DePaul University Career Center's Blog

Create a List and Check it Twice: How to manage the job search during the end of the year

By: Ellie Santonato, Career Community Advisor

As the year closes, hiring opportunities and job searches slow down. This situation may make your job search more frustrating than it already is, especially for those interested in public sector jobs. Human Resource departments come to a stop during the month of December. Do not let the lack of new roles slow down your search. Remember, many organizations freeze hiring at the end of the year or wait to post job openings because of annual budgets. Keep reading to learn more about using this time of year to set you up for success in the new year. 

Update your Resume

Updating your resume is an easy first step when preparing for the new year’s job search. Now that it is the end of the year, think about all the completed projects and minor changes, such as your new responsibilities in your role. What was something you received praise for from your manager? Make sure you highlight that work! 

Each experience you highlight on your resume can have two to six achievement statements. Remember to format these achievement statements properly. We want the information on our resume to be scannable; therefore, we avoid paragraphs and instead write the information as bullet points. Pro tip: having a different number of bullets per position is okay. 

Overall, writing bullet points is a skill in and of itself. Therefore, check out this formula to help you get started: 

“Verb + Experience (Who/What) + Results (Why + How or What changed as a results)” 

Here are three example from Santa’s resume: 

  • Received (Verb) the International Team of Delivery Specialists (Experience – Who)  ‘Naughty and Nice List’ (Experience – What) and checked it twice utilizing MS Excel (Results – How) to calculate the best routes for 1 billion home visits from St. Petersburg, Russia to New York City, NY, United States of America (Results – Why). 
  • Directed (Verb) the pre-flight planning, perform final examination of sleigh and reindeer, and file flight plans (Experience – What) with aviation regulatory authors across the world  (Experience – Who) to obtain air travel clearance (Results – Why). 
  • Piloted (Verb) a fully loaded sleigh (Experience – What) pulled by 9 reindeer and led by ‘Rudolph’ (Experience – Who) on a 24-hour global journey delivering presents (Results – How) to all the Nice List Children (Experience – Who) in exchange for cookies, milk, and carrots (Results – Why). 

Create That List & Check it Twice: Using Target Employers to Organize the Job Search 

Hiring slows at the end of the year. This process happens for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that organizations, especially nonprofit/public institutions, have annual budgets; they must not overspend, and after the new year, the budget refreshes. 

One way to avoid job search fatigue that is due to doom scrolling** is to create a Target Employer List

A Target Employer List can be a great source of inspiration and motivation as you prepare for a rewarding career which is vital for restarting your search in the new year. Follow the steps below to great your list, and don’t forget to check it twice. 

Step 1. Decide on Location & Industry

Location helps set parameters for your search. The site can also include whether you want remote, hybrid, or in-person work. 

The industry is critical to identify as it helps you narrow down what types of organizations you want to work with. Industry can have sub-layers. For example, you can say you want to work for the government, but the government has layers. You could work for the federal, state, or local government. Even these categories have levels. For instance, for the Chicagoland-area, working for the local level of government could mean neighborhood (Alderman), city, county, & municipality. 

Remember your industry is not your major. 

Step 2. Choose 15–20 Organizations 

You might already have some organization in mind. Start with reviewing the organizations you have already applied for jobs with. Some organizations may have to freeze hiring for a position you applied for, so it would be a good idea to follow that organization. The position may get reposted for hire. 

Other ways to find organizations involve doing some strategic googling. “Best Companies” list providers like Forbes, Fortune, and Crain’s, who publish a variety of company rankings annually. Crain’s is particularly useful for local lists in their cities of coverage, like Chicago. Or pick one well-established organization and find out if there are any smaller or similar organizations. 

Step 3. Organize the work 

Whether it is in Word document or a Google Sheet make sure to organize the information in a central location. Some important categories to note are: 

  • Organization Name 
  • Links to the Website, LinkedIn Page, Employee Page, & Career Board Page 

In this document you can also organize the positions you find and will apply to. See how you can organize this information below. 

Job TitleType of RolelinkOrganizationType of OrganizationlinkDate FoundApplication Deadline – if applicableStatus

As you look at organization websites do not be shocked when nothing appears on their employment page. In the next couple of weeks that will change. 

Finally, if you still are looking at job posting you should edit the language on your resume to match the job postings. 

Networking using Informational Interviews 

Have you heard the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” That statement is now more true today than ever before. But, no matter how often Aunt Marge tells you this, it is not helpful unless it is followed up with more advice. 

According to The Balance Careers (2022), “Career Networking, or “professional” networking, involves using personal, professional, academic or familial contacts to assist with the job search, achieve career goals, or learn more about your field, or another field you would like to work in.” 

Networking is great for gaining industry insights; the best way to do that is through informational interviews. Informational interviews allow you to talk with professionals about their career path, profession, organization, or industry. But networking is more than making connections. 

Your conversations with industry professionals can take place in person but are more commonly made via video conferencing (i.e., Zoom) or phone calls. Informational interviews can even be done over email, but only benefit from an enriching back-and-forth conversation. 

Speaking with industry professionals is the best way to learn about hiring trends and organizational linguistics. Conducting informational interviews while updating your resume is a good idea because you can ensure you are using the most updated terms and role descriptions. 

You can also network directly with employees who work with the organizations on your Target Employer list. In addition, to alums, friends, family, & professional organizations. 

Check out these Career Library resources to learn more: 

**Doom scrolling is spending hours upon hours every day looking through job search sites like Indeed, Idealist, LinkedIn, Handshake, etc. Sometimes doing extensive searches leads us precisely to where we want to be, but most of the time, it is a draining process.  

Not sure what the future holds? Need support along the way? That’s exactly where we come in. Whether you’re a freshman or an alumnus, it’s never too early (or too late) to utilize our services.

Book an appointment with Ellie, or another member of the advising community through Handshake, or by calling the front desk at (773) 325-7431.

%d bloggers like this: