Finding and Landing Your Dream Job

Here’s the thing. YOUR idea of a dream job is different than anyone else’s. And that’s the way it should be.

So when you start looking for that first job – or you’re ready to level up – think about what’s most important to YOU.


This is often the first consideration for choosing where you want to work. It makes sense. After all, you’ve spent all this time and money going to school, so you’re ready to see some green.

In addition to the dollar signs you hope to see in your paycheck, keep in mind that there are other financial considerations that contribute to (or detract from) the value of your total compensation package. This may include:

  • Health insurance: Find out how much your share of the premium will be, get details on coverage and deductibles, ask if vision or dental are included, etc.
  • Savings vehicles: This could include HSA accounts, 401(k) plans, etc.
  • Student loan repayment: Although it’s not common, some companies offer this is as part of your benefits package
  • Tuition reimbursement: You’re more likely to find this at larger employers
  • Signing bonus: Professionals that are highly sought after can sometimes command this benefit (keep in mind that this is a one-time thing and doesn’t affect your ongoing salary)
  • Expenses like parking and commuting: This can really add up in some locations
  • Fashion: Some jobs will require more expensive clothes, shoes and accessories
  • Paid time off: Having the ability to take PTO is better than taking time off without pay

Future Plans

When looking for a job, think about the long-term opportunities. An entry-level position can give you good early-career experience or it could provide a “foot in the door” with a company you really want to work for. When interviewing, be prepared to answer questions about your long-term goals. Recruiters look for candidates whose career path fits well with their company’s overall growth plans.

Working Environment

In an effort to attract millennials, more companies are boasting that they’re fun places to work because they have ping-pong tables, fully-stocked break rooms, pet-friendly offices, flexible schedules and other non-traditional benefits. If this appeals to you, mention that you appreciate that type of environment.


In addition to the work setting, there are more subtle elements to an organization’s culture that are vitally important to your happiness and success. Signs of a healthy environment include people who seem to enjoy being around each other and leaders who don’t hide away in their offices all day long.

One way to get insight into a company’s culture is on sites like Glassdoor, where you’ll find reviews from actual employees. As with any survey, look for a pattern – and disregard any reviews that are too good to be true or that seem to unfairly trash an employer. Although you can also get insights into a company based on its social media feeds, you’re better off looking for things employees have posted on their own social media.

If you’re interested in working for a particular employer – and you feel comfortable with its personality – it’s important to demonstrate (through your words, actions and attire) how you “fit” with the company’s culture.

Stretch Your Mind

The reality is that no job will be a perfect match, but knowing your priorities going into the job search will help you narrow down where you can see yourself thriving. Having an idea of your “must have” and “never in a million years” traits in a position and company are a good place to start when looking for a job.

This means that you may respond to a job post that, on the surface, doesn’t necessarily look like your dream job but it contains several of your “must have” attributes. Keep in mind that a job post represents just a small portion of what the opportunity could reveal itself to be.

It may also mean considering a different type (or size) of company that you had in mind. Maybe you graduated with a degree in marketing and dreamed of working in an agency, but applying for a  communications manager position at a large corporation could be a great place to use your skills and grow your career.


Job seekers (of all ages and in all stages of life) often turn their applications and communications into a total brag-fest. And while it’s important to highlight why you’re the right person for the job you’re interviewing for, you’re more likely to get an interview if you include some WIFM.

“What’s In It For Me” is an acronym used in marketing that tells your prospect (in this case, a potential employer) how your personality and skills will benefit them. For example: “In addition to my Bachelor’s Degree in public policy, I was selected to serve as a page in the United States Senate and worked with our city government to approve construction of a new park. This combination of education and practical experience gives me the ability to jump right in and get to work.”

Getting Hired

In order to get to the place where a company extends you an offer, you have to land that interview. Kathyy Battee-Freeman is the Director of the UIS Career Development Center. She’s put together a quick video to give you some tips on finding your first job as a recent college graduate. Here’s what you’ll learn from Kathyy:

  1. Acknowledge your skills and experiences.
  2. Create your own support team.
  3. Reach out to your networks for help.
  4. Take advantage of discounts.
  5. Create a vision board.
  6. Track your progress.
  7. Stay positive.

You can also find employment resources in our online Career Development Center. Good luck from all of us at UIS. Now, go get that job!


Facebook icon Twitter icon Instagram logo LinkedIn Icon