13 Job Search Discussion Topics

by American Educated International Professionals


Listed below are 13 job search discussion topics. Not all topics will be appropriate for everyone’s job search, but this list can provide a good checklist of things to think about when you are embarking on your search:

1. Role Description 

Have a short-hand description of the role you seek, like: data analyst, marketing coordinator, operations consultant, technology adviser, etc. This will help you identify opportunities for the role you want. You should use that description in pitching yourself and your goals; make sure that it is consistent with what's in your resume.

2. Why this Role? 

Be able to explain why this role is of interest to you. It could be the result of a school course, an internship, a prior job, or a life-long personal interest. Interviewers generally want to see passion and long-term interest in the candidates for the roles for which they are interviewing.

3. Written Materials

Carefully draft written materials that you will use in your search, notably:

  • A clearly done resume. Be sure to include a profile or summary or objective section at the top which should mirror messaging you use in your networking conversations (sometimes referred to as your elevator pitch). This section is very important.  
  • A cover letter (email) that you will use when reaching out to potential employers with your resume attached.
  • A draft “thank you” note to use after networking meetings and interviews. Consider handwritten notes and even delivering to receptionist immediately following interview.

4. Consistency

As you look at your resume, see if it illustrates and is consistent with the role you are seeking. This can provide good proof points to the interviewer. It's up to you to connect the dots for the interviewers, i.e. why your background naturally leads to the role you seek.  Make sure the bullets under the past jobs identify the results and accomplishments of your work efforts provided to the organization.

5. Network. Network. Network.

Try to find connections between the people you interact with and somebody who might hire you. The goal here is to get a referral from a real person, which is much more valuable than applying online. Examples are many and include:

  • If your roommate's father works for Google and you want to work for Google, talk with your roommate's father.  Talk to anyone connected with the companies you target.
  • Seek out recent grads from your program that have gotten jobs and talk with them. Are there other openings at their firm? Did they interview with other companies they could refer you to?  What suggestions do they provide you in your search?
  • Ask your professors if they know anyone at your target companies?

6. Memorize Your Script

Have a script i.e. an elevator pitch, for the networking conversations. Memorize it. Use it. Something like:

Hi. My name is Wang Shu. Professor Simpson at Cornell suggested I contact you to explore possible marketing roles with your company. I am graduating with a master’s degree in marketing from Cornell and would love to have an exploratory conversation with you.  I have skills and experience in marketing and I am passionate about what your company does."

7. Develop a List of Target Companies

Develop a list of target companies and focus on them. For example, if you seek a data analyst role you might identify 10 consulting companies, 10 tech companies, and 10 companies in an industry of interest to you.

8. Start Applying

Check their web sites of these target companies to see if they are looking for candidates for the roles you seek. If so, contact the company directly as suggested on the web site. Hopefully a specific individual and try to get an interview. If this process yields five possibilities, that's a good start. Then move on to the next 30. Keep track of your successes with data that can be used to refine your search in the future.

9. Avail Yourself of Support

Avail yourself of whatever job placement support your career services office provides. Do companies do on campus interviews, does the school have any placement counselors that have company contacts?  Make sure you participate in all on campus events when companies visit to meet prospective employees.

10. Be Prepared for Interview

Hopefully these steps lead to an interview. This step is key! Be prepared for the five typical interview questions:

  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. Strengths?  Use Strengthfinder’s 2.0 to identify them.
  3. Weaknesses?  Never mention a “weakness” without telling the interviewer what you have done to minimize or correct this potential area.
  4. Compensation requirements?
  5. Short and Long-term goals?

One way or another, some form of these questions typically does come up. Script your answers ahead of time. Practice your answers. Nail this part of the process because it is important. Your goal is to be so well prepared that almost no question is a surprise. 

11. Story-telling

Develop three or four stories you can use in your interviews. Stories that show how you faced a situation and sorted it through successfully. The stories can be from school, your childhood, an internship, or prior work. Hopefully they illustrate how you think and solve problems. If it is possible the stories should be related to the role you seek. Again, script the stories ahead of time and practice their delivery. Think about the skills that you have that are transferable to the position you are interviewing.

12. Know the Company 

Research the company before the interview to show your interest. No need to go crazy on the research but it is helpful to understand some basics about the company you are talking and their corporate culture.

13. Other Considerations

  • Be on time. If you you're not early, you're late.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Have a good list of questions to ask them. Consider asking good questions to illustrate your intellect, like what types of behavior gets rewarded or recognized?
  • Shortly after the interview, follow-up with a gracious email or handwritten note thanking them for their time and, if appropriate, expressing your continued interest in the role.
  • Understand your strengths, especially around soft skills:  hard work, never give up, like to solve problems, good team player and strong communication skills
  • Have good eye contact.
  • Smile.
  • Interviews can be intense, but if you have prepared well (following the steps above) you can feel confident and on top of the process.
  • Learn from each interview. Grade yourself. Make notes about what went well and what didn't. Share and discuss those notes with your mentor.  Try to improve yourself with each successive interview by practicing with your mentor by doing mock interviews.

Good luck!


Are you ready for your next job?