Initial Publication Date: March 5, 2015

Navigate the Job Search and Application Process

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Explore the Options

Take advantage of opportunities to explore positions in the workforce - seek out opportunities to learn about what different careers are like and query professionals about what steps they took to prepare for their career. Many departments offer weekly seminars where you can learn about others' work and research experiences and talk with them about opportunities that exist that align with your interests. Similarly, if you are able to attend professional meetings, take a walk around the exhibit hall, attend presentations that align with your interests, and talk with the speakers about their work. Alumni also provide a rich source of information about the workforce and opportunities that exist therein. Talk with your advisor or professors to learn about what careers past graduates have sought and to potentially contact the alumni to find out more about what they do. You may also be able to set up an alumni career panel on campus.

You may also find it helpful to take a personal inventory of what is most important and interesting to you in a job and that matches your knowledge and skill set. While you may not find a job that matches this list completely, this list will help narrow your search. Finding a job that matches your interests and abilities will also help both you and your employer down the line - you will likely be more prepared for and engaged in your work and your employer will benefit from this engagement.

Career profiles, job descriptions (both general and in actual job postings), and talking with others, including your advisor, peers, alumni, and potential employers, are all excellent resources for finding out more about the opportunities available as you begin looking for a job. Exploring the national employment growth in sustainability/green careers may also be a great beginning step in finding a career.

General Job Search Resources

Find a Career in Sustainability/Green Jobs

General Information

Explore Career Opportunities by Discipline

Resources, Including Job Postings

Careers in Academia

Looking for a job in academia? Explore more at the Teaching pages within the InTeGrate Student Portal. You can also find links to general information about the job search process at the On the Cutting Edge Preparing for an Academic Career Beginning your Job Search web page. While it is written for the geosciences, much of the information is applicable to other disciplines as well.


Interested in taking research and design in a new direction or starting a business enterprise of your own? Entrepreneurship may be an option for you! Learn more from the entrepreneurship page.

Apply for a Job

After you've made your list of jobs you're interested in pursuing and found classifieds that match your interests, you will need to apply for the jobs. This requires you to have an up-to-date and well-organized and well-written resume, to read all requirements and directions for applying for the job, and to practice your interviewing skills. Some institutions have a career center where you can get feedback and advice on your resume, application, and interview skills. Your advisor or department may be able to engage the career center or even other professors to help tailor resumes, hold mock interviews, or letter writing workshops for you and fellow students. You can also ask if they are able to coordinate campus visits from potential employers - alumni might be beneficial in this endeavor.

Prepare for the Interview

Interviewing can be intimidating, but with practice, you can take some of the stress out of the process. For instance:

  • Many institutions offer interview advice, resources, and even practice through the campus career center. You can also practice with family and friends with these common interview questions from Forbes magazine.
  • You should also inform yourself about potential illegal questions and how to kindly decline to answer them if you think they are inappropriate.
  • A similar page, by the Pomona College Career Development Office, entitled Recognizing Inappropriate Interview Questions lists several illegal interview questions and legal versions of the same questions that address the legitimate, job-related concerns that may be behind them. Recognizing the legitimate concerns behind illegal questions may help you to prepare for and decide how you want to respond to such questions.

Remember that the interview is also a time for you to evaluate if the job is right for you. As such, it is useful to come prepared with questions that you may have for the interviewer about the organization/company/institution and where your job fits in the context of the organization as a whole. You can also prepare yourself for post-interview expectations with questions such as:

  • When do they hope to fill the position?
  • Will the top applicants be invited back to meet other people in the company?
  • Lizandra Vega, author of "The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want," suggests, you can ask interviewer about following-up with them after the interview - would it be okay to touch base with them, and if so, what is the preferred method to communicate?
These questions can both reduce the anxiety of the waiting period following the interview as well as show the employer that you are interested in the job.

After the Interview

Very few people are hired immediately following the interview and the wait to hear back from the employer can range from days to weeks. Unless you are specifically asked not to do so, career experts recommend sending a thank you note within 24 hours following the interview and following up with the employer about the status of the job search. Keep communications succinct and to the point, but personalized and customized for the job. It may also be helpful to call your references to let them know they may receive a call. This article from CNN 10 Things to Do After your Interview elaborates on some of the suggestions mentioned here and provides additional recommendations.

If you find yourself waiting a long time to hear back following the interview, don't panic! There can be a number of reasons for a delay in the decision-making process, some of which are elaborated on in the article 10 Reasons They Haven't Contacted You After a Job Interview by Susan P. Joyce. In addition to identifying causal factors for delays, she also recommends not stopping your job search while you wait: "Do NOT put your job search on hold while you wait to hear the news on any job! Keep your job search momentum rolling. Until you hold a job offer (with the right job title, salary, and start date) in your hand, you don't have a new job."

Once you are offered a job, you may be a position where you find yourself negotiating before making your final acceptance. If you're applying for a job that involves negotiating start date, salary, and benefits (e.g. a faculty position), take some of the mystery out of the process by reviewing this series of web pages about negotiating from On the Cutting Edge's Preparing for an Academic Career. While focused on negotiations in academia, many tips such as researching the salary range for your job (keeping in mind this varies regionally) and talking with peers in similar professions, apply across a range of career types.