

Understand the benefits package.

Benefits add value to your package. You may actually walk away with more money at a lower salary job with excellent benefits. Ask questions to clarify what’s included in your benefits package.

  • What is the cost to the employee for health insurance?
  • What all is covered by the insurance? What is the co-pay? Dental? Vision?
  • 401K matching?
  • Retirement or early retirement programs?
  • Tuition reimbursement?
  • Life insurance?
  • Flexible spending accounts?
  • Profit sharing or stock options?
  • Vacation days? (Divide base salary by 260 to determine the cash value of each paid vacation day)

Know what you’re worth.

  • Find out what others who do similar work in the same geographic location are being paid. Make sure your offer is comparable.
  • Use salary.com or Bureau of Labor Statistics to locate this information.

Can you negotiate?

You may want to consider asking for a larger salary or added benefits if a few of the following are true:

  • The salary offered is significantly below your market value.
  • The person who offered you the job has the power to increase your salary.
  • The company is large and/or financially stable.
  • They are urgently trying to fill the position.
  • You are significantly more qualified than the other applicants, or there is little competition for the position.

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Career Services
2092 Cedar Hall
319-398-5540
careerservices@kirkwood.edu