Looking for a job can be both exciting and stressful. Before you jump in, take the time to develop a solid understanding of the technical and transferable skills you have gained while at Yale, in addition to your interests and values. Also identify any factors which might constrain your search, such as geographic preferences, an organization's culture, or work-life balance. Doing this inventory will be instrumental in focusing your search so that you can direct your efforts in the most productive way. To assist with this process, take advantage of our self-assessment resources, or meet with an advisor.
The Office of Career Strategy offers a wealth of resources to assist you as you explore careers and identify opportunities outside of the academy. As you get ready to embark on your job search, take a moment to review our job search overview and timeline to familiarize yourself with basic strategies. By taking initiative, thinking carefully and creatively about your professional narrative, and preparing your career toolkit ahead of time, you can maximize your chances of success in identifying opportunities that fit your criteria. Most importantly, make sure you spend a significant fraction of your time on building professional connections. The majority of positions will never be posted, and even those that are may be filled through referrals.
The first step in your job search is to establish clear goals and criteria. Start by considering the following questions:
If you’re not sure what industries or fields you’re interested in pursuing, or how your skills and interests fit with career options, perform a self-assessment or schedule an appointment with an OCS Career Adviser. As you embark on your career exploration process, take advantage of these offerings from OCS:
Once you’ve established your search criteria, the next step is to learn as much as you can about the employers within your field of interest, trends in the industry, and the latest industry news. Immerse yourself in the publications, websites and resources that professionals in the field follow. This will help you to develop your list of target employers, and prepare you to speak about the industry and your interest when networking and interviewing for positions. The tools and resources in the Resource Library and Common Good & Creative Careers sections of this website will get you started in this process, as will talking with an OCS Career Adviser who can explain how to make the most of these tools.
It’s essential to begin preparing yourself and your materials early in the job search process, before you even have specific jobs in mind. Follow these steps to get started, and visit the Career Toolkit section of this website for more detail and samples.
The primary job search method people tend to employ is to apply for opportunities posted on websites. This should be a component of your search, but should NOT be the only or the primary job search method you employ; limit this strategy to 20% of your search. The remaining 80% of your time should be focused on actively seeking out opportunities by building relationships with professionals employed at companies and organizations of interest. This is commonly referred to as networking. It’s a myth that all jobs get posted; in fact the majority of positions will never make it to any website, and even those that do may be filled through referrals.
The reality is that most jobs are never formally advertised and will not recruit through a formal process. In fact, in some situations employers prefer to not advertise positions because they want to work through a referral system. It’s essential to actively engage in your job search by building relationships with professionals in your field of interest; this process is commonly referred to as networking.
Tip: Many people find the concept of networking intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. Networking is a major source of information about job openings, and in many fields it is the principal way of getting into the industry. Networking may also help you stand out from others that are solely applying to posted positions.
You already have a network of contacts you can tap into, whether you recognize it or not. Start by considering your academic, professional and personal networks. Contacts in these networks include professors, Deans, Masters, internship supervisors, family and friends. Beyond those networks, you also have access to a robust network of current Yale students and Yale alumni. There are strong communities of alumni in all industries and throughout the world that can serve as resources and contacts for you as you engage in an active job search.
OCS offers a wealth of networking tips and resources, such as the Yale Career Network, to help you tap into the alumni network and assist you with practicing your approach and building relationships with networking contacts.
There are many resources for identifying posted opportunities. Again, we recommend that you devote no more than 20% of your job search efforts to applying to posted opportunities
Staying organized throughout this process is essential. As a student or postdoc, you are already very skilled at coordinating demanding academic and extracurricular commitments. Employ these organizational skills to managing your applications, networking contacts, and industry research. Don’t just rely on your sent email file to keep track of who you’ve contact and when you sent materials. Set up an Excel spreadsheet or use tools such as Google Docs to establish a system to manage your search.
Hopefully during your initial conversation or meeting with a networking contact you took a few notes. What advice or recommendations did your contact give you? Did they recommend you explore a particular resource or check out a website they find useful? Did they pass on the name of another contact or recommend employers to look at? This is information you can use to follow-up.
Periodically check in with them and let them know you listened to their advice and are taking action. This will let your contact know you’re serious and that their time was not wasted. In addition, if you see an article on a topic you discussed, or find a resource that you think could be useful to them based on your conversation, send it. Networking should be a mutually beneficial exchange. Reciprocate and contribute to the relationship, and most importantly let them know you appreciate their continued guidance.
Tip: Remember that no two networking relationships will develop in the same way. Some contacts will be open to more regular contact, while others may prefer just one conversation. You need to let the relationship evolve organically, but always keep in mind the goal of networking is to develop long-term mentoring relationships; a job may come of this relationship, but should not be the expectation or primary goal of networking.
A common question students ask is when to begin their job search. Unfortunately there isn’t one answer to this question because timelines vary widely even within the same industry. Regardless, it’s important to plan ahead and to designate sufficient time to your job search to assure you don’t miss opportunities. Read our "Overview and Timeline" page to learn more.