Columns / Discourse / May 1, 2019

Better Than Your Horoscope: I am unemployed. How do I get a job?

Welcome to Better Than your Horoscope, where you ask me questions and I answer them to the best of my ability. This week we have a truly nerve-wracking question:


Hey Erika,

I am graduating in 4 weeks and I am still unemployed. How do I get a job?



One Scared and Unemployed Senior


I am honestly answering this question in the hopes that it will bring me some good karma and I, too, will be employed soon.

This column is about to become free advertising for the Career Center and I don’t care. The Career Center is amazingly helpful and sorely underutilized. Need help with your resume? They got you. Not sure where to start searching for jobs? They got you. Need help writing a cover letter? They got you.

If you’re really not sure where to start, I’d start there. You can schedule a one-on-one meeting with one of the counselors where you can bug them with all your questions. You can also go to one of their public events, where there is often a lot of career help and free food.

And now for my completely and totally unqualified advice. I would get some saved searches going on different career sites. LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed are all givens. Then, of course, depending on what kind of field you’re going into, you can find different listing sites. I’m a regular lurker on, and I’m sure whatever field you’re looking at has something similar.

When you have those saved searches, you’ll get notified when new listings go up. You can modify them based on location, seniority level, and more. Getting those daily job emails to your inbox will make it pretty hard to ignore your job search.

Once you have your resume all set, most jobs only require you to write a cover letter to apply. So make sure that resume is really top-notch, and maybe have a few different versions for different kinds of jobs. That would include different experiences or different formats.

And cover letters aren’t that scary once you get them down. Not only do they allow you to expand on your experience and why you would be a good fit for the job, but it also gives you a chance to show what’s unique about you. Make sure to use the same wording from the listing Ñ if they’re telling you they want someone detail-oriented, tell them you’re detail-oriented, and show them why and how.

I got a pretty solid paid internship last summer by following those guidelines. I felt pretty unqualified for the job since it involved real estate, which I knew nothing about. So I talked about my own personal ties to real estate (which were honestly just scouring real estate sites for fun with my dad and watching too much HGTV). It was enough to work, somehow. So even if you feel unqualified, apply! Tell them what you need to learn but why you’re excited to learn it!

And lastly, dedicate some time to your job search. Get your schoolwork and social life in order so you can dedicate a few hours a week to getting some applications together. It’s not going to work if it’s always the thing that’s on the back burner.

Good luck to you. And always remember that you can apply for internships for this upcoming summer, find temp work, or work a job that’s not your number one pick. There’s a lot more to life, and your career, than your first year out of college. You might need some time to figure it out. You might be taking a gap year before going to grad school and don’t want a job that’ll be too strenuous.

But whatever you do, you’ll be alright.





If you want your question answered next week, submit anonymously at or drop me a line at!

Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

Tags:  better than your horoscope career employment

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