Find your Future Employer in Five Easy Steps!
Texas is home to hundreds of thousands of employers, over 50,000 of which have 20 or more employees. For upcoming graduates with wide-open career prospects, wading through those numbers on the job hunt can seem daunting. Fortunately, your career search doesn’t have to be your sole extracurricular activity during your senior year. With careful planning and strategic thinking, you can narrow down your options and use your time effectively.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a few high-level steps to optimize your search. If you already know you want to apply to certain companies, do so! This list doesn’t necessarily need to be followed in order.
- List the fields and industries you’d like to focus on.
Write down your goals, if it’s helpful, and don’t limit yourself to fields traditionally targeted at your major. To share a personal experience: my business/communication major didn’t stop me from getting a technical role at a global cryptographic solutions company, although it certainly took some soul-searching on my part before deciding it was the right fit (and over eight years later at the same company, it definitely was!).
With that in mind, make sure you can articulate why you belong in a certain field. I often extend interviews to qualified candidates even if their major doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional tech-centric employee, but they must have a great response for the question “why the high-tech industry?”. “I need a job” doesn’t resonate well. Neither does “because it pays well” (the one exception: I love it when applicants for sales roles say this!).
- Identify where you want to work.
Take the time to consider all possibilities when choosing a city to live and work after graduation. It’s easy for many reasons to stay in the city you went to school (that’s what I did) or where your family is from, but be careful not to hurt your prospects by being too restrictive.
For more unique fields, you may have to broaden your horizons nationwide or even internationally. For example, many people wanting to join a hot startup immediately look to Silicon Valley, New York, or Austin, but there are rapidly growing entrepreneurial scenes in Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and even Pittsburgh.
- Decide the types of companies you want to work for.
Finding a culture that fits is the most important part of the job search. No matter where you work, you’re going to spend a huge portion of your life there, so you should make certain you love the work you do and can bond with the people you work with.
There are a lot of criteria that you can consider, but here are a few suggestions to help you narrow down the playing field:
- Nonprofit versus for-profit
- Public vs private sector
- Large vs small
- Established vs startup
4. Choose the companies you want to apply to.
In the spirit of working smarter rather than just harder, use the priorities you defined above to build this list. There are many ways to do this, but as one quick-and-easy suggestion: hunt down the various top workplaces awards in your desired city or state. This will likely give you dozens of great companies to kick-start your search with.
For Texas alone, here are a few lists that are worth glancing through for anyone with a broadly focused career trajectory:
- Fortune: 50 Best Workplaces in Texas
- Great Place to Work – Best Places to Work in Texas
- Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 Places to Work in DFW
- The Business Journal – Best Places to Work – San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Dallas
This barely scratches the surface too. There are other resources that can get you quick results as well, including Handshake within UTSA and third-party sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Stack Overflow (great for software developers!), and more.
- Plan how to sell yourself.
This is where the real work starts! Positioning yourself in front of the companies you want to work for is an art, not a science. It takes persistence and sometimes even creativity. Aside from the standard step of submitting resumes via online applications, there numerous ways to get traction in your job search:
- Handshake, first and foremost, as a resource full of companies that specifically are interested in recruiting from UTSA. The same applies to all on-campus events, including career fairs, information sessions, on-campus interviews, and more.
- Networking, networking, networking. Friends, faculty/staff/administrators, contacts from internships, alumni, everyone is fair game. Use shared connections to your advantage!
- Social media (in particular, LinkedIn)
- Third-party sites like the ones listed earlier in this post
Each of the bullets above could justify an hour-long discussion on their own, but what’s important is to take a multifaceted approach.
At times, the job search can challenge your patience, especially when you’ve spent hours submitting online applications with little response (and let’s face it, even in 2017, too many companies still ask you to attach a resume and re-type most of its contents into their proprietary forms). Stick with it, don’t get discouraged, and don’t give in to the temptation to settle for a company that doesn’t help you achieve your goals. Above all else, remember that your search is just as much about deciding if a company is the right fit for you as it is for the company to decide you’re the right fit for them.