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From Application to Offer: 5 Steps on How to Get the Job

To help secure a job, start with researching roles that fit your skills. Then you can develop a resume and cover letter, establish a professional social media presence, apply thoughtfully and prepare for interviews to help you land a job offer.
A blue image of a computer screen with various designs like a briefcase and message icons representing how to get a job

You’ve identified your career goals. You’ve put in the work. You’ve earned your degree and achieved the academic credentials it’s going to take.

Now, it’s time to get the job.

In addition to the academic accomplishments and educational experiences you bring to the table, there are a number of things you can do to set yourself apart in the eyes of employers when it comes to landing that amazing job.

Are There a Set Number of Steps to Getting a Job?

Every employer and every job opportunity is unique, so there is no universal number of steps to getting a job, said Grace Dugan, a military career advisor III at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

“Getting a job can sometimes be as easy a being offered an opportunity on the spot after a great conversation, or as cumbersome as going through many rounds of interviews and multiple months of steps to be offered a specific role,” Dugan said.

Shawn Stovall, a career advisor at SNHU

Shawn Stovall, an SNHU career advisor with more than 25 years of experience in leading and training others for the job search process, agreed, while also distinguishing that there are similar steps and stages to most job searches. 

“Every job search is different depending on the job seeker’s level of experience and career objectives,” Stovall said. “However, there are a set number of steps that are important regardless of level of experience or where an individual starts in the job search.”

What are the Key Steps to Getting a Job?

Landing that perfect job involves a number of key steps, said Stovall, whose experience includes consulting in a career transition/outplacement firm and leading two college career services departments. He said one of the first steps is setting realistic expectations and establishing a clear job focus.

“This clarification sets the stage for launching a productive search and securing the right position,” Stovall said.

Stovall and Dugan identified the following as key steps in the job search process:

  1. Focus and Research – The beginning of your job search should involve researching available jobs that are of interest and align with your qualifications.
  2. Resume Development – You’ll want to make sure to develop a strong cover letter and resume that identifies transferrable skills and communicates your accomplishments.
  3. Social Media Presence – Creating a strong, positive social media presence on sites like LinkedIn will give employers a deeper look into your experience and qualifications.
  4. Application and Interview – Submit your application along with your resume, and prepare for an interview by practicing, by developing knowledge of the company to which you’re applying, and by rehearsing stories that connect your skills with the requirements of the position.
  5. Accepting the Offer – Once an offer from the employer is made you’ll want to review the offer, prepare for any salary or benefits negotiations, and determine a start date that works for you and your new employer.

Dugan has seven years of experience in career advising and has worked with college students in the areas of technology, healthcare, business and the liberal arts. She said job interviews can take any number of forms, from phone screens and in-person one-on-one interviews to panel interviews involving several stakeholders.

No matter what format your interview may take, she said it’s important to follow up.

A blue graphic with an icon of two white outlined hands shaking“You’ll want to complete networking activities like following up or reaching out to people at the company to express interest and check in on your application,” Dugan said.

Another important aspect to keep in mind during your job search, Stovall said, is to cast as wide a net as possible at the beginning.

“Develop an all-inclusive job search strategy,” he said. “Many job seekers use only one approach in securing employment, for example, only seeking opportunities on job boards. The job search needs to consist of a balanced approach using all methods.”

Some of these methods, Stovall said, include:

  • Agencies and recruiters
  • Job search engines
  • LinkedIn
  • Networking
  • Targeting specific companies

Find Your Program

How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting a Job?

Grace Dugan, a military career advisor at SNHUNarrowing down your job search, finding that ideal opportunity and going through the necessary steps are important factors when it comes to getting a job.

However, there are many other things you can do to increase your chances in what will likely be a competitive process, Dugan said.

“Researching the specific job and tailoring your application to that job,” she said. “This includes editing your resume and cover letter so that it specifically addresses the requirements and qualifications in the job description.”

Another effective tactic, Dugan said, is finding ways to engage with people who work at the company to which you’re applying, such as:

  • Connecting on LinkedIn
  • Following up after your interview to see if they have any information to share
  • Getting together to learn more about the company culture
  • Meeting up for coffee for informal conversations about the job

Going the extra mile to ensure you’re well prepared for your interview can also help increase your chances, Dugan said.

“This means knowing exactly who the company is, what they do and how the role you applied for fits into the bigger roles of that company,” she said. “And being able to articulate how your experience and background lines up with that information.”

Stovall said there are additional things you can do to increase your chances of getting the job, including:

  • Effectively communicate your skills in the form of accomplishments on your resume
  • Develop positive relationships through networking
  • Be up to date with technology
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the organization through research

“It’s your job as a candidate to make a case for why someone should hire you for that role,” Dugan said. “And that case will be supported if you have specific stories and examples that can highlight how you have achieved similar things in the past.”

Is It Getting Harder to Find a Job?

An icon of a laptop.The process of finding a job in 2024 is quite a bit different from what it was like even just a decade ago. Dugan said the modern job search can be overwhelming and that, because there are so many moving parts to the process, it can sometimes feel harder to land a job.

“Because of the internet, candidates are more easily able to apply for dozens, if not hundreds of jobs per day,” she said.

As a result of this deluge of online applications companies are facing, she said, many are using different types of technology to screen applicants on the front end, leading to a lot of fast rejections and the perception that finding a job is harder.

“As a candidate, I think it can feel like you are receiving more rejection because you may receive a lot of automatic denials,” Dugan said. “That being said, the internet also offers candidates an amazing opportunity to connect and network and learn more about companies and jobs without doing a lot of heavy lifting.”

So while she doesn’t think it’s harder to find a job in 2024, Dugan said you can more effectively navigate the online job search process if you’re:

  • More organized
  • More thoughtful
  • More strategic

What Time of Year is the Hardest and the Easiest to Find a Job?

A graphic with a blue background and a white briefcase iconWhen it comes to determining what time of year is the hardest to find a job, and what time of year is the easiest, Stovall said that while every industry is different, there are some things to keep in mind.

“During the end of year holiday season and in some cases during the summer months due to vacations (can make those times of year the hardest to find a job),” he said, noting that the beginning of the year can be a good time to find a job.

Dugan agreed that early in the year is often a good time for a job search.

“There is opportunity year-round to get started in most fields, and there is frequently a lot of hiring that happens at the beginning of a new budget year for an organization, or before seasonal increases in the work,” she said. “For instance, the accounting field does a lot of hiring in preparation for tax season and then hiring may dip off in that field after tax season.”

One thing to keep in mind is what industry you’re looking for work, and what’s happening with the economy within that industry at different times throughout the year, Dugan said.

“It’s a good idea to research this well before you start the application process so you can be strategic and thoughtful,” she said.

What Can I Do to Stand Out From Other Applicants and Get the Job?

Stovall and Dugan agreed that separating yourself from the pack and standing out in the eyes of employers can be a challenge. But there are things you can do to make a positive impact and be remembered by the hiring organization:

  • Be Engaging – Try to connect with a current employee or find another way to get onto their networking radar, which could ultimately lead to a referral.
  • Be Persistent – Following up after your interview and checking in on the status of their hiring process will demonstrate your interest in the position and is often a good way to stand out.
  • Be Positive – When hiring for a position, organizations are looking for someone they believe will be a good overall fit not just for the position, but their overall culture, and presenting a positive attitude could help you check that box.
  • Be a Storyteller – During your interview, tell a compelling story that connects your experience and skills with the company’s goals for the position.
  • Be a Team Player – Make sure you really know your stuff when it comes to the company you’re interviewing with – what they do, who they serve and their mission and goals.

“Be sure to be nice and friendly to every single person you interact with at that company along the way,” Dugan said. “And finally, a good old-fashioned ‘thank you’ email after an initial interview is often a really great way to stand out.”

Discover more about SNHU’s career services for students and alumni

Cary Jordan is an Iowa-based writer with more than 20 years of writing and editing experience on a wide range of issues related to higher education. Jordan has held administrative and cabinet-level positions at multiple colleges and universities, and his writing has spanned topics related to undergraduate education as well as graduate education in the areas of business, law, medicine and engineering, among others. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.