The Great Job Search: Three Key Tips to Get an Advantage

December 2012. A technical writing major graduated from the University of Idaho. As she walked to receive her diploma, she felt two overlapping emotions: relief and panic. Relief that tests and grades were a thing of the past; panic that she now had the overwhelming task of finding a job with a liberal arts degree. That technical writer was me.

Don’t worry. This story has a happy ending. After I bumbled my way through my second interview, I successfully landed a marketing job at a local start-up.


For anyone in a similar boat, here are three things I wish I had known then. It would have helped. A lot.


No Rest!

After my initial graduation, I turned in a few job applications. Then I spent my days hanging out with my brother who was going overseas for the next two years, feeding my animals on Farmville, watching television, and reading voraciously. I occasionally sent in a job applications. Four months later after my brother left, I dove into my job search.

The problem is not that I took time off. The issue is that I spent four months playing dead-end Facebook games! If I was thinking, I would have spent a small slither of that time on perfecting my writing craft, writing articles that would be seen by real people, or acquiring other skills that hiring agents may want. No matter your career path, two or more hours a day working towards your professional career can decrease the time it takes to land that first job.

Social Networking

Until recently, I’d never been active on social media. I only used Facebook to cultivate my imaginary farm or dabble in other games. I also created a Twitter account that I never used. Here’s what I wish I had known during the job search: due to the fact that 87% of businesses have begun to utilize social networks one in six job seekers find jobs through social media platforms.


Unsurprisingly, I did not get hired. After all, how can a job interviewer invest in your abilities if even you have doubts? And that’s what you are to the company, an investment. And due to the fact that it takes 5-months for companies to recover from the cost of hiring an employee, most companies try not to give people the benefit of the doubt. If you doubt, you’re out.

Remember: You are a skilled professional who has been juggling tasks for years. If you lack confidence still, if you are asked any of the following questions, the answer is always yes.

  • Can you handle this type of multi-tasking?
  • Can you complete tasks quickly and efficiently?
  • Are you a fast learner?
  • Can you handle working in a group on projects?

Does this mean you should lie about a skill you just don’t have? My rule of thumb is this: if you have time to learn a skill before the first day, feel free to say you have that skill. If you don’t have the time, admit your ignorance and assure the interviewer you’re a fast learner.

Locating a job can be an intimidating task, especially when you’re fresh out of college. There are so many small aspects of searching for a job search and professional life that you just don’t know. How have you been conducting your own job search so far?

Samantha Stauf

Samantha Stauf graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in technical writing. In the last year and a half, she has been working in the marketing department at a local start-up