Career Tips

Young Alumni Job Search Part II: Identifying Jobs

By Dave Isbell and Kim Medlock

Last week, we explored the idea of starting your job search by first taking the time to identify what you want, and what you have to offer. This week, we address a few ideas about identifying opportunities.

Job search strategies

Stop looking for a job! I know, it seems like odd advice, but you need the right perspective for this job market. Above all else, you need to wrap your mind around the techniques and tools to find that job that is right for you.

As hard as it is to believe, the majority of available jobs are not posted online. While several databases may be helpful in discovering options and examining general opportunities, it likely won’t lead you to your dream job. There are several other ways to discover job openings:


– Attend Events Focused on Your Career: Industry events are a great way to meet and mingle with new faces in your field. It may seem counter-intuitive to network through those with the job you hope to have, but they can often be your greatest resource for new postings and references.

– Find a Networking Group in Your Area: These are often relatively easy to find and join – many simply ask that you show up and enjoy the events. These are great ways to socialize and expand your network to all corners of the professional world (they can also be a lot of fun!) Try connecting with the MSU Alumni Associations regional alumni clubs to get you started searching for the right people in the right places!

– Perfect that elevator speech! Perfect and practice your introduction

Career Fairs:

Career fairs can be a great way to discover resources for employment and introduce yourself to several major employers in a short period of time. Here are a couple of suggestions for getting ready for a career fair:

Attend a Career Fair Prep Session: To ease your nerves and allow for a bit of practice, Prep Sessions are available for: Strategic Preparation, Self Marketing, 2- Minute Commercial (“elevator speech”), Setting Yourself Apart from the crowds, and proper follow up strategies. Find more information here:

Educate yourself on what recruiters are looking for!

Update your Resume and Bring Several Copies: Your resume is the outline of a potential interview. Ensure it is accurate, updated, and highlights your abilities and achievements.

Relax and SMILE: Don’t be afraid to walk up to potential employers and start a simple conversation. Saying hello, introducing yourself, and providing a few of your qualifications can open the doors for deeper conversation. One thing is for sure: not talking to employers will guarantee you will not receive an interview;

Practice (Mock) Interview. Find someone who has done hiring in the past and practice with him/her. If you are still within two years of graduation, visit and search “mock” (under the jobs tab) for upcoming mock interview opportunities held by the Career Service Network at MSU.

Dress as you would for an interview: Always dress to impress at the fair – a suit or your nicest professional attire is the way to go!

Each one of the strategies can work. However, the best strategy is to combine all of the above and to be clear, concise, and consistent with the message you are sending to employers.

Next week we will talk about using your clear, concise, and consistent message to make an impact while using Social Media as part of your job search campaign.


Dave Isbell is the Alumni Career Service Coordinator at Michigan State University. He has been a Career Coach since 1999. He is also pursuing a Master’s in Social Work/Family Studies at MSU.  When he is not working or studying, he is enjoying domestic bliss with his wife and kids, or playing rock music on his bass guitar. You can find him on Twitter (@helpingspartans) and sometimes he writes about compassion, collaboration, and career for this blog, which he owns and begs other Spartans to write for.

Kim Medlock is a Michigan State University alumnae with degrees in Professional Writing and English. She works as a marketing writer by day, but fancies herself a creative writer by weekend. As a Lansing native who has always preferred writing as an artistic medium — she remains passionately in love with both of these things. 


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: