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May 2013

Your Job Search: Is it like looking for water in the desert?

The world changes constantly. In what seems like decades ago, jobs were abundant and headhunters were scooping up candidates before graduation nationwide. But you know what? it's not happening like that today. “Why?” you ask. Well, our economy has hit a few road bumps, budgets have failed, and companies have gone under. This can make it very difficult for today's candidates to locate a job that is worth their time and money spent in college.

Companies are not going to find you anymore… so you have to find them! We all have to learn a few new tools and techniques to help us get creative in our job search. “Getting creative” means looking for jobs in areas or with techniques previously not used. Only about 20-30 percent of jobs are actually published to the general public! And 80-90 percent of people looking for jobs concentrate their efforts solely on those posted jobs rather than exploring the hidden job market. All employers are thinking about the future: where the company is headed, goals for their projects, and who they will need to hire to meet these goals. Many professionals network to find the right person to fill a position rather than publicize it to everyone and take the chance of hiring the wrong candidate. This means you need to start digging for jobs rather than searching for them. Digging entails networking with professionals in your career industry. Get to know them, talk with them and pick their brains for ideas. Networking may also mean interviewing professionals about their career and how they got there. You might not necessarily hand them your resume, but you can hint at your own job search.

Digging could also mean taking on more volunteer work, part-time work or internships in the areas in which you are interested. This will allow you the chance to get your foot in the door and gain contacts in the field. You cannot expect to just jump into the computer industry without first having some experience in computers or by not having any contacts to back you up! Using this train of thought, follow some simple steps:

  1. Get to know your interests: What is it that interests you? You must first learn the product you are going to be selling before you can create a marketing plan!
  2. Market yourself: You must continue to learn new things so that you have opportunity to move to different areas. Learn how to package your skills, experience and knowledge into a “career brand” to communicate to employers.
  3. Take away the bumps in the road: If your industry is feeling a pinch in your geographic area, be willing to move somewhere else. Job functions might have more opportunities in some areas, but not in others. Keep this way of thinking in the forefront of your mind.
  4. Be positive and energetic: It will be hard in some instances…believe me. But remember to keep your energy high and your mind positive. The more negative you become, the harder the process gets. Employers pick up the negativity in the interview and this could count against you! No one wants to work with a sourpuss!

When you hit a brick wall in your search, it is time to back up and find another road to follow. Take a look at the free online resources that the Career Services Center provides alumni at

Dr. Patrick Madsen is the director of the UNCG Career Services Center. Learn more at



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