Concordia University

Blog post

Tools to Kick Start Your Job Search

March 14, 2019
By GradProSkills


As grad students, a lot of emphasis is put on developing our research skills and the competencies that come with it: academic writing and synthesizing academic information. We forget to develop the skills needed for the job search process that comes after our studies. In our recent workshop with Kristel Kabigting, Career Advisor with Concordia’s Career and Planning Services (CAPS), she shared with us a few must-know job search strategies.

1. Know yourself

Before you start contacting any potential employers, it’s essential to reflect upon what you are looking for.  Also, make sure that this aligns with what is being communicated in your online presence, such as your LinkedIn profile or a google search of yourself.

  • Know your interests: What sorts of tasks do you enjoy doing? Which industry would you like to work in? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Know your employment needs: What kind of job conditions fit your lifestyle? Are you looking for a 9-5 job or a more flexible schedule? Considering your personal obligations, are you able to move or travel for work? Do you have any physical or workplace constraints?
  • Know your strengths: Brainstorm your hard skills (acquired through education or specialization) and soft skills (gained from work experience, internships, volunteer, or life experience). Then reflect on how your skills are transferable - how can your skills help an employer meet the goals of their organization? Know what you’re good at and market yourself appropriately.

2. Find out what skills employers need

Research what your potential employers are looking for and draw parallels to what you can offer them. This will help you tailor your resume and cover letter, and ultimately, stand out. Here are some resources to learn more about employer needs:

3. Explore what organizations exist, both big and small, public and private

Make a targeted list of organizations that you like and want to keep on your radar for new job or networking opportunities. Follow them and contact them, and don’t forget to update your list regularly. You can meet with a Career Advisor at CAPS to receive a list of employers who have advertised positions in your field of study. Here is a list of resources to help you uncover who might be hiring and should be on your list.  

4. Conquer the hidden job market

The visible market includes many of the resources provided above, which are jobs postings that are made public online. However, it is often quoted that the visible market represents only 20% of available positions.  You need to also tap into the 80% hidden job market, so get ready to network. Here are some tips:

  • Network effectively. Your network is bigger than you think it is. Reach out but be specific in what you want before you start networking. Be ready to instinctively answer the questions: “What do you want?” and “What do you got?”
  • Build a relationship. Focus on conveying interest and building a relationship before asking for a job. Your contact will need to know and trust you before recommending you for a role in their organization.
  • Reach out to your friends, family, alumni, previous employers, previous organizations you volunteered for, etc. Drop them a quick “How are you?” and let them know you are job searching and what you are looking for.
  • Network traditionally by attending formal networking functions (career fairs, conferences, chamber of commerce events) to make new professional connections.
  • Contact employers directly (from your targeted employers list). Send a prospecting letter to the company with your resume. This letter is like a cover letter, but with more background research on the company. You can send this letter to the head of the department you would want to work in.


Remember to apply some of these tools when looking for jobs to effectively help in your application process. Happy searching!

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