Job Search & Networking

Job Search Strategies

In this job market, starting and continuing a search can be a daunting task:

  • Identify several industries where you are most likely to find your desired occupation
  • Consider employers, companies, businesses in this industry regardless of location
  • Target similar organizations that are in your geographic region
  • Look for competitors, companies smaller than the initial list

Know Yourself

  • Abilities, interests, values, strengths, weaknesses

Know the Market

  • Research fields, industries, companies, and geographic regions

Sell Yourself

  • Applications, networking, use variety of resources

Job Application Strategies

  • Handshake and On-Campus Interviews
  • Newspaper Want Ads
  • Professional Journals
  • Internet job banks such as USAJobs, Simply Hired, Career Connections, and Monster

Use various sources, apply directly to job openings that are posted. You will need an excellent resume and cover letter.

Targeting Strategy

  • Develop good cover letters
  • Address specific company representatives
  • Target desired jobs whether or not the job is currently open

The key is to target a well-researched list of companies based on your company research.

Networking Strategy

  • LinkedIn
  • Career Fairs and Information Sessions
  • Informational Interviews

Talk to people you know and develop a list of contacts. Utilize Informational Interviews to meet with contacts to gather industry information and to develop more contacts.

Employers Seek Candidates Through:

  • Internal Promotions
  • Personal Referrals
  • College Recruiting (entry-level)
  • Unsolicited Resumes
  • Staffing/Placement Agencies
  • Advertisements

The last place employers look for candidates is the first place candidates look for jobs.

80% of jobs are never advertised because they are filled before the need arises.

Let Career Development Services provide personal coaching (via email, phone and in person) to help you with this difficult process.

  • Evaluate your progress and manage your expectations
  • Analyze your results, talk to a career coach
  • Modify strategies, change inputs
  • Inventory your own job search skills
  • Get help from Career Development Services where needed

Beware of JOB SCAMS!

ODU Handshake employers and job postings are screened by ODU Career Development Services staff but we need you to "watch out" and be aware of job/internships offers that are "too good to be true!"

Not all employment opportunities are legitimate. Based on national information, some scams are posing as potential employers to collect personal information from or to defraud job seekers.

Please report scams to ODU Police Department on Monarch Way (across from ODU Bookstore) or email

Fight Fraud: Common Questions about online Scams

Remember... if you have any questions, talk to a staff member from CDS before pursuing any opportunity. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, contact ODU Police Department

  • Does the company have a website?
  • Does the website match up with the posting?
  • Does the website look legitimate?
  • Look to see if the organization is using a company domain versus a general Gmail or Hotmail account
  • Match the e-mail address to the company domain. Watch for e-mail addresses that are similar looking, but not the same.
  • Look for "stock photos," grammatical errors, and poor use of English language.
  • Be leery of non-approved employment flyers on college campuses and other establishments.
  • Use social media to research each employer, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn.
  • Research the company on websites such as for feedback and complaints.
  • Be cognizant of unsolicited e-mails that are not specifically directed to you. Feel free to call CDS should you have any concerns or questions.
  • Keep your private information private! Don't share personal information, e.g., social security numbers, banking information, credit or debit card numbers, PINs, passwords, birthday, address, mother's maiden name).
  • Never process ANY financial transactions. For example: Some companies offer opportunities to "make money really quick." They will offer a "one day only special." Their intent is to defraud you by sending or wiring money to your bank account. They will ask you to cash the check or send the monies to other accounts. Once your bank or financial institution processes the scammer's check or financial request, you may be informed the monies are invalid or "not real." In the meantime, you are held responsible for the funds the bank has sent at your direction to other accounts.

Fraudulent companies are phishing for the unsuspecting, including you. Be aware of what you share and post online. If you feel uncomfortable or aren't sure about certain companies or employers, talk to someone in CDS.

  • do not provide any personal information if you do not know the company name
  • do not proceed without further investigation if the email address does not match the company...
  • are offered a large amount for little or no work...
  • are offered a job without ever interacting with the staff or supervisor...
  • are offered a check before you do any work...
  • are asked for your credit card, bank account, or copies of personal documents but you get nothing in writing...
  • are required to send any payment by wire service or courier...
  • are offered payment in exchange for use of your bank account; often for depositing checks or transferring money...
  • receive a large check or money order unexpectedly...DO NOT deposit or cash it!

Network Your Way to a Job

Reflect Success

Develop your brand; starting with your 30-second commercial. A 30-Second Commercial is YOUR opportunity to market YOU. It's your unique response to the question, "Tell me about yourself." While each interview is different, you can count on this question being asked every time-it's the most common icebreaker used by interviewers. A polished response is a first sign of preparedness. Remember, first impressions are lasting, so you may only have one chance to get it right!

Your 30-second commercial should answer the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I talking to you, and what is my objective?
  • What is my past experience and what are my strengths?
  • What are my past accomplishments?
  • How did I achieve those accomplishments?
  • What are my passions?
  • How do my passions apply to this company/job?

Sample 30-Second Commercial

"Hello, my name is _________. I am extremely interested in the __________ position that was recently posted on your company's website. I am pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Communication and offer an unparalleled level of energy and excitement, and I am extremely reliable. In fact, it was because of my work ethic that I received 1st place in ODU's Student Employee of the Year as a sophomore. In my search for a new opportunity, I'm prepared to offer this same level of dedication to your company, and I'm excited about the new challenges ahead of me."

Seek Experience

Develop an plan of action:

  • Personal Goal
  • Overall Strategy
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

Find common ground; connect and learn through mutual interests. Students are often hesitant of the networking process - but shouldn't be. Asking people for advice, assistance and information is a part of any job search. Keep in mind that your network often begins with people you already know - family, friends, professors, advisors, mentors, and co-workers. For most people, talking about their background, interests and expertise comes easy - beginning a conversation is often easier than you think.

Build relationships

Become first in mind; reach out and make the most out of every interaction.

Informational interviewing is a conversation initiated to obtain facts or opinions, an opportunity to get an insider's view on a particular career or industry. It is not a job interview and can be used throughout your career, not just when you're thinking about a new position or a new line of work.

  • To gather information and reach tentative decisions about yourself and your options
  • To gain new networking contacts in a different fields or organizations
  • To research companies: Would I like working in this culture? Are there opportunities for advancement?
  • For self‐assessment: Would I like this line of work? What would I need to do to be competitive in this field?

  • Identify people to interview. Ask friends, family, faculty or employers for names of people who work in the profession you hope to enter
  • When setting up the interview, introduce yourself and why you're calling. Indicate where you got the person's name. Ask if the person would be available for a short meeting to discuss his or her occupation. Explain a little about your own background and why their occupation appeals to you... but never give the impression that you're asking for a job
  • Treat it as a business appointment and conduct yourself in a professional manner
  • Write a thank‐you note afterwards. Stay in touch if you've followed up on their suggestions. Build a strong mentoring rapport; you may have developed a great networking contact!

  • Can you tell me how you got to this position?
  • What do you like most about what you do, and what would you change if you could?
  • How do people break into this field? Do you have any suggestions for me?
  • What are the types of jobs that exist where you work and in the industry in general?
  • What does a typical career path look like in your industry?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company and your industry today?
  • Are there any professional or trade associations with whom I should connect?
  • What's unique or differentiating about your company?

Steps to Networking

  1. Be Prepared. Have your 30 Second Commercial and introduction (including a strong handshake and good eye contact) prepared in advance. Determine ahead of time what information you hope to gain from your contact and ask specific questions.

  2. Be Targeted. You may think to yourself "but I don't know anyone", however if you were to make a list of people you come in contact with on a daily basis - you'd quickly discover you know a lot of people! If you really want to expand the network of people you know, consider joining a club, organization, professional group or community meeting - get involved. You never know who you will meet and who they will know - their contact could lead you to your next job!
  3. Be Professional and Focused. Asking for networking advice or information is not the same as asking for a job! Your networking meetings are a source of information, contacts and advice. Focus on asking for one thing at a time and having a meaningful conversation.
  4. Be Referral-Centered and Proactive. The person you are networking with may refer you to someone else, be prepared to collect business cards, make new contacts and stay up-to-date with job leads, remember to thank the individuals for their time and information.
  5. Be Patient and Dedicated. Networking often does not provide immediate results, rather it provides you with one more resource you can use within the job search process. Be persistent in following up with your job leads, and stay in touch with the people you meet. Networking should be a part of your long term career plan.

Do's & Don'ts

The best jobs go to the best job seekers - and often those who are successful in their job search have put their networking skills to good use!


  • Do offer a firm handshake, make good eye contact and be prepared to introduce yourself.
  • Do keep your resume up to date, and have it available to share with contacts who request it.
  • Do take every opportunity to expand your network and utilize your networking skills as a valuable part of the job search process.


  • Don't tell your networking contact your life story - instead focus on one or two pieces of information or questions at a time.
  • Don't be shy - confidence is a quality that employers typically look for in the people they hire.

Questions to Ask While Networking

  • Background: Tell me how you got started in this field. What was your education? What educational background or related experience might be helpful in entering this field?

  • Skills/Abilities: What skills/abilities are utilized in your field? What special training is recommended? What skills are especially important for someone in this position? What characteristics do the achievers in this company seem to share?
  • Problems: What is the largest single problem facing your staff (department) now? What problems does the industry as a whole have? What innovative things are being done to solve these problems?
  • Rewards: What do you find most rewarding about this work, besides money?
  • Potential: Where do you see yourself going in a few years? What are your long term goals? In what ways is a career with your company better than one with your competitors?
  • Job market: How do people find out about your jobs? Are they advertised in the newspaper? On the web? By word-of-mouth? By the Human Resources Department?
  • Reliability: Is turnover high? How many have held this job in the last 5 years? Has your company experienced any downsizing, layoffs in the recent economic crisis? What products (or services) are in the development stage now? Do you have plans for expansion? What are your growth projections for next year?
  • The industry: What trends do you see for this industry in the next 3 to 5 years? What kind of future do you see for this organization? How much of your business is tied to (the economy, government spending, weather, supplies, etc.)?
  • Advice: How well-suited is my background for this field? When the time comes, how would I go about finding a job in this field? What experience, paid or volunteer would you recommend? What essentials should my resume contain?
  • Demand: What types of employers hire people in this line of work? Where are they located? What other career areas do you feel are related to your work?
  • Hiring Decisions: What are the most important factors used to hire people in this work (education, past experience, personality, special skills)? Who makes the hiring decisions for your department? Who supervises the boss? When I am ready to apply for a job, who should I contact?
  • Referral to other sources: Can you name a relevant trade journal or magazine for me to review regularly? What professional organizations might have information about this career area?
  • Referral to others: Based on our conversation today, what other types of people do you believe I should talk to? Can you name a few of these people? May I have permission to use your name when I contact them?
  • Questions: Do you have any other questions or advice?

Tips for Introverts

Being an introvert does NOT mean you don't have social skills. However, it does mean that being around lots of people at one time can be draining. Top 10 networking tips for introverts:

  • Join the crowd. If people seem to be congregating in one area, join them and strike up a conversation.
  • Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, prep yourself mentally for what you are there to do. Is your goal to meet more people? Is it to learn more about the organization's culture? Is it to meet one or two specific people? Make sure you set reasonable expectations beforehand, so that you have a goal in mind. It is a great way to keep you from getting overwhelmed, too.
  • Start a conversation with a loner. It's usually easier to start a conversation with someone who is standing alone, because they will most likely be happy to have someone to talk to-and as a result, are often more personable and easier to connect with.
  • Avoid barging into groups. A cluster of more than four people can be awkward-and tough to enter. Join the group on one side, but don't try to enter the conversation until you've made eye contact with each person at least one time. Usually, people will make room to add you to the "circle" of conversation, and you can introduce yourself then!
  • "Look mom, no hands!" Keep at least one hand free at all times! This means no eating and drinking at the same time if you are at a networking mixer or conference reception. This way, you can still shake hands with people without being awkward and fumbling around.
  • Be yourself. Networking events are meant as starting points for professional relationships. If you can't be yourself-and you aren't comfortable in your own skin, then the people you meet will be connecting with someone you're impersonating, and not the real you. Be genuine. Authenticity tends to attract much of the same.
  • Be present and engaged. Ever talked to someone that acts like you're the only person in the room? Someone who listens, and makes you feel like everything you are saying is important? I love those people! They really make you feel heard. Keep eye contact, and lean in or tilt your body towards people when you talk to them. Not in a creepy way, but in a, "I'm listening to you, and I'm fully present" kind of way.
  • Treat people like friends. Unless, of course, you are a terrible friend. Would you go to a friend and interrupt their conversation, hand over a business card, and walk away? No. Networking events are not transactions. Treat new people as you'd treat your friends-built rapport, be trustworthy, and then talk shop.
  • Follow the 72 hour rule. After a conference or networking event, you have about 72 hours to follow up with a person on LinkedIn or via e-mail. Reference something that you talked about and ask what the best way to stay connected might be. After 72 hours, they just might have forgotten you.
  • Practice makes perfect. Well, not really perfect. Progress is always better than perfection! The point here is that networking is a skill, like any other professional skill. It is a muscle that you have to develop and grow. While others may look like born networkers, they are more than likely just more experienced with it. Mistakes may happen, but the only way to learn is to get out there and do it!

Tiffany I. Waddell is an assistant director for career development at Davidson College.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Personal Branding With Social Media

Build your brand online and network with professionals in your field using social media that reflects your career or professional goals.

You may want to create separate personal and professional social media pages.

Tips courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

  • Use a professional-looking picture-you can use the same picture on all of your social media pages
  • Add the following to the "about" section: internship and other educational experience, a short bio, and links to other professional social media
  • Follow organizations you're interested in to discover intern and full-time job opportunities, announcements about the company, and potential contacts in the organization

  • Drop in your professional photo
  • Customize your headline with keywords and phrases that are related to your desired industry or profession
  • Request a connection with professionals you've worked with at internships or met through networking channels. Be sure to "personalize" your request by offering some information on why you would like to connect
    • Use keywords in your summary statement. Many employers search by keyword, so use keywords-technical terms and skills-from your field. Not sure what your best keywords are? Find profiles of people who hold the job you'd like to get and see which keywords they use.
    • Write short text. Describe your skills and abilities in short bursts of keyword-rich text. Use bullets to separate information.
    • List all your experience. LinkedIn, like other social media, helps you connect with former colleagues and networking contacts who may be able to help you find a job opportunity. It also gives an employer searching to fill a job a description of your expertise.
    • Ask for recommendations. Collect a recommendation or two from someone at each of the organizations where you've worked. Don't forget to get recommendations for internships you've completed.
    • Refresh your news. Update your status about major projects you've completed, books you're reading, and professional successes you've had, at least once a week. This lets your professional contacts know what you are doing and serves as a sign of activity for potential employers.

  • Use a professional profile photo. Your cover photo can indicate your interests
  • Choose a Twitter handle that will be recognizable as you
  • Tell your story in your bio: university, class year, major, and keywords describing your career interests
  • Add a link to your LinkedIn profile, your personal website, blog, and/or online portfolio

  • Drop your professional-looking picture on your main page
  • Select a username that is consistent with your other social media platforms
  • Create a bio that reflects your goals and brand. Who are you? Why are you using Pinterest? What are your professional aspirations?
  • Create boards using images and content to share your interests and experiences in your field
  • Mark boards "secret," if they are going to contain content you would prefer to keep private

Start your Career

Find career-launching tips, tricks and guidance from Career Development Resources for Monarchs seeking employment.