By: BJ Engelhardt, Director of Operations

When meeting with students for Job Search Strategy appointments, I’m regularly confronted with students who are either using a plethora of free, easily accessible online resources for their job search, or are just using one or two tools for their search.  Both of these approaches present challenges to an optimal self-directed job search.  For the student using the wide variety of resources, this can lead to confusion on what has been achieved and what still needs to be done, and for the student using one or two resources, they could be missing out on resources that are going to push their search over the line to success.  

So, how does one optimize their job search?  I will first start by acknowledging that different individuals are starting their job search in different spots with differing levels of knowledge and experiences, so there is not a one-size fits all solution.  However, Career Services has lots of experience with researching and providing valuable resources that can play important roles for different people depending on their needs.  Let’s dive into what some of these might be.

Career Exploration: If you are in the situation where you really don’t know what you want to do with your career, Career Services has self-assessment resources available to you.  We provide two assessment tools: YouScience and StrengthsQuest.  Both of these assessments are intended to help you discover what your interests and skills are and how they best align with career paths. Visit to take the assessment and activate your account with your IIT email. Get in touch with our Assessment lead, Career Coach Tiara DeGuzman, at if you are interested in access these resources.

Researching Companies: So, you have a good understanding of what you want to do, knowing your top target companies needs to be your focus.  If you are an international student, we highly encourage you to use GoinGlobal (features of GoinGlobal only available through Handshake) to identify companies that are regularly sponsoring, along with job titles and occupation categories.  LinkedIn is the best go-to resource for information on where Illinois Tech alumni are working, which can provide a great foot-in-the-door for job seekers.  Handshake, our primary Career Services tool, also has company profiles that include internship feedback from students at universities across the country (similar to features in tools like Glassdoor).

Networking: The United States has a very referral-based job market, so networking HAS to be a part of your job search strategy.  Illinois Tech has two great resources for this: CareerShift and The Bridge.  CareerShift aggregates lots of employer data, including job postings and employer contacts, so it makes finding information that is dispersed throughout the internet much easier.  Want to connect with an alum but they are not responding to you on LinkedIn?  Find them on CareerShift and email them.  

For an easier, and often more effective, outreach experience, The Bridge provides a curated community of Illinois Tech alumni that have raised their hand to say that they want to help Illinois Tech job seekers with their professional development and job search.  It’s easy to sign-up, and you can import your LinkedIn profile to be up-and-running quickly!

Applying for Jobs: Yes, applying for jobs is the last process mentioned, because it should be the last thing that you do in a successful job search!  If you’ve researched your companies and made the right connections, your applications will end up in the vaunted “Referral Pile” and increase your chances of moving to the interview phase.  That said, while there are a lot of application sites out there, and many of them are redundant with each other, we do recommend you review and apply for positions through Handshake.  Why?  Well, it’s not just that we want you to use a tool that the university is licensing.  More importantly, jobs posted on Handshake are jobs that have been posted SPECIFICALLY for Illinois Tech students.  So, while applying for a position on Indeed will put you in a big, generally application pile, applying for that same position on Handshake means you are in an Illinois Tech specific applicant pool, and that will help you stand out from the crowd.

There it is – 6 resources for a successful job search (4 if you already have a good sense of what you want to do as a career path).  All these resources can be accessed through the resources page on Handshake (well, except for Handshake itself, obviously).  We are of course here to tell you all about how to most effectively use these resources, and even potentially recommend other resources on a case-by-case basis, so please sign up for an appointment or visit us during virtual drop-in hours at  Hope to see you there!

Optimizing Your Use of Job Search Resources