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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Looking for Job Postings

Where are all the jobs? Though not all work opportunities are advertised online, recent studies by the Pew Research Center indicate that nearly 80% of job seekers use online resources to find open positions, and this is especially true in entry-level recruitment trends. However, because each employer posts positions on different platforms, at varying times of the year, for undisclosed periods of time, finding work online involves multiple tools and strategies.

Did You Know?

You do not need to meet all of the qualifications in a job description in order to apply to the position and receive an offer.

Recruiting trends indicate that employers rarely hire a candidate who meets all qualifications in the job description. Rather, employers are inclined to hire someone who meets most of the qualifications and demonstrates a strong fit to the organization.

If you meet at least half of the qualifications in a job description and you can make a compelling case for your candidacy, it is worth applying to.

For the best results, we recommend that you learn how to master online job search platforms, which often advertise a combination of full-time jobs, part-time jobsinternships, and other work opportunities. While many of these platforms are simple to use at a fundamental level, you will want to take advantage of every opportunity to manage your search efficiently, find postings that match your goals, and stand out among the competition.


Key Application Strategies

Applying to jobs online takes a concerted effort of planning, persistence, and belief in your abilities. Beyond these virtues, much of job searching can depend greatly on being in the "right place" at the "right time" in order to find, apply to, and secure a position that matches your goals. To simplify this process, review key strategies for any job search by clicking the items below.

As a UCSB student, online job searching is one of your best opportunities to put your critical thinking skills into action! Most job search platforms make it easy to enter basic keywords to receive search results, and some platforms make it even easier by recommending opportunities to you without you having to search proactively. While these are helpful features, they usually do not capture all of the postings that match your job goals.

For optimum results, we recommend that you take advantage of advanced search filters or settings to customize each platform to your job search goals. On most platforms, you are able to narrow your search results by a number of different attributes, such as specific titles, locations, skills, lifestyle preferences, industries, employers, salaries or benefits, and other aspects. Occasionally, you can choose to exclude certain terms or search settings to produce a more useful set of results.All of this takes trial and error and continual adjustments in your search entries, but it is well worth the effort. For details about searching the platform in Handshake, visit our Handshake Help Center. If you would like to explore deeper insights and search tactics, research more information about Boolean Search online.

To ensure that you are among the first candidates to learn about new job postings, we encourage you to set up regular email alerts that match your search preferences. Employers have a habit of acting quickly when it comes to posting or removing jobs online; postings come and go on a daily basis and you never know when a great position may be advertised without prior notice. Nearly every online job search platform offers a feature to send you automatic email alerts when new postings match your search criteria.

If you are actively searching for jobs, we recommend setting up as many email alerts as needed to capture the entirety of your job goals and receiving them as frequently as possible. It may feel a bit like spamming yourself at times, but it is in the best interests of your job search to maximize your opportunity to view and apply to positions as early as possible. More often than not, this increases chances that your application rises to the top of the pile. 

A "job description" is a formal method of communication that employers use to write down qualifications, duties, and other expectations related to a position. Because nearly every recruitment process revolves around a job description, it is important that you become familiar with this medium of communication.

When you apply to positions, begin by thinking critically about the job description, and use it as a foundation to create strong application materials. Look beyond broad qualifications and soft skills, and focus on concrete terminology.

Methods for analysis can vary but may include:

  • Highlighting frequently occurring words and phrases throughout the job description.

  • Focusing on information that is placed highly in bulleted lists.

  • Synthesizing information into three to five primary themes in your own words.

  • Using tools like Jobscan's free resume scan to analyze your resume with a job description to which you are applying.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are used widely in modern recruiting processes to process, organize, and evaluate the information that applicants submit to employers. Because ATS use dozens of unique methods for reviewing information, it is critical that you become familiar with specific strategies to succeed.

For complete details about ATS, review our Resumes page.


As you submit applications, keep a close eye on your application-to-interview ratio. While this varies significantly for each labor market, common ratios for entry-level positions can range from roughly 10-to-1 to 50-to-1. If you sense that you are not receiving enough interviews, it may be useful to improve your Resume, Cover Letter, and LinkedIn, network to Make Targeted Connections, or simply re-evaluate your level of competitiveness for your job search goals.

Job Search Platforms

There are thousands of online platforms that advertise jobs. Which ones are best?

Like any tool, all job search platforms have unique advantages and disadvantages, and share certain similarities with other platforms. Some platforms use advanced technology that aggregates postings throughout the web all into one list of search results (similar to Google and other search engines), while other platforms are intended as exclusive posting boards for specialized populations.

Handshake: The Premium Job Search Platform for Gauchos

Handshake is the official platform for UCSB students seeking part-time jobs, internships, or full-time positions. 

As a UCSB student, Handshake offers you an advantage over other job search platforms. Employers that post to Handshake specifically select UCSB as a university that they want to recruit from, giving you an exclusive space to connect with career opportunities.

Want to know the best news? You already have an account! Click the button below to login with your UCSB NetID or visit our Handshake Help Center to learn how to complete your profile, update your Career Interests, and start searching.

Login to Handshake

Handshake Help Center >>

Additional Job Search Platforms

In most cases, you will want to utilize multiple platforms in your job search, in order to increase the number of postings that you can access. These tools should never charge you for services as a job seeker, but deceiving scams can occur on any platform and we encourage you to review our Don't Get Scammed tips so that you can detect potential red flags in advance.

To help you get familiar with job search platforms, we have organized the most important ones into categories for you to explore. Click below to see options.

There are several search engines that job seekers commonly use to expand their opportunities. Most of these search engines detect postings from across the web and compile everything into one set of search results. Because they are widely seen by all people looking for work, you can anticipate that many of the postings you find on these websites attract a relatively large number of applicants.

Here are some of the most widely used search engines for finding work opportunities:

  • LinkedIn: Look for jobs and connect with professionals and employers all over the world.
  • Indeed: Known as a leading job site with millions of listings from thousands of websites.
  • Glassdoor: Advertises job listings along with employer salary data, interview questions, ratings, and reviews.
  • Google Jobs: Offers a search engine that displays job postings from sources across the globe. 
  • Career Builder: Provides listings, resume postings, career advice, and resources to job seekers.
  • Simply Hired: Another option for a job search engine for jobs around the country.
  • Zip Recruiter: Makes job searching easy with a wide variety of options to choose from.
  • Idealist: Offers listings of opportunities within the nonprofit sector.
  • USAJOBS: Serves as the only platform to find postings for federal government, along with resources to build a government resume and government job search tips.

If you are looking for positions with a specific employer that interests you, there are a few different ways to track these postings online. Most importantly, make sure that you review the employer’s website for postings; this is usually the first place that they post their open positions.

Here are the main ways to find a specific employer’s postings:

  • Employer Websites: Check the employer’s website under their “Careers” or “Jobs” page. Sometimes, you can create an account to receive email alerts about new postings. Otherwise, plan to bookmark the page and visit it regularly. 
  • Employer Pages on Leading Search Engines: Look for employers on platforms like Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor. You can usually "Favorite" or "Follow" employers through this method and receive notifications when new positions are posted.
  • Social Media: Follow the employer’s social media accounts on every platform that is available. This could include company accounts or accounts from staff (such as recruiters) who are engaged in the digital community. Occasionally, large employers offer separate social media accounts for their recruitment efforts, so keep a close eye out for different variations.

Niche or specialty platforms are widely available for specific aspects of the job search process. While this varies in each instance, you are likely to encounter specialized resources such as professional associations, special interest groups, advocacy organizations, and other targeted websites for your individual job goals, and many of these offer access to related job postings.

For initial examples of these resources, explore our Career Paths, Communities, and Grad Students pages for topics that may relate to your job search.

It can be challenging to search for positions abroad or in regions you are unfamiliar with. Not only do you have to find and apply to positions, but you also have to consider the cost of living, transportation network, neighborhoods, and lifestyles associated with your new destination. 

Here are some particularly helpful websites for finding work opportunities out of the area:

  • GoinGlobal: Find job and internship postings, work permit information, and regional career guides in the United States and around the world.
  • GoAbroad: Provides a great overview of working in other countries, whether it be on a yacht, cruise ship, or good old-fashioned land.
  • Peace Corps: Assists you in working abroad on a contract-basis for a certain amount of time (e.g. one or two years), helping you obtain work permits, housing, and medical insurance for positions in a wide array of industries.
  • LinkedIn and GauchoNetwork: Search for UCSB alumni in any area of the world, and reach out to ask useful questions about working in their region.
  • Google Maps: Use strong keyword searches to identify organizations within your target area.
  • Nomadic Matt (and other travel bloggers): Consult relevant travel blogs for personal advice on moving to new regions for work.

Additionally, you may want to look up your region’s Chamber of Commerce website for a directory of organizations in the area. 

These organizations look for candidates with specific skills to fill roles within a certain region. Many positions are short-term (called “temporary” positions) or are targeted at certain employers' needs. Employment agencies can be useful when you need employment as soon as possible and when the available opportunities match your job goals.

Here are some established employment agencies:

  • Accountemps: Specializes in staffing temporary positions for accounting and finance.
  • Apex Life Sciences: Offers career opportunities within clinical research, science, and engineering.
  • AppleOne: Connects you to opportunities across a range of industries.
  • Culver Careers: Helps you find positions in sales, marketing, and advertising.
  • Robert Half: Recruits accounting, finance, law, technology, design, marketing, and administrative roles.
  • Select Staffing: Provides opportunities for positions with light industrial and administrative skills.

Most agencies charge employers for their service rather than job seekers, but be sure to review any fee policies so that you are never charged for these services. It is essential to screen agencies carefully prior to signing contractual agreements. You can also anticipate a thorough application process in which the agency collects a lot of information from you in advance, so we highly encourage you to proceed with caution and review our Don't Get Scammed tips for job search safety.

Here are some things to consider when screening employment agencies:

  • Reputation: How long has the agency been in business? Does the agency hold membership in professional associations such as the American Staffing Association (ASA)?
  • Specialities: What type of business and/or career specialities does it serve? Try to choose firms that have types of assignments that match your future career interests.
  • Screening and Matching Process: What tests, if any, are used to assess skills and qualifications? Does the agency provide specific training for certain assignments?
  • Benefits and Compensation: How and what will you get paid? What benefits are offered, if any?
  • Contractual Understandings: Can you register with other agencies? How easy is it to discontinue an inappropriate or unsatisfactory assignment?

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