Getting Your Ducks in a Row When it Comes to Job Searching

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.

How Social Media Can Improve Your Job Search

We’ve all heard horror stories about employers who reconsidered hiring an applicant based on inappropriate social media posts. But that’s not the whole story. In fact, when employers seek out potential applicants on social media, many of them are relying on Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram to get a better sense of a candidate’s personality, not to catch them demonstrating negative behaviors. Furthermore, a recent survey showed 82 percent of recruiters use social media to seek out passive job candidates who are open to new opportunities; in some cases, just putting yourself out there can potentially attract job leads.

Of course, just having a social presence isn’t enough; you want it to be strong enough to attract employers while also showing a bit of your personality. Below are a handful of tips – by platform – to keep in mind when using social media as a job search tool.


Facebook can provide further insight into your dream company. Fifty-nine percent of employers with a Facebook presence use it primarily to showcase their brand, while 48% will use the platform to post jobs. As a job seeker, this is a terrific opportunity to research an employer beyond the company website and share your findings in a cover letter or email to a hiring manager.

In addition to researching companies, Facebook provides you with an opportunity to use it as a networking tool. If you’re uncomfortable using LinkedIn, try Facebook’s search function to identify potential connections. For example, if you’re interested in networking with employers at Leo Burnett, type in a search for “friends of friends who work at Leo Burnett.” This will produce a list of people who work at the company and identify who your mutual friends are. Your mutual friends may be able to provide you with more information about a particular contact, as well as facilitate an introduction online.

If you plan to utilize Facebook in your job search, though, it’s important to manage how your profile presents you as a potential applicant. Thirty-two percent of employers will vet candidates using Facebook prior to the interview stage. Maintain your Facebook presence by keeping relevant information public, such as your education, work history, and volunteer experience. Set limits on who can see your wall posts and photos to ensure nothing unprofessional is visible to people outside of your network. Finally, remember that your cover photo is always public, so pick one wisely.


Ninety-five percent of employers use Twitter to showcase their brand and to post jobs, while 93 percent use it to seek out relevant candidates. As a job seeker, there are two ways you can take advantage of Twitter in your job search:

  1. Participate as an observer. Follow company accounts, leaders in your field of interest, and industry-specific publications. Doing so will allow you to stay up-to-date on industry trends and job openings, while demonstrating to employers who find you on Twitter that you’re knowledgeable about major players in the field.
  2. Push out those 140-character tweets. Use these opportunities to share industry-related articles, comment on the field, and, if you’re comfortable, retweeting or replying to content shared by key professionals.

For employers who are active on Twitter, 92 percent will use it to check up on candidates after an interview. Seeing a mix of professional and personal tweets – the latter could include posts about hobbies outside of work – will give employers better insight into your personality and how you might fit in with the organization. Just remember to keep it clean.


Though employers aren’t using Instagram as widely as a hiring tool, it can certainly work to strengthen your appeal as an applicant. Students who want to work in a creative industry may find Instagram particularly valuable to highlight photography, design, or artwork.

picjumbo.com_HNCK2304-1For others, it’s a savvy way to research a company’s culture. Organizations may use Instagram to highlight their brand, but more often than not it can provide insight on the office space, the types of projects they’re working on, or more unique aspects of company culture like, say, Taco Tuesday celebrations. Use this information to your advantage when communicating what you know about a particular company; it will demonstrate that you went above and beyond the company website to learn more about their brand.

Social Media and Your Job Search

If you decide you want to utilize social media as a job search tool, take some time to assess which sites make the most sense for your career path. Visit the Career Center and meet with your career advisor to learn more about how your industry is using social media as an application tool, and take advantage of workshops including “LinkedIn Basics for Job Searching” and “#Hired: Social Media and the Job Search” to make the most of your online presence. More and more employers are scouring social media to find their next hire, so take advantage of the Career Center to ensure you are making the strongest impression possible, not only in person, but behind the computer screen as well.


Frost, Aja. “How Instagram Can Get You Ahead of the Competition to Land the Job.” The Muse. Daily Muse, Inc., n.d. Web.

Bennett, Shea. “The Importance of Social Media for Your Job Search.” SocialTimes. Adweek, 26 Jan. 2015. Web.

Maurer, Roy. “Survey: Employers Using Social Media to Find Passive Candidates.” Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). n.p., 7 Jan. 2016. Web.