There’s no “one size fits all” way to find a job. The process varies depending on your individual goals and circumstances, and industry-specific timelines and protocols. The information below provides an overview of the job search process, as well as important tools and resources. This advice is not meant to replace the individualized assistance you will receive by working with an OCS Career Adviser. Schedule an appointment with an adviser to develop your individual job search plan.
Tip: Did you know the Yale Career Link hosts Summer Peer Networking Lists and Class Lists with contact information of thousands of current students and recent alumni willing to discuss their internship and postgraduate employment experiences. Search under Resources, Document Library to start learning more about these employers.
The first step in your job search is to establish clear goals and criteria. Start by considering the following questions and criteria:
If you’re not sure what industries or fields you’re interested in pursuing, or how your skills and interests fit with career options, schedule an appointment with an OCS Career Adviser. In addition, visit the resources in the Resource Library and Common Good & Creative Careers sections of this website to begin the exploration process, as well as review job postings on the Yale Career Link, powered by Symplicity to get an idea of what types of jobs are available and to see what sparks your interest.
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.
There are many resources for identifying posted opportunities. We’ve broken this down into resources you can use to learn about posted job openings. Again, we recommend that you devote no more than 20% of your job search efforts to applying to posted opportunities, with the remaining 80% of your efforts devoted to actively pursuing opportunities with employers of interest through networking.
Link: General Job Boards
There are many general online job boards you can utilize in your search. Below are a few of the sites alumni have found most useful.
There is a myth that most people find their jobs from formal job postings, on-campus recruiting and web sites. In contrast, 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 can help you utilize networking resources, such as the Yale Career Network, the Yale College Class Lists and LinkedIn to tap into the alumni network, and assist you with practicing your approach and building relationships with networking contacts. Visit our Networking Section, under the Yale Career Network tab for more information.
Staying organized throughout this process is essential. By senior year, you will be very skilled at managing 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 to assure you don’t miss opportunities.
It is also important to designate sufficient time for your job search. It is a good idea to think about your job search as a class, without an exam. If you typically designate 4-5 hours a week to prepare for a class, that is what you should designate for your job search.
Some employers are able to anticipate their entry-level hiring needs months in advance, usually large employers. These companies are in the minority, and are by no means representative of the range of entry-level opportunities that will be available to graduating seniors. Employers who participate in the On-Campus Recruiting program fall into the advanced hiring category.
In addition to On-Campus Recruiting, there are employers and organizations that have established 1-2 year opportunities or programs. In the non-profit sector these are sometimes referred to as fellowships, or may also be listed as internships. Some well known examples of fixed-term programs in the non-profit sector are Teach for America, AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps. Other sectors may have established fixed-term programs, sometimes referred to as leadership development programs or rotational programs. The application deadlines vary depending on the opportunity; some have one deadline per year, while larger programs may have multiple deadlines throughout the year.
The majority of employers across all sectors – for-profit, non-profit, and government – fall into this category. Most employers hire when someone leaves or when the company or organization is growing. When positions become available, employers often want to fill the opening quickly; if a position becomes available in February, most employers will not be able to hold it open until June when a graduating student is available to begin working. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t start your job search early.
Note: Building relationships through networking takes time, and your goal should be to develop a well-established and far reaching network before positions become available to assure you learn about opportunities. Even if you’re primarily targeting industries or employers who don’t hire in advance, you should be working on your job search throughout the year. Growing your network and gaining industry knowledge over the course of the year will be more manageable and more productive.