Job Search Strategies and Preparation

A successful job search is rarely achieved without a well-planned and well-managed strategy. Too often students take the sole and reactive approach of applying for an array of jobs they identify online, submitting their applications through search engines (e.g. Indeed), or job boards (e.g. Monster), and hoping for an interview that often never comes. While there are cases in which this reactive approach has resulted in a job, the majority of applicants will never see the results they seek.  A better strategy takes a more proactive approach that embraces active career planning and engagement. By being proactive you put yourself at the helm of your career and steer your own ship. (See the graphics below for a visual representation of a reactive and proactive approach.)

Typical job search applicants spend 90% of their time applying for jobs online, and only 10% networking.

A proactive approach is a focused, multipronged effort that, when well managed, reliably yields richer results.

Job Search Resources & Steps to a Proactive Job Search


  • Career Connector PHPD’s online career management and one stop employment resource
  • Career Guides (housed in the document library of Career Connector) include Self-Assessment & Career Plan; Resume; CV; Cover Letter; Networking & Professional Communications; LinkedIn Tips for Students; Interview Preparation; and Salary Negotiations.

To access the Career Guides, log in to Career Connector. Click on “Resources,” then “Document Library” from the drop down menu. See what’s included in each guide under Career Guides Descriptions below.

Steps to a Proactive Job Search

  1. Create a list of your “top ten” employers based on your Career Plan (see Self-Assessment & Career Plan guide in Career Connector). Use LinkedIn and Career Connector to research employers who tend to hire graduates in your field, and whose work matches your interests (see LinkedIn Tips for Students in Career Connector for more details).
  2. Find contacts at your “top ten” employers through referrals, LinkedIn connection requests, and Career Connector contacts.
  3. Reach out to contacts for informational interviews (see Networking & Professional Communications guide in Career Connector) to learn more about your target organizations and to solicit advice on your career interests.
  4. Follow your “top ten” employer list through RSS feeds, Facebook andLinkedIn. Check their career website one time per week.
  5. Continue to look for and apply to jobs online, but be focused! When an opportunity pops up at one of your “top ten” organizations, reach out to the contacts you have made. Be honest that you are planning to apply for a job at their organization, and ask if they would have time for a quick phone call regarding a few questions you have on putting together the best application possible. Refer to this conversation in your cover letter.
  6. Set a weekly goal, or a weekly schedule of how much time you will devote to reaching out to contacts. Often, when this strategy isn’t yielding results, it’s because the quantity of networking/informational interviews needs to increase.

Career Guides Descriptions

(To access the guides, log in to Career Connector. Click on “Resources,” then “Document Library” from the drop down menu.)

Resume and CV

Two distinct guides—the “Resume” guide and the “CV” guide—provide detailed information on developing these essential documents. Students seeking resume help will find up-to-date information on content development, including personal branding, and applicant tracking systems.  A reference list of action verbs and sample resumes (from MPH, MBS, MS-HCOM, MS/MPH, PA, and MS-PREP/NESA graduates) are also included.

DrPH students seeking assistance with CV writing will find sample CVs and guidance on developing content.

Cover Letter

The “Cover Letter” guide focuses on structure and key content areas to help you promote your most relevant qualities and contributions. In this guide you will also find sample letters representing different job sectors from students across our programs. Use the included cover letter checklist to help keep you on track.

Networking & Professional Communications

The “Networking & Professional Communications” guide provides an overview of specific and critical communication tools that you will use during your ALE, job, or internship search including networking, informational interviews, the elevator pitch, thank you letters, references, and writing samples. These tools provide the basis for honing essential communication skills that can help you avoid making minor communication transgressions that could result in a negative impression that is hard to reverse. Leveraging these tools to your advantage and mastering communication best practices is the key to your success.

LinkedIn Tips for Students

Social media plays an important role in today’s hiring practices. According to a 2015 survey, 92% of hiring managers said they use social media in the recruiting process. Of those, 87% use LinkedIn to source candidates. As a top professional networking site, LinkedIn is a vital resource for every student, providing opportunities to improve your visibility with potential employers by sharing an in-depth profile and breadth of information than can be broader than the capacities of a resume and cover letter.  LinkedIn’s resources such as its University pages, and a student-focused mobile app that provides custom, jobs-related recommendations, are among its many tools to help users connect to opportunities. Use the resources in the CC document library to help you establish or optimize your current profile.

Interview Preparation

The “Job Interview Preparation” guide provides an overview of the styles and types of interviews that you will likely encounter during your job search. Throughout the guide you’ll find key information to help you prepare for, conduct, and follow up after the interview. A key feature of the guide is a list of difficult interview questions job seekers usually encounter, and some helpful insights to answering them.

Salary Negotiations

The “Salary Negotiations” guide delves into essential information to help you successfully negotiate a job offer. Providing a comprehensive overview of how employers arrive at a salary, together with information and examples to help you answer salary-related questions at any stage of the job search, this guide is an invaluable tool. We encourage you to use this guide to identify dependable salary-research resources, and to learn how to build your case for what you’re worth.

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