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Intentional Career Planning

No matter what career you plan to pursue after earning your graduate degree, being proactive in the career development process and using your time strategically while enrolled in graduate school will enhance your career success. Getting an early start with the steps outlined below can prove instrumental to success, and can make the difference between falling into a job because it’s available—and finding an intentional match that meets your professional desires.

Orientation (beginning of your program)

Orient yourself to the career and professional development resources offered by:

  • Your department
  • Career Center
  • Alumni Association
  • Graduate School
  • Counseling Center
  • Library system
  • Many other centers, offices, and programs

Self assessment (beginning of your program and beyond)

Learn more about who you are and what you want out of life. It’s important to know your:

  • Strengths
  • Work & life values
  • Decision-making style
  • Interests
  • Sources of motivation
  • Geographic preferences

Career exploration (beginning and middle of your program)

Learn more about the career paths you are considering. Be sure to explore:

  • Different employment sectors that offer careers that interest you (academia, corporate, non-profit, government, self-employment, etc.)
  • A variety of job titles and responsibilities
  • Salary and job outlook information

Try exploring careers using three methods

  • Reading about careers
  • Talking to people in careers that interest you (informational interviews)
  • Experiencing careers (volunteering, internships, etc.)

Focus on the essentials (middle of your program)

Get serious about making yourself marketable for career paths of interest. Secure the necessary:

  • Coursework
  • Experiences
  • Skills
  • Contacts

Job market preparation (middle and end of your program)

Start preparing yourself for the job market. Do what it takes to feel confident about your:

  • Job search plan
  • Cover letter
  • Interviewing skills
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Portfolio
  • Negotiating skills

Job search preliminaries (9–12 months prior to degree completion)

Look for employment using a variety of strategies.

  • Asking professors, classmates, alumni, colleagues, and contacts for referrals
  • Connecting with and joining professional organizations
  • Applying to campus, general, and niche job boards
  • Attending career fairs and similar events

Transition to a job/start a career (end of your program)

Prepare to exit the university and start another adventure.

  • Thank those who helped you in your academic success and your job search
  • Read books, attend workshops, and participate in groups related to the transition process
  • Start your new job
  • Reflect on your job responsibilities, work environment, standard of living, relationships, mental and physical health, and leisure activities

References guides.html GetStartedEarly.aspx

by Briana K. Randall, associate director, UW Career Center

Preparing for Your Career

Planning for the right type of job

Start early. Finding time to devote to your career planning is not easy. But early exploration and preparation are crucial for later success.

Think broadly. Explore different ways to use your graduate degree. In addition to teaching and research inside and outside of the academy, consider jobs in government, the non-profit sector, and industry. Informational interviews with people in different jobs and working in different kinds of institutions can help you make the career decisions that are best for you. Following the business press (e.g., The Wall Street Journal) or trade publications specific to your discipline can help you learn about many issues relevant to your chosen field and what trends are shaping that field.

Understand what you want. The best job is one that is right for you. Know what you want out of your career — in academia or elsewhere. Have a career vision and link your goals to the preparation that you will need for being a standout candidate. Having a career plan will help you think about which publications, presentations, and activities you can do to show that you are right for the type of job that you want.

Position yourself for the market. Focus on cultivating professional relationships with your committee members, demonstrating professionalism to them, and doing quality work—regardless of the type of job you want to secure. After all, your committee members and references are asked to comment on multiple facets of you as an applicant, not just your writing, research, teaching, or organizational skills.

Planning for an academic job

The above principles apply especially to academic jobs, the preparation for which involves very long cycles. Decisions about research presentations and publications need to be made years before you go on the market. For example, in order to give a presentation on your dissertation research before you go on the market, you will need to have a paper ready for submission often a full year before job application deadlines. To have an article listed on your vita for the academic job market as “in press,” it should be under review by the January before you go on the market at the very latest. Cultivating a professional reputation in the field, in advance, will help you significantly when you go on the market.

Successful academic searches

Match skills and interests to the position. Early planning will help you get your ideal job. Interested in research-oriented positions? Having a publication record of your own and collaborating with faculty will help you here. Demonstrate distinction in teaching as well as research on your vita. Want to stay open to industry? Working on consulting projects during graduate school will help you build a portfolio of projects and skills that translate easily outside of the academy.

Communicate clearly and effectively. Each advertised academic job can yield more than 100 applications. Help the search committee understand what you might bring to the department, what makes your work interesting, and how you fit the advertised position—don’t make busy people hunt for buried information. Compelling cover letters are crucial! Work with your advisers on the best way to communicate your skills, achievements, and interests in your application materials. Pay particular attention to grammar, style, and formatting in all materials as your attention to details reflects upon your ability to be a professional scholar.

Help your letter writers help you. By communicating your interests clearly, providing copies of materials, and allow- ing ample time, you can help your letter writers write better, more detailed recommendations for you. Remember, we’re all busy—make sure you help your letter writers understand your deadlines and give them ample time to do a good job. Be sure to ask your chair for personal introductions to people at the schools where you are applying.

Remember: It’s about the fit

Hopefully your job search will be successful the first time out. If it isn’t—don’t despair! Use the time to push yourself back into your work and into the preparation for the next cycle of applications. Remember, this is a process that matches your skills and interests with the needs of an organization or department—it might take a while to find the perfect job match for you.

by Gina Neff, associate professor, Communication

Academic Job Offer and Salary Negotiations

Some graduate students may fear the negotiation process because they have little or no experience negotiating a job offer. Here are tips for negotiating a starting package that can maximize your personal and professional satisfaction as a future faculty member.

Collect information

  • Ask faculty in your department what they think would be a fair package.
  • Research average faculty salaries online by state and institution.
  • Check the websites of professional associations in your field for academic salary information.

Always negotiate

  • When you’re offered a position, the balance of power shifts in your favor. As a result, you will likely never be in a better position to get what you want.
  • Departments expect you to negotiate.
  • Do not assume anything. Ask questions.

Maintain a positive attitude

  • The way you negotiate sets the stage for future interactions with your colleagues. Strive for a win-win situation. The hiring committee and your supervisor want you to be happy with your starting package.
  • Be professional, courteous, appreciative, ethical — and firm.
  • Be willing to compromise and accept “no” as an answer.

Frame your requests appropriately

  • Frame your requests in terms of what you need to be optimally successful and productive at the institution.
  • Focus on the value you will bring to the department.

Think broadly

  • Always ask for a higher salary! Your starting salary has a big impact on your overall lifetime earnings because raises are calculated from your base (starting) salary.
  • Evaluate other aspects of an offer so you know what you’re getting yourself into: relocation expenses, confer- ence money, office space, lab equipment, job responsi- bilities, student and staff support, healthcare, retirement, family benefits, etc.
  • Try not to get so excited about having a job offer that you forget to think about the future.


  • Pick your battles—prioritize what’s important to you and then only negotiate the things about which you feel strongly.
  • Ask yourself “What do I need to be happy, be produc- tive—and get tenure?”
  • Distinguish between what is absolutely necessary for you and what would be nice to have, but extra.

Get it in writing

  • When you receive the official offer letter, make sure it agrees with what was discussed during the negotiation process.
  • If the letter contains inaccurate information or is missing vital items, ask for an updated letter.
  • If you agree to the terms, sign the letter, make a copy of it, and promptly return the original.
  • Do not consider yourself hired until you and your employer have both signed a written document.


Golde, C. (2001). Be honorable and strategic. Science Careers.

Heiberger, M. M., & Vick, J. M. (2001). The academic job search handbook. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Reis, R. (1999). The right start-up package for beginning science professors. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

by Briana K. Randall, associate director, UW Career Center

A Dozen Sentences that Should Appear in Your Academic Job Application Letter

When you apply for an academic job, your cover letter helps a hiring committee interpret your curriculum vitae and conveys your excitement about and dedication to your work.

Your mission is to land an academic job. The immediate goal is to use the cover letter to get you on two shortlists — the shortlist of a dozen people who will be invited to submit more writing samples and have references checked, followed by the shortlist of three or four people who will be invited to visit the hiring department.

Cover letters should include 12 pieces of information that hiring committees are seeking:

  1. “I would like to be considered for the position of [title copied from job ad] in [exact department name from job ad] at the [exact institution name from job ad]. I am an advanced doctoral candidate in [your department].”
    This opening should be short and can certainly vary. The odds are that you will submit for many jobs, be shortlisted for a few, and be offered one or two. In all the cutting and pasting, make sure these letters are correctly addressed to the chair of the search committee or the chair of the department.
  2. “My doctoral project is a study of [cocktail party description]. Much of the research on this topic suggests that [characterize the literature as woefully inadequate]. But I [demonstrate, reveal, discover] that contrary to received wisdom, [your punch line].”
    This is the key statement about your doctoral project. Demonstrate how you will contribute to an intellectual conversation that is larger than your project – but unable to advance without your findings. The next paragraph should detail your research with one sentence on each chapter in your manuscript.
  3. “To complete this research I have spent [X years] doing [fieldwork / lab work / archival work / statistical analysis]. I have travelled to [these cities or libraries], interviewed [X number of experts], created [original datasets/original compositions/original artwork].”
    This sentence should be followed by a paragraph with the story of your research process. Overwhelm the committee with the volume of artifacts you’ve studied, people you’ve talked to, time you have dedicated or places you’ve been.
  4. “I have completed [X] of [Y] chapters of my dissertation, and I have included two substantive chapters as part of my writing sample.”
    Many hiring committees expect their top candidates to be almost finished with the doctoral project, since the dissertation is a test of commitment to a research trajectory. Ideally, the review committee will be excited by your original research and beg you for more once you are on a short list. Your mentors should confirm this information in their letters.
  5. “I have well-developed drafts of several other chapters, and expect to defend in [month, year]. OR Having defended in [month, year], I plan to [turn it into a book-length manuscript for a major scholarly press / select key chapters for publication in disciplinary journals].”
    Your advisors will also confirm these things. Committees want to know that your defense will not take place while you are working on their coin. If any of your committee members are unwilling to commit to even a season of the year for your defense date, or you don’t have two substantive chapters to submit to the hiring committee, it’s too early for you to be on the academic job market.
  6. “Although my primary area of research is [disciplinary keyword here], I have additional expertise in [another disciplinary keyword here] and am eager to teach in both areas. I have [taught/served as a teaching assistant] in courses about [A, B and C]. In the next few years, I hope to develop courses in [X and Y].”
    Departments love hiring people who can teach several topics. Look up the courses offered in the department to which you are applying, and use their keywords. Although the hiring committee will take research fit as most important, teaching skills and interests will be taken seriously. Specify courses in which you served as a teaching assistant and those in which you were the instructor of record.
  7. “For the most part, my approach to research is through [social science or humanistic method keyword here], and I would be interested in developing a methods class on this approach to research.”
    Many departments struggle to find faculty who will teach methods classes, and signaling your interest likely will put you ahead. Job candidates are particularly valuable if they demonstrate how they cross methodological boundaries, appreciate diverse approaches to inquiry, and can contribute to advancing knowledge with different analytical frames.
  8. “Although I have been focused on my graduate research for several years, I have been actively involved in conversations with [scholars in the department you are applying to, or scholars at other universities/professional associations/conferences/other disciplines].”
    This can be the one paragraph about service, highlighting conferences you’ve attended, workshops you’ve organized, and other ways you’ve supported your discipline. If you are applying for work in a department that is different from the one that trained you, demonstrate how you already have affinities for the new discipline, such as showing that you are familiar with faculty interests.
  9. “In the next few years, I hope to be able to investigate [reasonably related problems or questions].”
    Address your research trajectory over the next five years. The department will be investing in the person they hire, so the hiring committee will look for the direction your research will take. Communicate future research possibilities eloquently; don’t leave the committee to assume you will be doing more of the same.
  10. “I am interested in this post for a variety of reasons: [something about the character of the department/university/community/city].”
    The committee will be happy that you know something about the place you want to work. This may be particularly true for colleges and universities with distinct liberal arts traditions or unique community programs, or are not located in major urban areas. A committee might not interview you if the members believe you would not seriously consider a job offer.
  11. “Because of my graduate training, my doctoral research, and my teaching [experience/interests], I am uniquely qualified for this job.”
    Within a few sentences address your general focus and course work, and point to your experience teaching in the domains mentioned in the job description. Write a brief statement on why you are uniquely qualified for the job.
  12. “In the next few months, I will be attending the [conference A] and [conference B]. If you or your colleagues are also planning to attend, I would be happy to meet for an informal conversation.”
    Many departments make their first short list phone interviews or informal conference visits. Alert the committee if you are giving a paper so they can see you in action.

These sentences are in roughly the order they should appear in for applications to jobs at research schools. Most of the content should be about research, followed by one or two paragraphs about teaching and perhaps one paragraph about service. If the job is mostly about teaching, expand the amount of space dedicated to that topic.

Shoot for two and a half pages of content: less than that and you might not seem like an advanced doctoral candidate well immersed in a project; more than that and committee members may stop reading. As you write, drop in the names of granting agencies that have supported you, or the journals that are publishing or reviewing your work. Ideally several faculty members will write letters on your behalf. If possible, at least one letter writer can come from a university other than yours. Hiring committees love reference letters on different university letterheads; it shows that you have social capital beyond your home department.

Address your letter to the person heading the search or the department head. A greeting such as “Dear Committee Members” shows you haven’t done enough research. Ask a friend proofread your document for grammar and spelling.

Finally, follow up with the department. Hiring committees do not always tell candidates whether they are on the short list. If you finish another dissertation chapter, or get an article published, a few weeks after submitting your letter, submit an update by e-mail and ask that this example be added to your file and where the committee is in the hiring process.

by Philip N. Howard, professor, Communication

Thinking about your own path and preparation

In a typical year, our summer schedules often allow us some space to step back, reflect, and focus on our own professional development. We hope that as we continue to respond to and slowly recover from the current pandemic, you will find a little time to focus on yourself as you prepare for the future. While these are admittedly uncertain times, it’s clear that now more than ever, the world needs well-educated, reasoned and experienced thinkers and innovators to help guide us through the recovery and into the future – this sounds like a description of UW postdocs!

In the past, we’ve shared advice on pursuing your passion projectsidentifying your unique skills, and crafting documents for a successful job application. Here, we’d like to share two exceptional resources which allow you to both explore and enhance your skills and professional development: LinkedIn Learning and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE).

LinkedIn Learning: The UW Career and Internship Center has purchased a license for full access to LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning is a collection of online videos to help you enhance and develop skills. Importantly, everyone with a UW NetID can access the resources. Spend some time exploring the site to get advice for your next career step, including:

NIH OITE: The NIH OITE has responded to COVID-19 by making much of their internal professional development activities open to the public. While some admittedly have a scientific focus, many workshops on wellness and career and professional development are broadly applicable to the academic community (and beyond). Feel free to register (for free) for one of their upcoming workshops. We were particularly impressed with the following seminars:

As a postdoc, it is imperative that you carve out some time to focus on YOU: assess what skills you have already developed and focus on how best to promote them. Equally as important, take the time to determine which skills and experiences you still need to develop as you prepare for your next career step. We encourage you to explore both LinkedIn Learning and the NIH OITE resources in your own time. And as always, we, the UW Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), continue to be available for consultation and support as you navigate these difficult times.

Is the job right for me?

Postdocs are often so busy trying to complete the next experiment or write the next draft of a manuscript (and hopefully get it published!), that we don’t have sufficient time to plan for the next stage of our careers. Usually, we start with reading job announcements, preparing our application materials, and then hoping to get invited for interviews. However, the preparation tends to stop there. What are the next steps after receiving an interview invitation or a job offer? How can you assess whether or not the job would be a good fit before making a final decision?

The easiest way to start learning about what a company or academic department really stands for is by performing an extensive on-line review of their website, specifically focusing on their mission and values statements. Do they match with your values? Importantly, you need to determine if these statements are simply the product of a leadership retreat or are engrained in the day-to-day operations of the company or department. To delve deeper, you can either reach out to people working at the company (e.g., connect via your LinkedIn network and ask for an informational interview) or ask specific questions during your interview to get an understanding of the real culture of the group you’ll be joining. As outlined by Robert Walters (How to tell if a company’s culture is right for you), consider asking the following questions during your interview:

  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • What would a typical day-to-day look like?
  • What’s your favorite part about your job? What is the least?
  • Do people engage in team activities together?
  • Who would I be working the closest with and would it be possible to meet them?
  • What key traits are essential for filling this role?

Finally, the average US worker changes jobs 12 times in their career (Doyle, 2019, How often do people change jobs). Therefore, when evaluating a particular job and setting up your pros vs. cons list, the expectation that this job will be “your forever” job is unrealistic. It is simply “your next” job – a place where you will continue to grow, learn, and prepare for future impact and opportunities. In fact, doctoral degree holders should think of their career as a book with multiple, yet to be determined chapters (Golde, 2019, Careers go in chapters). In the future, when we look back on the totality of our career, we will likely be able to tell a nice, linear story. However, as of now, the individual chapters of our career and life have not been predetermined … the best we can do at this point is to be prepared when the next new and exciting opportunity presents itself. Therefore, do your best to learn new skills, look for new directions, and be prepared for the future.

Summer Tips for Your Career Development

Summer is as good a time as any to invest in your professional development! Whether you already have your eyes set on the job of your dreams or are considering a range of career paths, there are several activities that can help you reach your professional goals. Below are a just a few to get your started.

Use a career assessment or career exploration tool. Career assessments can help you identify your strengths, skills, and values in relation to jobs that pique your interest. These assessments can also help you narrow down particular fields or industries that are a match with your career goals. If you’re in the humanities or social sciences, consider checking out the career exploration tool called ImaginePhD (master’s students can use this as well). If you’re in the STEM disciplines, try out myIDP Science Careers. Both tools are free!

Lead informational interviews. An informational interview is an informal conversation with a professional working in a field of interest to you. It is an opportunity for you to engage in a meaningful conversation to hear and learn about an individual’s career trajectory, knowledge of a particular industry, additional networking referrals, and more. These insights can help you make informed choices during your job search. The Career and Internship Center on the Seattle campus refers to an informational interview as a career conversation.

Be a volunteer or intern. If you’re exploring a range of career paths, consider being a volunteer or intern on a short-term basis. Explore paid and unpaid internship opportunities listed on Handshake (a free service for UW students). If being a volunteer or intern involves too much of a time commitment for you and your schedule, considering setting up a job shadow experience to get a feel for a particular profession. Keep in mind that being a volunteer or intern to gain professional experience is neither extra-curricular nor a distraction to writing a thesis or dissertation — these work experiences can help you gain skills and make you a stronger candidate for jobs outside of academia. Here’s another article about pursuing internships while being a graduate student. 

Read job postings. Reading job listings are important to career exploration. Derek Attig has come up with several self-reflective strategies that make perusing job ads less tedious and more useful. Ask yourself the following questions: (1) Can I imagine myself doing the tasks required for this job? (2) Do the values of the employer resonate with my own? (3) What might I dislike about the job I am reading about? (4) Am I on board with the mission of the employer?

We encourage you to take the time to invest in your professional development this summer and let us know what career tips work for you! Finally, you are receiving this newsletter based on your affiliation as a new or returning graduate student at the University of Washington. If you wish to unsubscribe from this newsletter, please click here and visit this blog post for directions on managing your subscription preferences.

Core Programs—Office of Graduate Student Affairs
UW Graduate School

Investing in Career Exploration

Happy New Year, and welcome to the start of winter quarter! We hope you set aside time during the break to relax, to have fun, and to acknowledge the milestones you’ve achieved in grad school thus far, no matter how big or small. We know that the first week of the quarter can feel overwhelming. Even so, we encourage you to be proactive about career exploration and carve out just one hour (or even 30 minutes) per week to invest in your future.

Explore your options. Whether you’re just beginning to think about a career path, committed to landing that ultimate dream job, or considering a few professions — taking a step back to assess your professional skills and interests will help you affirm or concretely identify your options. Assessments can help you reflect on questions like, “Does the mission of the organization I would like to work for resonate with my values?,” “What am I looking for in a job or career?,” or “What skills do I bring to the job I am applying to, and what competencies would I like to gain if I were hired?” Below are just a few career assessments and resources to get you started.

– Self-Assessment: Values
– Identify Your Strengths
– Graduate Student Professional Skills and Competencies Checklist
– Career Preparation Toolkit for Grad Students and Postdocs

Expand your connections. One of the most important aspects of successful career planning is building your professional network. You can grow your network by meeting individuals at conferences, joining professional associations and attending social and community events. Individuals in your network are invaluable for a number of reasons. They can share first-hand information about what it’s like to work in their professions and industries. They can impart job search insights (e.g. You could ask them, “If you were entering the field now, what would you do differently to prepare for your career?”). They can refer you to potential employment opportunities that you can apply to now or in the future (note: Did you know that 70–80 percent of jobs are not officially posted anywhere?). Check out these informational resources on networking.

– Career Conversations (aka “informational interviews”)
– An Introvert’s Guide to Networking
– How to Network at Events

Embark on identifying and building your skills. Career exploration also entails being able to identify and develop your professional skills whether you are master’s or doctoral student. As outstanding UW graduate students, you are already honing a range of transferable skills that you can utilize in future careers. Take an inventory of the skills you have gained from past and current jobs and volunteer experiences so you can tailor your resume or CV for specific job applications. If there are skills you’d like to develop, and you can dedicate the time, consider being a volunteer or intern at organizations that pique your interests. If you haven’t done so already, join Handshake, the UW’s online job and internship database.
We hope these career exploration strategies work for you — and don’t forget to connect with your campus’ career center for additional support and resources.


Core Programs—Office of Graduate Student Affairs
UW Graduate School

Identifying your career interests: Phase two of three in the job search

Note: This article is the second in a series of posts about job searching. You can find the first post, on self-assessing your application materials, here.

The academic year has flown by, and some grad students are graduating and approaching an exciting new phase in the working world: others are continuing their education and looking for summer work in-between. But what if you don’t have a job lined up, and are unsure of how to get started?

Lucky for you, the Guru attended a workshop detailing an approach to the job search, taught by Caitlin Goldbaum, career coach at the Career & Internship Center. The following is an outline of the strategies Caitlin recommends for a successful job search. It is being published in three parts, corresponding to the three phases of the job hunt: (1) self-assess; (2) identify the work you are looking for; (3) assess the three core strategies for job hunting.

This week we focus on phase two: identifying the work you are looking for. Feel free to email the Guru with any questions, or comment below about any self-assessment tools or strategies that have worked for you. Happy hunting, grad students!

Phase two: Identify the kind of work you are looking for to help narrow your selection criteria and tailor your application materials.

Try these steps:

  1. Take stock of your top skills and strengths. These may or may not be related to your area of study.
  2. Identify what you are interested in. Again, this could an area you study or something else.
  3. Describe your ideal work environment — is it in an office or outdoors? People-focused or not people-focused?
  4. What do you want your day-to-day activities to look like?
  5. What is an industry you’re interested in?
  6. >What persuasive essay you are able to consider and write?

Note: Check out blog posts on the Career Services website to help you identify industries you may be interested in and narrow it down.

A few things to keep in mind during this phase (and always):

  • You don’t need to know everything right now.
  • There are a lot of ways to find satisfaction in your career: teammates, day-to-day activities, the mission of a company — think about different ways you might find satisfaction in your career, where your priorities lie, and be open to new information and experiences.
  • Your first job is not the only job you’ll have; most people change jobs six–10 times in their career. But your first job may help you figure out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.

Have a grasp on your interests and career skills? You’re ready for the third and final phase of the job application process: assessing the tools for job hunting. 

Ask the Grad School Guru is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If the guru doesn’t know the answer, the guru will seek out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: The guru is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Submit a question for the column →

Self-assessment: Phase one of three in the job search

The academic year has flown by, and some grad students are graduating and approaching an exciting new phase in the working world: others are continuing their education and looking for summer work in-between. But what if you don’t have a job lined up, and are unsure of how to get started?

Lucky for you, Your Guide attended a workshop detailing an approach to the job search, taught by Caitlin Goldbaum, career coach at the Career & Internship Center. The following is an outline of the strategies Caitlin recommends for a successful job search. It is being published in three parts, corresponding to the three phases of the job hunt: (1) self-assess; (2) identify the work you are looking for; (3) assess the three core strategies for job hunting.

This week’s phase is self-assessment of your job search materials. Feel free to email your Guide with any questions, or comment below about any self-assessment tools or strategies that have worked for you. Happy hunting, grad students!

Phase One: Self-assess your job materials.

Consider each component of your application – resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, and possibly a portfolio – and ask yourself if you they are comprehensive, free of typos and formatting errors and updated for your next job search. Before you start the job search, you should:

  1. Have a strong resume that can be tailored to any job
  • A resume will be necessary for any job application
  • Create a new resume for every job. Highlight your experiences that prepare you for this position
  • Pull out keywords from the job description and try to capture your experiences through the lens of those keywords.
  • Use a variety of action verbs to describe what you did in each experience. Include information about the task, the actions you took, and the result of your work.
  • If your resume isn’t ready, here are a couple good places to start:
    • 15 minute drop-in appointments with the Career Center for resume (or cover letter!) consultation
    • The Career Guide (written by the Career Center) includes templates to help you with layout of your resume. Pro-tip: Don’t download a template from online (they’re dated), create your own in Word.
  1. Be confident that you can write a compelling cover letter
  • Most jobs require a cover letter. If it’s optional, do it.
  • The cover letter gives the employer a “more complete” story of who you are and what experiences have prepared you for the position .
  • A cover letter is a persuasive document. The first paragraph will include a thesis statement on why you are the best candidate for the position
  • The middle paragraph is where you tell a complete story about a past experience connected to the keywords in the job description.
  • The concluding paragraph is where you reiterate your interest, highlight why you are well qualified, and invite the employer to bring you in for an interview to discuss your qualifications further.
  • You’ll create a new cover letter for each job you apply for with different stories from your experience.
  • To answer on the question how to write my essay, just go and buy it, and you will save the time
  1. Regularly utilize LinkedIn for networking
  • LinkedIn is not required, but is highly encouraged: many jobs and industries look for this.
  • Having a LinkedIn allows you to control your online presence.
  • It allows an employer to see the full trajectory of your career.
  1. Have a portfolio that clearly showcases your best work, if-needed. Industries where you may need a portfolio are the arts, journalism, design, architecture, engineering.
  2. Feel comfortable interviewing. Need to practice some interview questions? You can set up a mock interview with the Career Center!

Feeling confident in your job search materials? Move on to the second phase of the job application process — self-assessment of your interests and skills! 

Ask Your Grad School Guide is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If the Guide doesn’t know the answer, the Guide will seek out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: The Guide is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Submit a question for the column →