Finding a Job

Approximately 60-65% of Grinnell graduates enter the job market after graduation. From finance to public policy to research to the performing arts, there is no “typical” path for Grinnellians. In addition to the many job search resources available here, remember that you can find additional industry-focused tools and advice on our respective Career Community pages.

Getting started with your job search! Conducting a successful job search requires clarity about one’s goals and objectives, an understanding of industry points of entry and hiring timelines, polished materials (resumes, cover letters), a clear plan of action, and a readiness to interview. And despite all of this, one’s job search rarely happens on your timetable. To most, conducting a job search IS a job itself! Making your search more than “just a job” will require you to explore your professional and personal priorities and how they feed into each other. Depending on the job, company, industry, field, and economic or financial climate, your job search can go quickly or take some time. While this can be stressful, being strategic, focused, and prepared will give you the confidence needed in your job search.

  • Self Reflection and Assessment
    A job search can quickly become overwhelming if you are unsure of your interests, strengths, and goals.  CLS advisers may encourage you to engage in assessment tools to gain valuable insight into your interests, preferences and/or talents as you further explore potential professional and civic pathways. These tools will help you self-reflect on your values, interests, skills, strengths, and personality to help you in seeking a post-grad opportunity.
    Other options to consider:
    • Geography: Where do you want to live? Regions of the U.S. or the world? Specific cities?
    • Organization size: small, medium, or large organizations?
    • Mission and impact: Are there causes you would like to work on?
    • Job responsibilities: travel/no travel? Remote, hybrid, in-person? Leadership development?
  • Establish a Timeline and Realistic Goals for Your Search
    Different industries operate on different recruiting schedules and may change depending on the economic and/or job climate. As a rule, the more “competitive” a particular company or firm is, the earlier its application cycle will begin.  The main point is simple: do some research to understand when the industries and/or companies in which you have an interest initiate their undergraduate recruiting efforts.
  • Research and Explore Career Paths, Employers, and Industries
    There are numerous ways to research careers and employers, and we encourage you to begin by scheduling an appointment through Handshake with one of our Career Community Directors. The CLS offers many online tools and resources to give you a big-picture sense of career fields that might fit with your competencies and experiences.
    Suggested action steps:
    • Talk with family, friends, family of friends, previous supervisors, faculty members, Grinnell alumni, among others, to discuss your interests and to get assistance.
    • Create an account on Grinnell Connect ( to connect with alumni and start a mentoring relationship or conduct an informational interview. Grinnell alumni can give you insider info about a profession, employer, and/or industry.
    • Use LinkedIn ( to create a profile and join the Grinnell college Alumni group.
  • Revise and Prepare Application Materials
    Your resume is just one among dozens, even hundreds, that a recruiter might see in a single day.
    Here are tips to standout:
    • Highlight key differentiators: Recruiters will do a quick scan for skills and experiences that both qualify you for the role and set you apart. Make it easy for the recruiters to review: put your most impressive skills, experience, and background front and center.
    • Take the time to tailor your resume, cover letters, and other application materials to the job, organization, and industry. A “one size fits all” resume and other required application materials may indicate you want a job, not a career. The CLS has drop in hours every day where CLS advisers can quickly review your resume or schedule an appointment for a more thorough review.
  • Uncover and Apply for Opportunities
    Your search will include applying for opportunities posted on websites, but this should not be the primary job search method you employ.
    • Network, network, network! Take advantage of jobs posted by alumni and their organizations, alumni networking events, information sessions and workshops, and online profiles (Handshake, LinkedIn).
    • It is a myth that all jobs get posted; in fact, the majority of positions will never make it to any website, and even those that do are often filled through referrals. Access to Handshake and other Grinnell networks can advice and opportunities.
    • Use Handshake, GoinGlobal, Firsthand (previously Vault), LinkedIn, and others for upcoming events, job listings, virtual or in-person interviews, etc.
  • Stay Organized and Be Prepared for Interviews
    Time spent keeping a spreadsheet on the positions you applied to, the recruiter or other company representative you spoke with, and suggested next steps will help you keep organized and may produce significant results. Interviewing is a skill. You must present your best and most relevant qualifications. To do this takes research on your field of interest, the company, industry, job, and practice, practice, and practice. Schedule a mock interview with a CLS adviser and utilize Big Interview to practice prior to the interview. Remember…the first interview will determine further consideration.
  • Summary
    Conducting an effective job search requires self-awareness, industry knowledge, intentional preparation, and dedication.  Job searches tend to be more of a marathon than a sprint, meaning they take time, pacing, patience, and persistence.  So, take it one step at a time, and fully utilize the resources provided by the CLS.
    • Assess your skills and specific interests by taking a self-assessment at the CLS
    • Tailor each resume and other application materials to specific opportunities, employers, and organizations
    • Know your target industry inside-out: trends, entry level opportunities, hiring practices
    • Know the recruiting and hiring cycles of your fields and industries of interest
    • Develop and hone your interview skills
    • Network, network, and network some more!


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