Before You Begin

1. Decide Your Time Allotment

Ask yourself "how much time can I afford?"  Job searching, like many things, follows the law of 'you get out of it what you put into it.'  The more time you spend, the greater your chances of finding your "dream job".

But there is an inevitable trade-off: you also need time to fill out application forms, create cover letters, polish your resume, prepare for the interviews, and of course, live your life. The full process of searching for the right job to accepting an offer is almost a full-time job in itself.

Many people can't spend that kind of time, so the next best thing is to start early and look over a longer period of time.  Decide how much time per week you are willing to put into the job search process and stick to it.  Next you should decide what to do in the event you are not successful within the time you have allotted. Can you afford to keep looking and are you willing to try different kinds of jobs?

2. Begin Your Search 

Once you've decided your time requirements, the next step is to decide when you are going to begin the job search .  Just because you might be a student at the beginning or middle of your program doesn't mean that you shouldn't practice searching for that dream job today.  You can take actions immediately that increases the flow of opportunities that would interest you.

Try locating sources of job advertisements in different types of papers and magazines, physical job boards, job hotlines, government or corporate hotlines or websites, career websites and newsgroups. Some of the on-line varieties carry the potential to have job notifications sent to you automatically by e-mail. Even though you will not be applying to these jobs, you can learn from the types of opportunities that are available, and also arrange a system that gives you a steady influx of job opportunities.

Employers are often more than happy to show you around, and give you insights into their business, if they know you aren't desperate for a job. You can ask what electives to take that would make you a more worthy candidate.

3. Decide What you Need

Bookmarking interesting job ads can be addictive and result in an overwhelming volume to sort through later. To prevent this, you need to figure out what you need to be healthy and happy. What kind of work environment, employer and location suits you best? For example, would you like to work for a family owned or start-up company, or is it a large corporation that that will get you where you want to be in life. If you're willing to relocate for work, what do you need from the city or town you move to in order to feel healthy and happy - do you need to be by the mountains, the beach, a bussy downtown-core or near schools for your kids? Once you figure out the optimal conditions for yourself, you can judge whether a job opportunity just sounds interesting, or really suits your needs and wants, and how much you're willing to compromise for either your life or career needs. Mapping your needs will train you to research quality over quantity.