Recently my office sponsored a one-day seminar on how to conduct an effective job search for recent graduates.
While interacting with the students, I was troubled by some of their responses to this question:
“So…what type of job are you looking for?”
Regardless of their major or past experience, nearly every student responded, “I just want a job, any job.”
Granted, the seminar was held the week after graduation and, in a typical year at my institution, a great majority of soon-to-be graduates secure employment well before graduation. I understand their anxiety about not having a job yet. However, appearing desperate is certainly not the way to get a job. Plus, do you really want just any old job?
If you enjoy meeting new people and building relationships on a regular basis, you certainly would not enjoy a position in a cubicle analyzing data for eight hours a day. Just the same, if you like analyzing data and are skilled at paying attention to minor details but do not enjoy interacting regularly with new people, it might be safe to say you would not be successful in a sales position.
(Hopefully, you are starting to realize why, “I just want a job,” is not only a poor answer but simply not true.)
The last thing a potential employer wants to hear is that you want any job. To be successful in your job search – and while networking during your job search – you will surely encounter this question. Let’s give some thought to how you should respond.
1. Eliminate the idea that you have to answer this question with an actual job title.
If you graduated with a chemical engineering degree, a response like, “Well, I think I’d like a position as a chemical engineer,” is likely not the best response either. Plus, chemical engineers do anything from improving food processing techniques, to refining petroleum products and developing synthetic fibers for the clothes we wear.
2. Take into account your skills and interests.
Start by making a list of your top 3 skills. If you have developed your personal brand or utilized an elevator pitch, you should have a grasp on your skills. If you paused when you read the last two sentences to think, “Hmm…what are my skills?”, you have work to do.
Give some thought to the skills you have developed at internships and part-time jobs, and through academic coursework or being involved in student organizations. You will want to ensure the skills you choose to feature align with what employers want as well.
3. Identify your career interests.
What industry or field do you want to work in? What type of company (large or small; corporate, non-profit, academic or research and development; start-up or Fortune 500) do you want to work at? If you aren’t sure, spend some time researching companies and reviewing job postings to get a better idea.
Once you have determined what skills you want to emphasize and which career interests you want to pursue, you will be able to answer this question with clarity and confidence.
Take a stab at it by leaving a comment to answer the question, “What kind of job are you looking for?”
Claudine is a Career Services Consultant for the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The CCO is a centralized career services office which provides Claudine the opportunity to connect with students, alumni, and employers on a daily basis. Among other things, Claudine provides career and major counseling to students and alumni, assists employers with achieving their recruitment goals at Purdue, and oversees the institution’s post-graduation survey. Her interests include service-learning, diversity initiatives, and leadership development which led her to start a career development and leadership academy for freshmen and sophomore students. Originally from the state of Ohio, Claudine received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Bowling Green State University and completed her graduate studies at The University of Toledo in Higher Education Administration. Since she is a social media addict, Claudine would love to connect with you on twitter or LinkedIn.