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4 Tips to Begin Your Job Search

Posted on August 1, 2020

Today’s job market looks different due to COVID-19: in-person job fairs have been canceled; interviews are almost exclusively via phone, zoom or some other video conferencing platform; and many employers have transitioned to telework. In response, you will need to transition your search to the virtual world: start building a virtual network on LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Instagram, sign up for Handshake, and reach out to your network for informational interviews. Things may look different but the fundamental steps of finding a job are intact.

Define your short- and long-term career goals.

Take some time to develop a picture of the job you are looking for now and how it fits into your career goals, including commute, office culture, salary, professional development opportunities and upward mobility. Make a list of the “non-negotiable” and “nice to have” elements of your picture. Use this list to evaluate whether a job opportunity is right for you. Career Builder and Indeed have articles with additional questions to help you develop your job picture

If you are beginning the search for your first teaching position, there are a few more questions to ask as you begin your job search: Grade level(s)? Public school? Private school? Charter school? What is my teaching style? What support do I need as a new teacher? Other questions to consider when you are looking for your first teaching job can be found in this blog post from Western Governors University.

Create an online presence that aligns with your career goals.

Your online presence defines you; therefore, it is important that you manage what you (and others) have posted about you. Every potential employer will, at the very least, Google your name. Before you submit that first application, Google yourself and review your social media accounts to see what your potential employers will see. Review your tweets/posts, retweets/reposts, photos, likes, and the accounts you follow. Think about the impression they make on someone who doesn’t know you. Business Insider has ideas for what to consider when you review your online presence and Affordable Colleges Online has step-by-step instructions on how to clean up your profiles.

If you don’t use LinkedIn, now is the time to create your profile and start building your professional network. LinkedIn has guidebooks and tip sheets to help university students build a personal professional brand and use LinkedIn to find a job.

Prepare drafts of your professional documents.

As you begin reviewing job listings in your field, take note of whether employers in your field require a resume, cover letter, teaching philosophy statement, and/or portfolio. When you are ready to apply to specific jobs, you should revise your resume or cover letter to highlight your specific skills and experiences that align with the job listing. UNM Career Services has a resume and cover letter guide to help you get started and Clarkson University has a resume guide for potential teachers. In addition to a resume and cover letter many teaching positions will ask you to submit a teaching philosophy statement, which describes your teaching and assessment methods. You can find some tips to get you started here or view the CSS Teaching Philosophy Workshop here. If your field requires a professional portfolio, the CSS has video and pdf tutorials that guide you through producing your portfolio in TK20.

Prepare for interviews

As soon as you submit your first application, begin preparing for interviews. Career services has a concise guide to help you prepare for interviews. Interviewers commonly ask behavioral questions, which usually begin with “tell me about a time” or “give me an example” to get an idea of how you have handled common work situations in the past . The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method is a great way to answer these questions; Career Services has a handout that explains the method in detail and includes examples of questions and answers and a second worksheet will help you prepare STAR answers for 5 of the most common behavioral interview questions. If you are interviewing for a teaching position, Edutopia lists some common teaching interview questions that you should be prepared to answer.

If your interview is online, the tips in this video from Cass Thompson Career Advice will help you make a positive first impression for virtual interviews.

To dress appropriately for the job you want look at the company’s website and social media to get a feel for the way employees dress, then dress one level up for the interview. If you still aren’t sure, ask the person who scheduled your interview. This webpage from the University of Denver has descriptions of the most common work dress codes and links to Pinterest boards with lots of pictures.

Additional UNM resources:

Career Development Facilitators at UNM Career Services are available to help you write and revise your resume, cover letter, or teaching philosophy; prepare for an interview; and advise you on other aspects of your job search. You can set up a virtual appointment by calling 505-277-2531 or by emailing Visit the career services website to find out more about the services they offer.

The Center for Student Success is partnering with Career Services to offer virtual career workshops. Visit our webpage for a list of future offerings and to watch recordings of past workshops.

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