Work Search

Your studies at SFU will prepare you to understand the world more deeply. Work or part-time work, volunteering, clubs, research roles, special certifications, key conversations, friendships, failures, and missed opportunities, will also add to your learning! 

To make the most of what is available at SFU, we encourage you to be intentional. When you get curious about something, focus your attention, and gather more information. This will help lead to informed decisions, and actions, whether that looks like getting more deeply involved, trying something ‘light,’ or choosing other priorities, instead. Taking small risks is a great muscle to flex and develop, and before you know it, you’ll have some really good ideas about some actions you can take. 

Next time an opportunity comes up, ask yourself: who could I be talking to about this? Where could I learn more about this? Who would be  willing to pay me to do this?  

A Career Education Specialist can help you implement your ideas, and reflect on what you learned.

Here are some thought experiments that can lead to insights about career options.

Getting Started with Work Search

Knowing there are many potential jobs for you now and into the future, means there is only the next job to focus on for now. Let's start with your current needs, and ideal scenarios or ideas about interesting, flexible or immediate ways to make a living while you study, or after you graduate.  


If you are looking for work, plan to devote several hours to your search, so that you can plan ahead, and put your energy and attention into researching roles and companies, having some chats or interviews with people connected to those roles, writing targeted applications, readying your references, and practicing your personal presentation skills. 

Use a mindset framework to support you, which includes persistence, learning and strategy. Along with building a targeted resume, strengthening your interview skills, and a bit of luck, a successful first job offer is sure to follow!


Networking at events and career fairs, and attending workshops to learn and expand your competencies is a great way to keep yourself active during your work search. Find ways to stay connected, continue learning and stay open. Watch our events page for more.

Quick Work Search Guide 


  • Update and improve 

    • your resume to highlight transferable and job skills. Use the job description to guide you. 

    • your personal brand on LinkedIn, social media, or in your website/portfolio. Make your profile visible with keywords to land more search results. Take LinkedIn Guys training (it’s free!) 

  • Talk to people

    •  informational interviews can guide you to potential opportunities.

    • ask for job search referrals from your connections; this  increases chances that your application will be seriously considered.

  • Prepare

    • for job interviews. Gather your stories and practice your personal presentation skills. Craft a few questions catered to the company, the work they do, or projects they’ve launched that interest you. Check out Interview Stream to get a recording of your interview and share it for feedback (it’s free!) .

  • Sign up

    • Run your resume through to check if it will pass through Applicant Tracking Systems. Consider volunteering through or finding work at myExperience.

      Visit and watch our events page, and follow us on Instagram for more tips.

Have more time for your work search?

Here’s a process to try, and why it works: 

  • Researching online postings, networking at events and career fairs, and attending workshops to learn and expand your competencies are also part of the process

  • Utilizing social media platforms like LinkedIn or signing up for job alerts can also maximize your chances of finding suitable opportunities

When you research online postings, you are asking: Where are the jobs? What are the openings? What trends can I notice? Where are alumni from my disciplines working now? What are the longer term opportunities? Steve Dalton’s "2-hour work-search" is an excellent source for building a structure to your search.

Here’s a run-down of a typical work search process: 

  1. Identify your targets - whether this is a job title, industry, organization or area of work and watch for postings. 

  2. Update your master resume with the kinds of qualifications asked for in the job postings want to apply for.

  3. Work on a cover letter, and personal presentation style.

  4. Review formatting for work search documents you plan to use.

  5. Review the latest labour market information.

  6. Prepare to demonstrate the ways your education, experiences, and accomplishments make you the ideal candidate for the role. 

  7. Research and connect with others in your alumni network or on LinkedIn to learn about the roles and companies, and their hiring procedures.

  8. Optimize your LinkedIn and social media with key words or concepts.

  9. Assemble your application and test it in the ATS.

  10. Schedule your time to make the deadline, with room for proofreading.

  11. Gather your interviewing stories and prep your references. 

  12. Make time as you may need to prepare materials for the interview. 

  13. Tend to your mindset, with mindfulness or calming strategies.

  14. After the interview, write and send a thank you note.

  15. Prepare for next steps - transitioning in, onboarding, negotiating and more! 

work search set-backs 

While it’s important to grieve the losses, try not to get too delayed with rejections. There will be new opportunities. Creating a sustaining and meaningful career is built on a healthy mindset and integrating the wins, as well as the losses. In the long run, this makes you more empathic, and able to withstand disappointments. No one has a linear path of non-stop amazing opportunities. We all have some cringe moments, and moments of greatness, too. Keep doing, keep trying. 

NOTE: If you’ve applied to hundreds of online ads, and need to work now, get in touch with a Career Education Specialist right away for support and strategies. 

The context in which career choices are made is dynamic, with many factors influencing decisions, but when you stay open, take action and keep learning, you'll be able to see the next step.

What year of study are you in? 

  • If you have just arrived at SFU, feel free to get settled in! You may need our services when it comes time to choose a major,  find activities that align with your studies or your career plans, or find part-time work or volunteer work.

  • If you are approaching the midway point of your education, this is a great time to connect with us. Find out about possible career pathways that lead from your degree, if co-op or other experiential learning would work for you, or if volunteering or joining a club could interest you.

  • If you are nearing your last year of study, last semester, or have recently graduated, and are struggling to figure out your next steps, or wondering how to get prepared for work, we can help you here too. Check out our events pages, get ready for your work search, and prepare your resume and for interviews. Take some time to learn about transitioning from university to workplace culture. 

Need More Help?

Next time an opportunity comes up, ask yourself: who could I be talking to about this? Where could I learn more about this? Who would be  willing to pay me to do this?  

Learn more about this and other resources at the learning section of our prepare or resources pages.