UW Graduate School

June 14, 2018

Phase three of the job search: Assessing the job search strategies

Note: This article is the third in a series of posts about job searching. You can find the first post, on self-assessing your application materials, here. And be sure to check out the second post, on assessing your career interests.

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’s we’ll focus on the three core strategies for a job search. 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 three: Assess the three core strategies for a job search— job boards, employer sourcing and networking — and decide which strategies (likely a combination) you’ll employ.

  1. Job boards

  • Identify the job boards that are most appropriate for the kind of work you are looking for (see below).
  • Identify keywords to use in your search. On LinkedIn, look at profiles of people in industries you are interested in to help you pull out keywords people use to describe their work and experiences.


  • Narrow down the key words you’re using to just a few, targeted searches.
  • Set up searches so sites like Indeed will send a run-down of jobs that appeared in the week with certain keywords.
  • Visit a job board one to three times per week.

DON’T: Log in to job boards every day.

Examples of job boards:

  • Husky Jobs: a database internal to the UW that includes only local employers looking to hire UW grads. Applications through this site go directly to employers, not through a portal.
  • Indeed.com
  • USA Jobs (government-specific),
  • Industry-specific job boards, such as Idealist
  • Professional associations often have job boards and postings
  1. Employer Sourcing

  • Build a list of companies you’re interested in. Use LinkedIn to identify companies that do similar work you may not have previously known about.
  • Attend events put on by these companies and follow them on LinkedIn.
  • Check their website directly for events and job postings.
  1. Networking (the most effective strategy!)

  • Getting hired through referrals from a friend, peer, colleague, etc.
  • This is the best strategy to get unstuck from a job search
  • Networking takes longer to get responses than job boards but has a higher payoff
  • 70–80% of jobs are filled via networking

Where to network:

  • A career talk or career fair: Here you can meet recruiters who looking to fill specific positions at a company.
  • An informational interview, perhaps more accurately described as a “career conversation.” This is when you reach out to someone doing work you are interested in. At the interview, you’re not asking for a job, but instead asking questions about work environment, activities and advice. Most importantly, you’ll be building a personal connection with someone who may refer you for a job or tell you about opportunities down the road. At informal industry or recreational events like Science on Tap, a trivia night, or the cycling team.
  • The UW Alumni LinkedIn tool

Top strategies for getting unstuck from the job search:

  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position you apply to.
  • Practice for interviews.
  • Tend toward doing fewer applications of higher quality than pumping out a dozen (or dozens) of applications in a week. For some people, two to three well-crafted applications in one week is best. Five to six applications is good for skilled writers.
  • Expect that it will take around two to three months (sometimes longer) to find a job. Be sure to keep networking during this time!

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 →