Inventory your qualifications

Before starting a job search, we encourage you to attend one of our coaching labs or Canvas modules to learn about the resources that are available to you as you go through the job search process. The Leading Your Job Search is a general coaching lab anyone is welcome to attend. International students should consider International Student Job Search Strategies to learn more about the application process as an international student.

Whether you are searching for an internship, a co-op, or a job, your first task is to “own” your qualifications. Taking this step will not only help you to strengthen your resume but will give you a head start in crafting stories about your experiences that you will be able to use in future interviews.

Think about what you learned, gained, and contributed because of your participation in these activities.


You must meet 100% of the required qualifications and 80% of the desired qualifications.

Qualifications include (but are not limited to):

  • Skills (technical, lab, language, etc.),
  • Competencies (also known as transferable skills such as communication, leadership, collaboration, etc.)
  • Previous experience or background knowledge in a particular industry
  • Global experience

Now that you know what you have to offer, you can focus more on the types of roles you want to target. Keep in mind that different organizations might have different titles for similar roles.  When you are starting to search, make sure you include other variations of the titles.


Use the Inventory of Skills and the Skills Evaluation Worksheets to help you get started.


Use your master resume (explained in the Resume Guide) to help you remember everything you have done.

Prepare for your search

Advanced preparation will help you stay on track and in control of the job search process.

Schedule time each week for job searching activities.   Look at your week ahead and make a commitment to yourself to use the time you set aside for job searching activities.

  1. Microsoft Excel has a Job Search template you can modify for your needs.
  2. There are a number of online tools and apps you can use as well (ex. Job Jibber, Trello, Job Hero Kanban). Many of these tools are free and using them will keep you on track.

You are now ready to start searching. Your goal is to develop a target* list of 20-30 companies. Your tool will help you keep track of the organization and any correspondence you might have with potential employers and contacts.

*A target list is a list of companies and positions in which the seeker is interested in working and learning more about.

Use these resources to help you get started with your list.

If you need assistance with this step, please stop by the Career Studio or schedule an appointment with a member of the Career Design team.

Search for positions and apply

After you have generated your list of employers, there are additional factors to consider before you click “Apply”.

There are three strategies to job searching:

1. Using Search Engines to Apply On-line (Indirect Search)

This approach tends to be many seekers’ first attempt at job search.  Job seekers search job boards and employment websites for positions based on key words and “apply” through these sites. They can be general search sites like and or industry specific, such as, or 

 Although the act of sending your resume feels like you are taking action and being productive, sending an untailored resume without first taking time for additional research will prevent you from standing apart from your competition.

 Fewer than 10% of job seekers are hired using the Indirect Search method.

Use NUworks

Northeastern students should always start their job search with NUworks.

2. Strategic Searching and Application (Direct Search)

Job seekers search specific company websites for positions. Taking this step allows you to focus your search on your “ideal” companies. Researching targeted employers also allows you to take time to tailor your cover letter and resume for the specific role and company (making you a stronger applicant than someone using the Indirect method).

Fewer than 20% of job seeker are hired using the Direct Search method alone.

3. Leveraging Connections (Networking)

Networking is vital for a job seeker’s success. Taking the time to learn about the employers that interest you will help you stand out in your job search and will demonstrate your focus to the employer. This method takes time and effort, but you will be making professional connections that will prove to be valuable as you progress in your career.  Taking this step will allow you to meet people who work in the companies you are targeting. They will be the first to know if a position might be opening up in the near future.  Making a connection to someone on the “inside” will give you insights into what the employer might be looking for in a candidate

70%-80% of all positions are filled by networking.

To learn more about how to incorporate connecting with other professionals and networking into your job search, read the networking and informational interviewing guides.