Navigating the Job Search: The 4 Step Model

Searching for jobs or internships can sometimes be confusing, difficult, and frustrating. The four steps in this resource will help keep you focused and productive in your search. You should plan on revisiting each step as your knowledge and understanding of positions and industries grow. Each step below is outlined without a specific industry or position in mind. It is best to schedule an appointment with your Advisor for Career Exploration (ACE) or an Industry-specific Career Advisor to customize your process. The questions we have provided at each step are designed to help you reflect on your preparedness and identify what you may need to move forward in the process.

Step 1: Documents

There are always documents that you must create to apply for a job or internship. Ideally, they should not look exactly the same for any two applications. Information or ideas may be common to all applications, but it is crucial that you customize your documents for each particular  opportunity. These include:

  • A resume or CV (curriculum vitae)
  • A cover letter or letter of interest
  • References (letters or contact information for references)

Questions to ask:

  • What skills/qualifications do I want to demonstrate to the employer?
  • What are the themes of the story I want to tell with these documents?
  • What are the top 3 things you want your reader to know about you after reading your application documents?

Step 2: Research

Your job search should be based on a deep understanding of the industry your are pursuing, as well as knowledge of key industry trends and companies. Research will be very important in developing this customized understanding of your area. This research will give you an edge as you create your application documents, and build your professional network. Your research should focus on:

  • General information about the career field you are looking to break into
  • Specific information about cutting-edge trends and issues in this industry
  • Knowledge of key employers in your industry space, particularly about those you with whom you would like work

Questions to ask:

  • What do I know about this job or industry? What don’t I know?
  • As you gain knowledge through research, what are your thoughts, reactions, and feelings about what you have learned?
  • Is what you’ve learned in line with your expectations?

Step 3: Network

Networking is not about looking and asking for a job, it is about building relationships with those who share a common professional interest. Put simply, it’s about getting to know others in your industry with no other agenda that building a relationship. Networks allow you to build relationships within an industry area, learn the “insider” knowledge from  those who live and breath the industry, as well as seek and provide support within your network. You can find these relationship building opportunities in student organizations, conferences, classrooms, workshops, or anywhere else you find a person with a common interest. Career Education can help through:

  • The Wellesley Hive — our online platform to connect the Wellesley community
  • Events and panels — these are great opportunities to engage alumna, faculty, and external partners
  • Informational interview and career exploration — we can help you make the most of your meetings and phone calls with alum

Questions to ask:

  • Who can give me helpful information about this job or industry that I need to know?
  • Who might have some tips or event trends to share with me about working in or navigating this industries norms?
  • After you’ve connected with someone, what have you learned and what are your thoughts, reactions, and feelings about your conversation?

Step 4: Search

As search for jobs and internships, continue to revisit steps 1 through 3, constantly refining your document, expanding your knowledge base, and creating more professional connections. It may feel repetitive, but revisiting these steps will greatly increase your chances of landing your next position. You search process should include looking for opportunities on

  • Handshake — Wellesley’s job and internship posting system
  • Industry-specific job posting websites
  • Career fairs
  • Specific company/organization websites

Questions to ask:

  • Where can I find out about opportunities that I’m interested in?
  • As you are reviewing job descriptions, what excites you about the role? What are you drawn to?
  • Is there a hiring timeline for the career fields/industries that I’m interested in, and if so, when (and how does that impact how/where/when I search)?


Connect with Career Education

At any point in your search process, reach out to Career Education to work on any of the steps outlined above. We can also help with practice interviews and even have suits you can borrow!