In order to approach the job search strategically, you need to consider what you have to offer and what you are looking for. Once you have some idea of the kind of work that will suit your current needs, you can strengthen your job search process by crafting a targeted strategy to help you land an opportunity that aligns with your goals.
Set your goals
Your degree combined with experience sets you up to do many different types of work. Before starting your job search, ask yourself some initial questions to determine your current goals. Below are some examples you might consider.
- What type of job do you want? Is it full-time, part-time, or seasonal? At an office or in the field? Entry-level or intermediate?
- What skills do you already have?
- What kind of work would be interesting for you (e.g., research, teaching, admin, entrepreneur) and why?
- Who does the sort of work you’re interested in (e.g., academia, non-profit, private or public sector, industry)? For example, you might consider who shares your interests or who might need employees with your skills and experiences. Do you have experience related to the work you’re interested in? Ask yourself what types of employers would be interesting for you.
- Where do you think your experience and knowledge will be seen as valuable? What kind of work do you think your academic, personal and professional backgrounds have prepared you to do?
Research your preferred fields
Find out as much information as you can about the fields that you're interested in. This will help you to write effectively tailored job applications and increase your chance of being hired. It will also help you determine if you have the knowledge, skills, and experience required to do the work you’re interested in. If not, you might need to adjust your current job search goal to focus on gaining that experience.
Below are some examples of research you can do before you start applying for jobs.
- Search up companies online and locate their focus, mandate, mission, or goals. Search for trends, new developments, current literature, and more, in the fields of those companies.
- Identify the experts. Look for industry or professional associations, current employees, and leaders in your fields of interest.
- Think about the specific employers you might want to target. Research their work. Do they have competitors you might also research?
- Consult the “Your degree” pages for Arts degree, Science degree, Engineering degree, and Land and Food Systems degree to learn about companies and professional associations that often hire students with your academic background.
- Check out career resources for students from historically marginalized communities to get tips on how to find work where your intersecting identities are valued and you are supported to thrive.
- Review hard information such as data gathered from your online research, alongside soft information such as advice or tips from informational interviews.
Access the hidden job market
The hidden job market refers to jobs that are not posted or advertised online. This happens for many reasons. It may be that employers are trying to save money or it could also be that they prefer to find candidates through referrals. What is important to know is that you can access it.
Employers spend about 80 percent of their time searching for candidates through their networks, so it is important to prioritize networking or developing relationships with professionals in your preferred field.
Watch this short video to learn more about the hidden job market, as well as additional job search strategies to consider.
Remember priorities change over time
There may be times when you find the job search process particularly challenging, whether that be due to a stagnant or declining economy, being interested in particularly competitive roles, or many other reasons. There may also be times when you have to focus on urgent priorities, like paying rent, that require you to take a survival job. Know that this is both alright and common.
Your career is a life-long journey of consecutive decision making. If you aren’t able to land your dream job now, consider taking other work while continuing to develop your skills in preparation for a future job more aligned with your interests and goals. All experiences offer opportunities to learn, grow, and build professional relationships.
If you are a UBC Vancouver student, you can access LinkedIn Learning to take online courses, develop new skills, and earn certificates to strengthen your employability.
Use your CWL to log into the online job and volunteer board for UBC students and alumni.
Career events and workshops
Whether you're looking to improve your job applications or find resources to help you develop your career, UBC has events and workshops to support you.
If you have questions
Contact the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers for career-related information or to drop in to career advising.