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San Diego State University

Career Services

Job Search Strategies

The job search process involves many strategies. Consider using a combination of strategies to maximize results.

Take advantage of SDSU Career Services' free resources to support a successful job search.

To help you select a productive approach, review the following strategies:

Strategies, Advantages and Challenges for different job search methods





Published ads

  • Follow stated application deadlines
  • Customize your application materials
  • Submit quality materials
  • Use listings as reference material to apply for future/ related openings
  • Direct access to job listings and requirements
  • Targeting an open position
  • An opportunity to individualize resumé and cover letter to specific requirements
  • Highly competitive due to large number of applicants
  • May require substantial number of applications to get responses
  • Small percentage of jobs are advertised
  • Low placement rate


  • Ensure that postings are current
  • Review websites constantly
  • Adhere to submission guidelines
  • Customize your resumé
  • Use links to research related jobs and organizations
  • Verify website reputation before sharing information
  • Economical and time efficient
  • Easy access to many jobs/ organizations
  • An opportunity to research related jobs and customize approach to meet criteria
  • Ability to search in distant locations
  • Millions of applicants have "easy" access
  • Some postings are not updated frequently
  • Many companies don't post online
  • May be difficult to check status
  • Concerns about information confidentiality

SDSU on-campus

  • Attend employer information sessions
  • Have your resumé reviewed by a career counselor
  • Upload your resumé(s) to Aztec Career Connection
  • Log in frequently to learn about new listings and schedule on-campus interviews
  • Research the employer database to prepare for potential interviews
  • No-cost, efficient way to contact employers
  • Many companies hire exclusively college graduates for specific jobs
  • Less competition/ higher success rate than traditional methods
  • Ability to research employers in depth through SDSU Career Services' free resources
  • Not all industries recruit on campus
  • Recruiting is active during academic calendar and slows down in summer
  • Jobs may be available after graduation

SDSU Career Fairs

  • Access to many employers in a brief period of time and a single location
  • Very personal approach to learn about companies, careers, and requirements
  • Opportunity to network with recruiters
  • Many positions target students and recent graduates and may not require experience
  • Many disciplines may not be represented
  • Small companies and non-profit sector representation may be limited
  • Hiring may not be immediate

Staffing agencies

  • Research agencies to find out about the services offered and their reputation
  • Locate agencies that specialize in your field
  • Be cautious if you are required to pay a fee
  • Highlight relevant experience and transferable skills
  • Service is normally free to job seekers
  • Agencies conduct pre-screening before referral
  • A temporary assignment may be the only way to obtain a permanent job with some firms
  • An opportunity to survey employers and acquire experience through job assignments
  • Assignments can be short term
  • The variety of jobs can be limited
  • It can be difficult to obtain positions for recent graduates with limited experience
  • May start at a lower salary than comparable permanent positions
  • Agencies' primary commitment is with the paying recrtuiting firm, not the job seeker

Unsolicited mail/ email

  •  Research companies to learn about specific needs
  • Customize your prospecting letter to address each company uniquely
  • Obtain the name of the hiring manager and address this person
  • Follow up by phone whenever possible
  • Ability to target employers in a specific field
  • May access unadvertized positions
  • Employer may be impressed with a well-tailored mailing
  • Time consuming
  • Requires significant research and high degree of individualization
  • Response rates are low

Direct contact
(cold calls / visits)

  • Personal contact with hiring authority
  • Resumé/ Application can be submitted directly to hiring manager
  • May become aware of unadvertized current and future vacancies
  • Access to jobs that are never posted
  • An opportunity to obtain new contacts
  • Takes time to research companies and contact information
  • It is difficult to access hiring managers
  • Requires being assertive and willing to take risks
  • Success rate is low (1 in 20 average)


  • Inform people that you are searching for a job
  • Provide details about the desired job
  • Ask contacts if they know someone who can help
  • Update and distribute your resumé
  • Contact new leads and expand network
  • Stay in touch with all contacts
  • Join professional organizations/ clubs
  • Attend events/ conferences and network
  • Volunteer for boards and organizations
  • Effective way to find jobs
  • May learn tips about company and hiring trends from "inside" sources
  • Ability to access the "hidden" job market and find jobs that will not be advertized
  • Less competition than traditional search
  • May be referred to a company that only hires through employee/ contact referrals
  • An opportunity to expand network
  • Requires significant time and effort
  • Willingness totalk to any potential contact
  • May require talking to numerous contacts before obtaining results
  • Requires tenacity to follow up
  • Contacts need to be maintained over time
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