How to job search
February 17, 2014 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I've made it this far in life (26/f, about to graduate with Masters in Public Health) without ever really having to search for a job. Now I'm finding the process overwhelming and scary. How do I approach this?

A bit of background:
I guess I've sort of always had a job, if that makes sense. In college as an undergrad, I met a local TV personality randomly who told me to apply for an internship at one of the local TV stations. I did so and after a few months of interning, I was hired part-time and then full-time.

After about 3 years I left to go to graduate school. I am on a listserv that alerts me to positions and for the past 2 years I've been in school, this is how I've found work. I'm graduating in May and am looking for work in the NYC area, I would also consider Philadelphia or maybe Raleigh/research triangle. I currently live in the Southeastern US (this is where I attend grad school).

I am originally from NYC area, but have spent the last 7 years in the southeastern US. I'm very familiar with the businesses and organizations here, so that's not been an issue; the issue is when I go to look for jobs in NYC, there seem to be so many, I'm so overwhelmed, I don't even know where to start.

I guess I'm used to always have an "in" somewhere. I've never had to just Google jobs and see what came up. I realize I have been very fortunate in terms of employment. I also have a LinkedIn account. Any help is appreciated, thank you.
posted by thank you silence to Work & Money (6 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Your college career center should be a big resource in all of this. (Assuming your department doesn't have their own connections and abilities to help grads find jobs).
posted by k5.user at 11:05 AM on February 17, 2014

Your college career center should be a big resource in all of this.

That was never really my experience FWIW.

Looking for a job is hard work. It is also skilled work, which means you have to acquire the skill. I find it a really bizarre skill, but not actually that difficult.

First you need to know the background of your competition. This is really hard, especially if you don't have professional experience directly in the sector.

The reason it's important to know your competition is that job listings are bullshit. Some large fraction of them are for jobs that don't exist or are already filled. Even the rest are bullshit, though, in the following sense: some of those requirements are really a wish list. Some of the nice to haves are must haves. Etc. And you can't evaluate which are which without knowing the talent pool you're part of.

Now once you've decided you're minimally (and I do mean minimally, don't prune too hard) competitive, you list all of the things you have that they want and the context you have them in. Literally list them out: "I know thing because reason. I know other things for other reasons. I love things." That and following instructions to the letter are really the main pieces in getting a call back, in my experience.
posted by PMdixon at 11:20 AM on February 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Some grad programs have terrible career placement help--sometimes you're usually on their own. Here's my suggestion to help out-- find one of your professors who seems like the most 'real world' (i.e worked in industry, or just not as much into research as real world applications). Set up time to speak with him or her. Ask for advice on the job search.
posted by sandmanwv at 11:30 AM on February 17, 2014

Looking for jobs means that you work on your resume / CV / cover letter writing skills, figure out where you'd like to live and what type of skills you have, and then apply, apply, apply. As you've discovered, networking is really important, as jobs can be quite competitive and any "in" you have is worthwhile, if only to get leads. Connections can open doors, but you have to hone how you present yourself to get to an offer.

If you're interested in Public Health jobs, you can look at the Public Health Employment Connection, connected to Emory and
posted by jasper411 at 12:28 PM on February 17, 2014

I find the best jobs are on LinkedIn, that's where I found my last two jobs.

Check out some profiles and mimic one that you like the looks of.

Your LinkedIn and your resume should be pretty similar. Don't bother paying for LinkedIn, I never have and I've found positions just fine.

I put in MPH in the Advanced Search and got 6 pages of jobs. How many of them are right for you, hard to say, but that's pretty good on the first go.

Another great site is They have listings for recent graduates, some of the places may not be optimal (Wyoming, Long Beach, CA, Boston) but those are excellent starting places and once you're in with the feds, it's a beautiful thing!

State sites are good too.

While your career services department may have some cursory information, see if you can meet with someone in your department for more in-depth help with creating your resume.

Here's an interesting document from John's Hopkins. If you scroll through, there are examples of Public Health Resumes.

Don't be afraid to use descriptions others have used. As long as you've actually DONE those things, why strain your brain if you don't have to?

Finding a job IS a job. Set aside every morning, or evening, and review different job postings, figure out which ones you want to apply to, and then put together your application. Jobs in the public sector are harder to apply for than private sector jobs. More hoops to jump through. Just an FYI.

Jump in and start doing it. You may screw up the first few, but soon, you'll be a pro.

Call up anyone you ever interned with, let them know you're graduating and see if they know of any openings anywhere.

If you want some help, memail me, I'll be happy to stick my fat fingers in.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:50 PM on February 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you considered joining professional organizations that focus on public health? The American Public Health Association is a nonprofit public health association that has an active student assembly, as well as other opportunities to check job postings and network. Their annual meetings are HUGE too. I'm sure there are others like them.
posted by LittleFuzzy at 10:17 AM on February 18, 2014

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