Often, students visit their career consultant and say that they have one simple goal in mind: “I just want a job.” However, your career development is a very complex process that requires a more focused effort. After all, you don’t just want “a job,” you want a job that will be a good fit for you and your professional goals!

Your time and energy will be much more wisely invested if it is channeled toward a clear objective – the more specific, the better. Here are some tips for beginning that process:

  • Begin by creating a list of employers and job postings that sound interesting to you.
  • Look for common threads in the types of companies you prefer, the work environment, the required skills and experiences, etc.
    • What type of work have you enjoyed in the past? What do you picture as your “ideal” work environment, and why?
  • If you are having a difficult time with a starting point, consider beginning with certain locations that interest you (like a specific city, state, or region).
  • Ask yourself (and be honest): Am I truly qualified for these positions?
    • If not, consider what you are lacking and begin seeking out openings that may provide you with the experience necessary for advancement.
  • Lifestyle expectations: what things do you consider necessary for your own personal and professional happiness?
    • Think about factors such as commuting, social life, salary, student loans/debt payments, family and personal relationships, leisure time, etc.
    • It may be helpful to list all of the considerations and begin to divide them into “needs” and “wants.”
    • Be very honest with yourself about what your “dealbreakers” might be!
    • For help with this process, look over the job comparison chart on the salary and negotiation page.
  • Besides company websites and LinkedIn, you can use the following resources to conduct employer research: (with links)
  • After reflecting on your goals, conducting research, and answering some of the difficult questions listed above, develop a list of target employers.
    • Write down 5, 10, or more employers that you would consider your top choices.
    • Talk to your career consultant for additional ideas on how to proceed or feedback on your target employer list. They may be able to suggest other employers similar to the ones you have listed!

For help understanding your skills, interests, and values from a broader perspective, consider visiting the Majors & Careers page.