/ Boerigter Center for Calling and Career

Job Search Process

Develop a plan and get organized

  • Develop a sense of “career focus”: What type(s) of work are you seeking and in what kind of organizations (private sector, non-profit, government)? How do your interests, values and skills relate to your career goals?
  • Prepare and review your résumé to ensure that you are presenting yourself well. In your cover letter, tailor your goals and experience to specific opportunities that you are seeking.
  • What is your time tables for finding work?
  • When in college should you start looking for a job? 
  • Before you initiate contact with hiring managers and alumni, set up a system for tracking résumés submitted, networking contacts, interviews and other resources. Job Track (Excel template) can help you get started. Add as much information as you can before you begin with resources, websites and networking contacts.

If you're having trouble developing or articulating your plan, come in and meet with a staff member for assistance.


  • Generate a list of organizations in your field of interest and geographic area (develop a “prospect list”).
  • Learn everything you can about your industry or employment group (nonprofit, government, education) and the specific organizations or companies you’re interested in working for. Glassdoor and Firsthand (Vault) are good resources for this.


  • Since networking contacts are significant to successful job searches, let your network know about your areas of interest and that you’re job searching.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to expand your network, including Hope’s LinkedIn group, The Hope College Connection and networking events. No one is alone in their job search.

Search For and Apply to Open Positions

  • Apply to opportunities that you discover via networking or online.
  • Target your résumé and cover letter to each specific position. Some applications may also request a writing sample, portfolio or samples of your work.
  • Send required materials well in advance of deadlines.
  • Check openings through our recommended job search resources below

Follow Up

  • Contact each organization to confirm receipt of your application and to set up a phone or in-person interview (if appropriate).
  • If an organization has requested no emails or calls, then follow their instructions.

Interview Preparation and Practice

  • Most of us have not developed the experience to interview well. Preparing effectively and practicing is key to developing a genuine sense of confidence. Please schedule your mock interview through Handshake to prepare effectively. 

Next Steps

  • Schedule an appointment through Handshake to develop your plan and address any questions.
Identifying Types of Work

The more clearly you define the type of work that you are seeking, the easier it is to understand and use specific resources for your job search.


Is there a particular function you want to fill? Do you want to be doing particular tasks or using particular skills, regardless of industry (e.g., marketing, accounting)?


Is there a particular field that you want to join, no matter what you might be doing (e.g., education, corporate finance, museums)?

Type of organization

Do you want to work in a small or large organization? What about for a for-profit, nonprofit or government organization? 

Mission/issue area

Are you passionate about a particular issue? Do you want to work for an organization that addresses that mission?

Additional considerations

Issues such as compensation, geography, social connections, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities can also influence your priorities. 

  • Calvin Engineering Fair – mid-September
  • Fall Recruiting Fair – early October
  • GVSU Fall Career Fair – mid-October
  • Gap Year Fair – October
  • Internship Fair – late January
  • GVSU Winter Career Fair and Health Day – February
  • Out-of-State Teacher Fair – early March
  • Living and Working in West Michigan – early March
  • Living and Working in Chicago – mid-April
  • West Michigan Teacher Search – late April
View all Boerigter Center events on our calendar 

These resources can help you plan and navigate your search for meaningful work. We also welcome the opportunity discuss your job search and specific questions or concerns.

  • Handshake: Entry-level positions in education, science and engineering, business and industry, computers, and human services.
  • Glassdoor: Job listings, company listing and employee reviews and examples of company interview questions.
  • CareerMatrix: Opportunities in Michigan; offers the capability to email your online résumé to companies
  • Coolworks.com: A wide range of opportunities such as conference centers, restaurant positions, national park positions, camps and more
  • CollegeGrad: Information on careers, degrees and resources for your job search, as well as additional resources
  • USAJOBS: Allows you to search for a job as a U.S. citizen for work with the federal government

Salary Resources

  • NACE Salary Calculator Center: Salary information for college graduates, including education, employment history, location and more
  • Payscale.com: Online salary, benefits and compensation information
  • Salary.com: Salary reports covering virtually every occupation, as well as information on salary, benefits, negotiation and human resources issues


  • Numbeo.com: Numbeo is the world's largest cost of living database. It also includes a database of quality of life information including housing indicators, perceived crime rates and quality of healthcare, and the ablility to compare factors between two cities.
  • Bestplaces.net: Provides information on best places to live, cost of living, schools, crime rates, climate, housing prices and more. Easy for a brief overview of a city, with pros and cons included.
PLAN B, or “What if I am Not Hired/Accepted Once Graduating?”

If you don’t receive an offer to work or get accepted into graduate school, you may need to move to Plan B. Consider this approach, which divides a six-month job search into three time stages, specifically designed for the graduating college senior:

  1. On campus (mid-March through mid-May)
  2. Remote searching (mid-May through mid-July)
  3. On the ground (mid-July through mid-September)

On Campus

  1. While on campus during the senior spring term, take time to utilize the job and internship resources that won’t be as easy to access after you’ve left campus.
  2. Meet with Boerigter Center staff to narrow in on what you will be searching for later, develop a concrete plan for the next two stages and determine a geographic region.
  3. Fine-tune your résumé, develop your cover letter and have it reviewed, begin networking with Hope alumni, schedule a mock interview, establish references and talk with anyone on campus who can inform your plan.

Remote Searching

  1. From home or another location away from campus, use those first few weeks after graduation to identify and pursue opportunities, making whatever contacts possible.
  2. Apply for jobs. You have two key options: Follow the traditional approach, and/or use this time to prepare for the next stage — initiating contacts in your targeted geographic region where you will be relocating.

New Location

  1. Begin visiting employers in person, making calls, sending messages and anything else you can do to make yourself as visible as possible to employers, including face-to-face meetings through networking and contacts with job leads. Ask for others you might contact, and/or whether they will introduce you to others.
  2. For morale and for income, take a part-time job, maybe in a restaurant or coffee shop near where professionals do the work in which you are interested.
  3. Establish goals for numbers of contacts, calls and messages you plan to make every day.
  4. Look for one or two contacts who know your market and geography well and can serve as a good resource.
  5. Continue to refine your interview skills.

A gap year experience is intended to give graduates a purposeful full-time volunteer or paid opportunity to explore and gain life or work experience in a field before going into a full-time job, graduate/professional school. These programs provide exposure to meaningful and different types of work that allow graduates to gain valuable professional experience, develop and refine skills and clarify interests. The duration of a gap experience ranges from one to three years and examples include Peace Corps, Teach for America and AmeriCorps, yet there are many other options tied to a range of fields, including:

  • Nonprofit
  • Business
  • Research
  • Government
  • Environment
  • Adventure

Teaching Residency Programs

Teaching fellowships are available in many states and most major cities. Many lasting for more than a year, and some include a graduate degree in education as a part of the contract. Training is provided to obtain teacher certification, and many programs partner with universities to provide a master’s degree in education. Compensation is typically, but not always, at the same level as a beginning teacher’s salary.


Overseas Work Authorization

  • BUNAC: Information and services for individuals looking for short-term (up to a year, depending on location) work abroad and gives profiles on individuals who have already gone overseas
  • Interexchange: Information and services for individuals looking for internships, teaching overseas and short-term work in Europe
  • U.S. Department of State: Lists websites of U.S. embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions