Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Job Search Strategies

The board game Risk is a game of global domination, where the object is to take over the world. Only one player gets to conquer the planet, you have to beat everyone else to it, and you need a strategy to do it. That’s kind of what a job search is like. While your goal may not be world domination, the search takes just about the same amount of energy and strategy—and only one person will get the job you’re after.

There are ways to make the full-time burden of a job search more effective. It helps if you have a goal in mind, stay organized, and incorporate a variety of methods and follow-up. It’s not enough to simply apply to positions listed on the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services web site (www.rit.edu/co-op/careers). You need to actively seek out your own opportunities as well. Your job search is not complete unless you identify and contact employers on your own which can mean doing research and targeting companies that are doing the kind of work you wish to do.


  • Stay open and flexible.
  • Consider all of your options.
  • Consider the merits of each opportunity before you react to its location.
  • Do not let concerns about housing limit your job search.
  • It may be difficult to conduct a serious job search long-distance if you plan to move to a particular area after graduation. Consider a trip to the area and let potential employers know that you will be in their area and perhaps you can arrange to meet to discuss your qualifications during that time.


  • Advisement – Your program coordinator in the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services can help you prepare for a job search and work with you to develop a personal job search plan.
  • On-campus interviews – Employers come on campus to recruit for co-op and full-time openings fall, winter and spring quarters. If you meet the employer’s qualifications, you can submit your resume for consideration online. If not a close match, you can contact them to see if they would consider speaking with you during their visit to RIT. Sign up for co-op and full-time interviews on RIT Job Zone.
  • Online job postings  – You can view and apply to co-op job openings or full-time job openings on the RIT Job Zone.
  • Career fairs – Our office hosts a number of fairs throughout the year. Look for information about our office-sponsored career fairs under ‘Events’ on our site.
  • Employer information sessions – Employers often visit campus to give presentations about their companies and openings. These are open to everyone and are a nice opportunity to talk with a company representative. Information can be accessed through the RIT Job Zone.
  • Alumni Network – It can be very helpful to connect with RIT alumni. Alumni Relations (www.rit.edu/alumni) can provide lists of alumni upon request and seniors and alumni have access to the Alumni Online Community. The Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services also has established a network of alumni willing to be contacted on a variety of job search topics.
  • Professional Network – A feature in Job Zone allows you to search a list of RIT Alumni and friends of the Institute who have volunteered to provide tips and advice.


In order to uncover potential openings that match up with your qualifications, it is important to do some research. Use a variety of resources when researching companies and do not fall into the trap of targeting only high profile organizations or obvious industries. Your dream job may be with a company you never heard of – until you did that valuable research.


Now you have identified the organization you would like to approach about the possibility of a job – you need to be ready with a great resume and cover letter. You will use this documentation to convince potential employers that you are worth consideration. Remember to ask your program coordinator for constructive criticism before finalizing your materials.


We suggest that you send a company your resume and cover letter before telephoning or visiting. Your goal is to develop enough interest to get a personal interview. Catching the company off guard on the phone or in person may generate an impulsive “No Thanks”. If you think the employer is not familiar with RIT and/or the co-op program, send them pertinent information geared towards employers on our site www.rit.edu/recruit). This provides a brief description of RIT and the particular academic program and can be sent with your resume. Also, feel free to ask for assistance from your program coordinator.


Employers who list positions with the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services are busy and usually get a significant number of students applying for each position. Therefore, it is often simply not enough to apply electronically or mail your resume, and wait for an employer to contact you. In order to be successful, you must follow up with each employer who receives your resume. This crucial step in the job search process could mean the difference between success and failure in your search!

As a rule, if you have not received a response to your letter and resume within ten business days after the deadline date, you should follow-up with a phone call or email. Most managers appreciate a follow-up call as it shows a sincere and continued interest in their company. Keep in mind that the hiring process in large organizations can be lengthy. During this process, if a manager really wants you, he or she may be concerned that you have lost interest. So, it is a good idea to let the company know that you are still a candidate. Telephone follow-up will also give you an opportunity to personalize your candidacy, generate an interest in your qualifications, and get you the interview!

How often you should call is a two-sided coin. If you call too many times, you can be labeled a pest, and this will work against you. If you do not call back often enough, another more aggressive candidate may beat you. If you really want the job, and you think you have a chance, call up to two or three times. If the manager does not seem interested, then move on to more promising prospects.

Follow-Up Call

Planning what you want to discuss and developing a strategy to steer the conversation toward those topics is key. To prepare for a follow-up call, you should:
1. Prepare the opening statement you will use to introduce yourself.
2. List the key topics you want to discuss, such as highlights of your background.
3. List the information you have learned about the company through your research and contacts.
4. Have a copy of your resume in front of you for reference purposes.
5. Anticipate the employer's possible responses and prepare specific replies for each.
After making follow-up calls, write down the results you obtained and your reactions to the conversation. 

Telephone Anxiety

The idea of calling employers that you do not know probably sounds like a good idea in theory, but few people are comfortable picking up the phone and calling strangers. You must prepare and be persistent. Business people are busy, and even your father’s best friend may not respond to repeated phone calls. Stay with it!  Accept that you will start out a little shaky, with a degree of uncertainty, on your initial calls.  As you progress, you will begin to develop your own technique. After each call, analyze what you said and what the reply was – what worked and what did not work.

Telephone Technique Tips

  • Never be anything but extra nice to office staff. They have incredible power over the information and the people who get through to decision-makers. You want them as allies, not enemies.
  • Do not take a lack of a return call personally, and do not mistake it for a lack of interest.
  • Leave a detailed message with the secretary or voice mail if you do not get through.
  • If after several calls you have not gotten a return call, ask the secretary for advice. (Example:  “I have been calling Ms. Jones for several days, and I have not been able to get her attention. Do you have any suggestions for me about how I might be more effective in trying to reach her?) 
  • Try calling early in the morning or late in the day
  • Be direct. Put a smile in your voice, and speak as if you expect to be put through. (“Good morning. Is Ms. Jones in?  This is Ed Smith calling.)
  • If you have sent a message stating that you will contact Ms. Jones, you can say in all honesty, “Yes, she is expecting my call.”
  • If the secretary asks you what your call is regarding...say, “I sent her a message earlier in the week, and I am calling to follow-up.”
  • You will not succeed on every attempt and you should not expect to!

Rochester Institute of Technology Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services
57 Lomb Memorial Drive · Rochester, NY 14623 · (585) 475-2301


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