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How Should I get Started with a Job Search?

Even when the economy is running white-hot, finding quality employment can be a challenge for recent college graduates. In many ways, advanced degrees no longer offer the employment advantages they once did. It all comes down to good job search techniques and a willingness to compete. Experts have always suggested that you should treat your job search just like you would a full-time job. Even with the advent of online job postings and emailable resumes, nothing has fully replaced the face-to-face interview or knocking on the human resource manager's door.

A good job search begins with an honest assessment of your skills. What do you have to offer a company, clients or customers? Now is the time to decide if you truly want to pursue a career in your degree field or consider other pathways.

Decide how you want the world at large to view you in your professional life. Based on this assessment of your strengths, interests, weaknesses and skills, you should be able to focus your job search on the careers that suit you best. Many people start a job search without really understanding what sort of job they're seeking.

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Once you know what careers you wish to pursue, you'll need some outside assistance. Find out if your school offers job search assistance for its graduating students. Quite often a school's job placement office receives notices of entry-level positions available to students and graduates. Rather than advertise these positions in the local media, companies often go straight to the source of eligible candidates. Even if an open position is not available at first, it pays to stay in contact with the school's job placement center.

Another important element of a job search is the resume. There are usually dozens of private companies and freelance writers who can help create a strong resume. When starting a job search, you'll need dozens of these resumes printed on resume-quality paper. If you'd rather create a resume on your own, there are numerous reference books and computer-based programs available to guide you through the process.

Having a 'master resume' on file can help you tailor each copy towards the specific needs of the potential employer. You can always rearrange your resume to emphasize education, work experience or personal interests. A quality resume is your calling card to the employment world, so make sure it speaks loudly and clearly.

You may also want to consider listing yourself with a professional job search firm or online job listing service such as Monster.com. These job search agencies often have connections and insights not readily available to the general public. This is a popular option among job seekers who have very technical or academic degrees, since the usual job listing services rarely post openings for these positions. These services are not free, but they can keep you from wasting time and money on fruitless local job searches.

When on a job search, your phone and a local newspaper can be your best friends. Start cold calling potential employers to see if any of them might be hiring in the near future. Ask their human resources manager about the proper application process and follow up on his or her advice.

Obtain a copy of each of the local newspapers every morning. Circle any job that sounds promising and follow their application procedures to the letter. An average job search day should consist of mailing out resumes, cold calling local companies, scanning the online job listing services and following up on any local help wanted ads. The goal is to find a satisfying job so you won't have to go through the job search process anymore.

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