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Stabilizing: How to Improve Once You Find the Rhythm of your Search

Congratulations! You’ve got a stable search if you are: 

  • confidently submitting online applications 
  • reaching out to people at the organizations that most interest you to find a network of professional supporters irrespective of whether they have an active job posting or not 
  • getting familiar with the fundamentals of interviewing and have practiced some so that you can be ready when the opportunity comes.

At this stage of the search, improve your ability to incorporate the employer perspective. This single factor is often the difference between being a good candidate and the good candidate who is hired. Here are three employer categories to consider:

Applications & Recruiters

It is now time to optimize your online applications and recruiter interactions to be sure you are being seen and considered for the roles you want. Use these short webinars from Indeed and LinkedIn, and an advice article from Handshake to understand the online systems, what recruiters do, what they need from you, and how to work effectively with them. Additionally, we have some advice about recruiter interactions here.


These are the decision makers in the search. While your application and recruiter relationships help you to be seen, it is your future boss who generally decides which person gets hired. Research done by the search firm Lee Hecht Harrison cites that searchers generally have 25 conversations with decision makers on their way to an offer, but we have some good news: past students report that number appears high for your situation.

Recently, a respected faculty member suggested internship searchers complete at least one informational interview each week, if not 3-4. Why?

  • Because they get to see how good you are outside of the hiring process.  
  • They get to see that you are invested in what they do and how they do it to truly believe you are not just scrambling for any job.  
  • They also get to see you interacting in ways they like to see in their employees.  
  • They can recommend other people to talk to.

And on and on. If you have ever thought, “if they could just see what I can do, they would hire me”, you already understand this point.

The benefits to you go beyond this. In your search, your goal is to show up at the best possible candidate. Use the informational interview questions to understand the employer perspective and incorporate this insight back into your search. Here are a few sample questions and I am sure you can come up with even better:

  • How do you keep up with your field? (If needed, follow up: conferences, memberships, things to read/watch/listen to) 
  • What are some of the challenges your team is taking on right now? What will equip you to be successful? 
  • What knowledge, strengths and qualities does it take to be successful on your team? 
  • What stood out about the last two people you hired? Do you think they would be willing to talk to me about their experience? 
  • What advice do you have for breaking into (enter details about field, organization, or role)?

Peers, Future Teammates and Advocates

Informational interviews are the most powerful part of your search, and you want to request them with more potential teammates than managers. Returning to the 25 hiring managers figure from above, the LHH research shows that you can count on about 3 conversations with peer insiders to get an introduction or referral to a hiring manager. Talking to peers is a critical part of your search for all the same reasons as talking to managers and The Two-Hour Job Search method is the best around if you want to learn how. Using the video, you can learn exactly what to do, step-by-step, with samples included.

You will also begin to rely on this growing network for input into how your search needs to be improved. Consider the coaches part of your network, too. Never hesitate to contact Cameo Hartz, Erin Carlini, or Jenny Johnson in Teams chat or an appointment to turn any of these ideas into customized plan for action.

The next post in the series will have more detail about you can use feedback and advice for troubleshooting your search if you’re doing these things and it’s not going the way you’d planned.

By Cameo Hartz (she/her or they/them)
Cameo Hartz (she/her or they/them) Assistant Director, Engineering Master's Career Services & Professional Development