Job Search Strategies

Find Work You Want

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Whether you are seeking a part-time job, internship, or full-time position to launch your career, looking for work can seem like a daunting task. To maximize your opportunities, it can be useful to adopt multiple strategies.

This page simplifies the process down to a few fundamental ways that people find positions to meet their priorities within their available time for job searching.

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Attend Fairs and Events

Finding Career Events for You

At Career Services, we provide you with access to hundreds of career events year-round, featuring employers that are excited to recruit and connect with UCSB students. Whether you attend one of our premium career fairs or a more specialized recruitment event in a virtual or on-site format, there are many opportunities to learn about career opportunities. In addition to events that are offered through our services, other organizations on- and off-campus provide career events that may interest you.

At any career event, you have the chance to talk with employers about your qualifications and motivations to pursue a specific career path, as well as the work that they do and potential opportunities that are available. Your goal is to show that you are more than just your resume to make a human connection and begin building a relationship.

Click the button below to explore our events and check back often for updates!

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Introducing Yourself, the "Elevator Pitch"

Preparing for a successful career event starts with your introduction. For both virtual and on-site events, meeting an employer provides you with an opportunity to give a sense of who you are, what skills you have, and why you are a great fit for opportunities that the employer may have available. Sometimes referred to as an “elevator pitch,” this is a short and professional introduction that is designed to intrigue the listener.


Think of an “elevator pitch” as your way of introducing yourself in about 30 seconds, or the length of a typical elevator ride.

We know it can feel a little frightening to introduce yourself to an employer for the first time. For most people, “eek!” is usually their body's first response, so we recommend using the E.E.K. format to guide your introduction. Click the items below to learn this memorable formula for success!





Key Skills

Key Skills

Address topics such as: What are you studying? What are some relevant classes you’ve taken? What specific subjects or topics have you studied through a degree, certificate, or training program?

Address topics such as: What key experiences, jobs, internships, volunteer work, or extracurricular involvement have you participated in outside of the classroom? What are some interesting projects you have worked on?

Address topics such as: What are some of your stand out strengths, relevant talents, or unique attributes that set you apart from the average university student? What are you proud of? How have others described you?

Finally, end your introduction with a positive and personalized statement that shows you have done your research. A statement such as “I was excited to see that you were attending this event because…” or “I am interested to learn more about the internship opportunities advertised on the company’s website, which seem to match my background in…” can kickstart a meaningful conversation.


Example Introduction for Undergraduate Students:

“Hi, my name is Darryl Robertson and I am currently studying economics at UC Santa Barbara. I have gained knowledge in finance and developed my customer service skills through part-time work at the student union for the past few years. Last summer, I completed an internship with The Museum of Modern Art where I became more familiar with the financial demands of the nonprofit sector. This summer, I am hoping to continue to increase my knowledge and skills in finance and business and would like to learn more about related opportunities that may be available within your organization.”

Example Introduction for Graduate Students:

“Hi, my name is Susan Hernandez and I am a third-year doctoral student in religious studies at UC Santa Barbara. I currently do research on how religious influences affect health choices and have developed skills in qualitative analysis and research design. I am interested in applying my previous skills as a Health Specialist and my interest in religious studies to work in hospitals and health centers in order to support the well-being of others. I believe that my skills in research methodology and interest in health fields make me uniquely qualified for positions in public health, and I would like to learn more about related opportunities within your organization.”

Once you have an outline ready, practice your introduction out loud multiple times. For further guidance on your introduction, click below to see tips based on event format. First impressions matter, so every tip counts!

Introducing yourself in a virtual setting shares the same principles and strategies as an on-site setting. However, there are a few nuanced considerations to ensure a successful delivery, and much depends on whether video conferencing software or live chat software is utilized (i.e., for video conferencing, pay more attention to your physical surroundings; for live chat, keep your messaging more direct succinct).

Here are some tips to remember for introductions at virtual events:

  • Create a Designated Space: Make sure that your surroundings help you feel comfortable and ready to engage in a formal conversation. Ensure that your background is simple, your face has good lighting, your camera is at eye level, and your name is spelled correctly in the profile or account that may be visible during the event.
  • Make Eye Contact: Stare at the camera, not the screen. In the first few seconds of getting to know you, research shows that people collect an enormous amount of information through social cues, so you want to make people feel like you are making an authentic connection by looking them in the "eye."
  • Anticipate Connection Issues: Be prepared to join the meeting early and check for any connection issues that may occur. It is best to have a backup plan ready just in case!

On-site events bring you and employers together in the same physical space, giving you a chance to use all six senses in the event experience.

Here are some tips when introducing yourself at on-site events:

  • Prepare Your Physical Greeting: In traditional U.S. customs, it is typically most appropriate to greet someone with a firm handshake. These customs have changed in a post-COVID-19 world, so we recommend choosing an alternative greeting that is within your comfort zone, such as an elbow bump, foot tap, or friendly nod.
  • Practice With a Friend: No matter which way you choose to introduce yourself, it always helps to prepare in advance with a friend. Choose someone you are comfortable around so that they can give you honest feedback!
  • Listen in Line: On-site events usually involve a few minutes of waiting in line before you speak with an employer. Use this time wisely -- notice the employer's reactions to different topics of conversation with other people and get a sense of what may work best when it is your turn.

Learn More

The elevator pitch is a powerful way to introduce yourself. You never know who is going to get an opportunity to help you in your career and network your career.


Having the Conversation

To make an authentic connection when you meet an employer at an event, you will want to have a conversation that goes beyond your initial introduction. This is a time when you and the employer can ask questions to each other

To form questions that are good conversation starters, consider asking follow-up questions about the information you have already learned.

Here are some example topics that you could raise during your conversation:

  • The work that the organization does
  • The opportunities that are available (in the present or future) 
  • The role of the employer representative you are talking with
  • The employer representative's professional background, motivations, or favorite aspects of their job
  • The nature of a current event or recent trend that is impacting this type of work (stay generally positive)

Throughout your conversation, try to match your skills, experiences, and interests to the topics discussed. Look for opportunities to connect something you know or have done to the topics of discussion. This will help you provide a rich interaction that keeps the conversation going and shows off your shining strengths.

Keeping a conversation going in a virtual event requires a little bit of creative thinking and comfort with virtual spaces. 

Here are some tips to help you be successful: 

  • Maintain Your Focus: Because the opportunity for multitasking is greater when we are using our mobile, tablet, or desktop devices, there can be more distractions. Silence your devices and limit all distractions as much as possible so that you can focus on listening to the employer.
  • Breathe Deeply and Break Regularly: Virtual conversations can be more draining than in-person conversations, so be sure to keep yourself grounded by breathing deeply and taking frequent breaks for water and physical movement.
  • Anticipate Connection Issues: If there is a delay in the online connection, do not fret. This is very common in virtual spaces, and the employer is likely accustomed to it. Keep calm and be prepared with a backup plan if needed.

When you are attending an on-site event, there are usually a lot of people in the room all at once. This can impact the dynamic of your interaction, so it is best to visualize this ahead of time.

Here are a few tips to prepare:

  • Scan the Room: Take a look at your surroundings to get a sense of the number of students that have come to the event to connect with the same employer you are connecting with. When there are a lot of attendees, you may get less time with the employer; try to get a sense of how much time the employer is spending with each student.
  • Tune Into Noise Level: Conversations can get quite loud, especially when there are many happening all at once. If the room you are in is particularly noisy, do your best to speak with enough volume and clarity so that the employer can hear you. It can be helpful to slow down your pace of speech in these instances.
  • Consider Personal Space: Though on-site events allow you to connect with employers in-person, it is important to keep a comfortable distance between you and the employer.

Offering Your Resume

During career events, your resume can be a powerful tool. While your goal should be to build quality connections with employers and not to hand out lots of resumes, a resume can help employers get a sense of your qualifications quickly.

To ensure that your qualifications stand out, review our tips about Resumes. Depending on the type of event you are attending, do your best to tailor your resume to the employers that you plan to meet with. About midway through or toward the end of your conversation, offer your resume to the employer, and be prepared to answer any follow up questions about the information you provide.

Because events provide an opportunity to have authentic interactions, in some instances, employers may be able to give you advice to optimize your resume for opportunities within their organization. If they do not volunteer this information on their own, you can ask for their advice to see if they are able to assist.


Recent recruiting trends show that employers are less likely to accept resumes during career events than they were in years passed. You should still offer your resume to employers, but don't take it personally if they can't keep your document. Anticipate that many employers will ask you to "sign in" on a list as a means of tracking your initial interaction, and then invite you to apply with your resume later on in their process.

Offering your resume in a virtual event takes a different approach than an on-site event, however, the concept is largely the same.

Here are a few tips for resumes at virtual events:

  • Provide Easy Access to Your Resume: Plan to have your resume ready in PDF format and available through a URL (e.g., uploading to Google Drive and sharing the link).
  • Ensure Proper Permissions: If you are sharing a link to your resume online, review the permission settings to ensure that the employer will be able to access it.
  • Keep a Clean Filename: Ensure that your resume's filename looks as clean as possible (e.g., Last Name - Resume). 

Handing out your resume in an on-site event is a common tactic, but there are a few key details to think through. 

Here are some tips for success:

  • Print Lots of Copies: While printing documents is becoming less common over time, you will want to have at least one copy of your resume ready to give to every employer you plan to meet with. For career fairs or large recruitment events, this could be as many as 20 printed copies.
  • Consider High Quality Paper: Experts have mixed opinions about this tip, but it can sometimes help your resume to stand out if you print it on high quality paper, sometimes referred to as "resume paper." 
  • Bring a Padfolio: A professional padfolio can give the impression that you are ready to talk business. You can purchase one of these at the UCSB Bookstore or office supply outlets. Use it to carry copies of your resume, a pen for taking notes, and any handouts you may receive.

Finishing Strong

When your conversation reaches its end, take the opportunity to close it with confidence. Thank the employer for their time and ask them how you can stay in touch. Know that some employers are not able to give their contact information, but it is a good idea to ask for this before you leave. You can also restate your intended next steps, such as your plans to apply for a position that you discussed or research an opportunity further. 

Within 24-48 hours, it is important that you write a brief note to your contact to thank them for the conversation. For guidance, review our tips to Always Follow Up.

Finishing strong at a virtual event requires that you continue many of the strategies you have used throughout the conversation.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Ask for the Right Type of Contact Information: In traditional events, it would be appropriate to ask for a business card, but this is not useful in a virtual space. Ask an open-ended question such as "How can I best stay in touch with you?" or ask if they prefer LinkedIn, email, or another means of communication.
  • Don't Get Too Casual: Virtual spaces can lend themselves to more casual language, however, be sure to keep your closing professional. A phrase such as "It was very nice to meet you -- I look forward to following up again next month" can leave a more professional impression than "See ya later!"
  • Sign Off Smoothly: Depending on the technology that is used for the virtual event, signing off may be a new experience for you. If possible, practice this in advance to ensure that there are no awkward pauses at the end of your conversation.

To close your conversation during an on-site event, you can follow many of the same principles you used to begin the conversation.

Here are a few tips to help you end strong:

  • Ask for a Business Card: Though fewer professionals carry business cards than they did in years passed, it is still useful to ask for this. Alternatively, you can ask an open-ended question such as, "How can I best stay in touch with you?"
  • Close With Your Physical Greeting: Use the same physical greeting you chose to begin the conversation. This will keep it simple but professional.
  • Stay Calm and Collected: As you exit the room, keep your calm by walking out with confidence and satisfaction in knowing that you made a valuable new connection!

Additional Strategies for Specific Events

Career fairs, recruiting mixers, and employer information sessions use different approaches to connect you with employers. In addition to reviewing the above tips before attending any employer event, use the below strategies to prepare for the specific type of event you are attending. Always check the event description for complete details about any specific event you attend.

Career Fairs

At career fairs, dozens of employers participate all at once to promote their opportunities, give away free items, and talk to potential candidates. Most career fairs at UCSB feature employers hiring for full-time jobs, part-time jobs, and internships across a range of industries. 

To prepare for a career fair, always research employers in advance. You can look on Handshake to see the employers that are attending and make a list of the ones that suit your interests. Know what each organization does, which opportunities are advertised, and how your skills match up. Have well-researched questions ready to ask.

It can also be useful to rank the employers you want to talk with in order of preference. The longer you take to talk to an employer, the longer the wait could be and the more tired the recruiter may become. With this said, it can be helpful to ease into a career fair by talking with an employer that is not your number one choice, before you are ready to bring your best performance to the employers that matter most to you.

For virtual career fairs in Handshake, review our tips to Prepare for Virtual Fairs.

Recruiting Mixers

A mixer is type of recruitment event that features representatives from about five to 20 employers who mingle with students individually and in small groups. Similar to career fairs or any other event, it is advantageous to research the list of attendees in advance. 

To stand out at mixers, jump in and join a group conversation rather than waiting in line for a conversation to finish. Be sure to pay attention to the professional attire guidelines, as these vary per event. This is your opportunity to showcase your best networking skills, so you want to come in confident and prepared.

Employer Information Sessions

These events feature an employer representative who gives a brief presentation about their organization, the projects they work on, and the opportunities they have available. There is usually some time after the presentation to talk with the employer individually, which is a valuable opportunity for you to make an individual connection

Though this is a more casual environment than a career fair, be intentional with your plans when attending employer information sessions. For employers that you are hoping to impress, pay attention during their presentations. Presenters notice who is most engaged, and some of their information may spark questions you can ask later in the presentation or afterward. Review our tips to Arrange Your Attire based on the attire guidelines for the event.

Sometimes virtual information sessions can make the employer feel disconnected from the audience.

Here are a few tips to help you connect with the employer:

  • Utilize the Chat: Most sessions will have a chat or Q&A feature. Stand out to the employer by asking well thought out questions about the company, projects, or application process.
  • Turn Your Camera On: If this function is available, be sure to keep your camera on. By choosing to show your face, the employer can make a personal connection with you and you will stay more engaged during the session. It will also make you more memorable than those that keep their cameras turned off. If you are worried about your background, use our Virtual Backgrounds for Zoom to show off your UCSB flare from home.

Learn More

Succeeding at events requires advanced planning and visualization. Learn how to do your research ahead of time so that you make the most of this opportunity.


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