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How to Find the Right Job

Posted on 03 September 2008

Long before you exit the gate, you have to ask yourself what you want out of a job. For some, the right job might mean a steady paycheck and minimum frustration, while for others it may be a rigorous and challenging first step toward a life-long career. Honesty is crucial at this juncture — anyone who is not fully honest with him/herself entering in to the job search process, or who is overly concerned with the opinion of others, is bound to end up unhappy. Especially when the hours required of entry-level workers in many fields are more geared toward dues-paying careerists than someone just looking for a regular paycheck.

For that reason, it is important to strike an ideal, hypothetical work/life balance before loosing yourself on HR managers nationwide. Are you nose-to-the-grindstone type who wants to jump right into the fray and work as hard as it takes to climb the ladder, at the expense of downtime or a social/love life? Or are you the type that bristles at the thought of trading your youth and freedom for a more secure and lucrative future?

Of course, there is a middle ground, and the responsibility to arrive at it is yours and yours alone.

Next, look into what’s out there. Bear these truths in mind: you can take as much time as you want before settling on something, and mistakes and uncertainty are not only reversible, but par for the course. Rare is the 22-year-old who honestly knows what he/she wants to do with the rest of his/her life, and abundant are those who claim to know, if for no other reason than to fend of the demons of uncertainty…

…And those demons are your friends, friends. Uncertainty is the only proven path toward certainty and, ultimately, fulfillment. So use it to your advantage. Note that your options are virtually unlimited. Leave no stone unturned. After arriving at a loose idea of your ideal work/life balance, ask yourself a two more questions:

  • What do I love to do? What do you do with your free time, and can you do it professionally? Moreover, would you be interested in a less intensive job that gave you more free time to do what you love to do?
  • What do I hate to do? What turns your stomach? What jobs involve doing things you can’t stand?

There, you’ve narrowed it down substantially. Now it’s time to start digging:

  • Use your school’s career center for more information on industries that may interest you. They’ll be able to put you in touch with alumni working within those fields, should you have any questions.
  • Attend career fairs, to get a good sense of what’s out there. Talk to attending company reps to get valuable insight on breaking into and succeeding in various industries. Additionally, schedule some informational interviews with hiring managers.
  • Network, network, network. Talk to friends, family and family friends.
  • Intern, even part-time, to gain experience and get a glimpse of the inner workings of a particular industry. If you enjoy what you’re doing, and you do it well, a job offer might even be in the offing. Internships are also helpful in developing a network of contacts and like-minded people.

While sampling all that various jobs have to offer, keep in mind that while your major may help you land a job in a particular field, it in no way limits your options in the long run. Even those with a vocational degree (engineering, pre-med) are not fully bound to its corresponding field. If you’d like to work in a completely different field, focus more on your personality, relevant skills and fit — instead of education — during the application process.

Be patient. It’s okay to work a part-time job or volunteer as you weigh your options and get your bearings. Above all, remember that nothing is permanent in the working world. If you find you have made a bum move, simply move on and try something else. Avoid the temptation, felt by most recent grads, to begin believing that your future is riding solely on your choice of a first job.

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