By: Gina Anselmo, former career advisor for the DePaul University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Job searching can feel a little daunting at times. Formatting resumes and cover letters, researching companies, making to-do lists, initiating handshakes and introductions, and interviewing all start to swirl together.

It’s important to take a step back and start from a place that allows you to center your interests, skills, work values, and personality all in one place so you can focus your search in a way that is intentional and makes sense to you. Before the job search, begin with a bit of reflection:

Your foundation

By answering these questions, you will be able to create a foundation that will ultimately help you approach your brand, resume and cover letter, and will act as an aid during your job search.

  • Interests: What areas are you naturally drawn to and how do they connect to career choices?
  • Work Values: What motivates you and supports job satisfaction?
  • Skills: What areas are you good at? What areas would you like to develop further? What skills do you enjoy using? What skills would you like to use every day?
  • Personality: What existing qualities influence how you approach decision-making and work style?

Consider settings and titles

In continuing the reflection process, it is important to give yourself a clean slate before you start your research to allow yourself to jot down gut thoughts that come to mind in these areas:

iStock_000081482779_LargeSettings: It is important to consider all the types of settings and environments that you would be comfortable working in. It could be a broad list such as non-profit, for-profit and government, or a specific list of companies and organizations. It’s important to consider how comfortable you are expanding to a range of settings and which work place settings are deal-breakers in order to streamline your search.

Titles: What job titles come to mind for your area of interest? Sometimes titles can range for a particular field (ex. Program Coordinator in Social services) and it helps to consider adaptations of that title paired with populations or areas of specialty (ex. Youth Development and Coordinator). This can sometimes yield a greater search to places and positions depending on how your key words align and are filtered in your search.

Dive into a search

A great way to get started is to browse sites, such as Indeed, using keywords based on your initial list of skills, settings, and occupations. Give yourself permission to see where the search takes you and pay attention to the titles, organizations, and areas of focus that tend to always catch your eye. Start to use your search to tighten your initial focus to a more specific list of positions, work settings, and areas of focus.

Develop job search materials

Now that you have taken time to reflect on how you want to articulate your brand and how you want to direct your search, it is time to develop or update your resume and cover letter. Make sure to always lead with your strengths and demonstrate evidence of success.

Prepare to network

Building a foundation to articulate what skills you have and want to develop, what motivates you in a career, and what specific interests you want to pursue can deepen the types of questions you ask in an informational interview or to jump start a laundry list of professionals to connect with. Make sure the questions you ask incorporate your skills, values, and interests so the professional can offer the most useful advice and resources to your specific case.

My advice to you when starting your job search?

Musings matter! Reflection is key and an important part of the job search process. Set time aside for exploring areas that make up your professional identity and brand in order to set the tone for your job search and to be more aligned with who you are and your short/long term goals.


Need additional help with your job search? Schedule an appointment with your career advisor! You can also participate in our Job Search Strategies workshop offered each quarter.