Searching for a Position

As you begin looking for a new position (internship, full-time, etc.) – it’s important to consider each step of the process. At Merrimack, you have access to a lot of resources to prepare you into the best candidate you can be which will set you apart from the the rest of the applicant pool. The average corporate job opening receives over 200 resumes starting within the first three minutes after the position is posted.

Did you know, out of over 3.5 million job openings in 2012, only 80% were advertised to the public to apply?

With this information in mind – it’s extremely important to make sure you’re applying at the best time of year for your field of interest and maintaining an active search using the tips below.

Before you even start the job or internship search, take some time to identify your personal and professional identity, which will increase your chances of long-term happiness and fulfillment. Meet with your career advisor to identify your strengths, skills, interests, values and personal style. This will help you then narrow down your best potential career matches.


Defining your goals should also include more about the way you expect to balance work and the rest of your life. Think through these questions to get started:

  • Where do I want to live (city, suburbs or rural area)?
  • What commute can I tolerate and how do I plan to commute (car, train or other)?
  • Do you want to work in an office, hybrid or fully remote?
  • What values do I want to see in the company I work for?
  • Do I want a fast-paced or slower environment?
  • Do I want to work with people or in a solitary environment?

The average recruiter spends six seconds reviewing a resume and deciding if the candidate will be allowed to move forward in the interview process. All positions will require you to have a resume while only some will require a cover letter.

A Resume is a professional document that showcases your skills and experiences. A resume is needed to apply to all types of positions: internships, co-ops and jobs. If you do not have a resume, check out our additional resources with samples to get started. Information on your resume should be tailored to reflect the specific position you’re applying for.

A Cover Letter is a professional document that accompanies your resume to a potential employer. The purpose is to introduce yourself to an employer, highlighting your qualifications for the position and detail why you’re the best candidate. If you’ve never written a cover letter before, we recommend visiting our additional resources for general guidance and meeting with a career advisor. Each cover letter you write should be individually tailored to the position and company you’re applying for.

Don’t forget to consider your personal brand which is shown through your submitted materials such as your resume and cover letter. You’ll want to ensure they have a matching layout, font and color scheme.

Your brand is portrayed by anything an employer can learn about you online. This includes your LinkedIn and anything that’s able to be searched by typing your name into a search engine. Take time to review your online presence, update your LinkedIn and more to be the best candidate you can be.

You will need to consider the best time of year to apply to positions within your interest areas. We are providing the approximate timeline for major industries based on nationwide data. If you have questions about this information, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with your career advisor.

Knowing when your specific industry is hiring is an excellent way to make sure you are giving your application the best chance of being selected. When jobs are in season for hiring, being prepared to send materials and be one of the first applicants will make the overall process smoother. If you are looking for a job during the off season of hiring, there may be less availability and response times could be longer. Companies often take time off in December for the holidays, so employees may be out of the office or the office may be closed entirely and that can delay a process until potentially after the new year. It may be helpful to set up job alerts on job boards that will help you to best identify the ever-changing timelines for your field of interest.

When searching for positions – you’ll want to use relevant keywords to expand your search. For example – a marketing intern could be listed under a variety of titles such as Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Brand Marketing or Content Marketing to name a few.

Use a variety of resources including online job boards:

  • Handshake – the best place to start your search since these employers are specifically looking to hire a Merrimack student
  • Indeed – has positions across most industries
  • LinkedIn – use for networking and job searching
  • SchoolSpring – best for education majors

It is highly recommended to keep track of the positions you’re applying for – you can use a spreadsheet to note the date you applied, the title and company, as well as relevant details from the job description.

Be aware of potential scam job postings – if you’re in doubt, contact the O’Brien Center.

  • The job is TOO good to be TRUE
  • You are asked to send or transfer money
  • They ask your bank account, credit card or other personal information up front that seems out of the ordinary
  • The site advertises secret job postings for a fee
  • Poorly written and/or vague job description that highlights how much money you can make
  • The email address for the contact doesn’t match the company domain email
  • The company doesn’t have a legitimate website
  • Interviewing in a suspicious or dangerous locale
  • Company mentions things such as “financial freedom” or “be your own boss”
  • Person recruiting you doesn’t mention the name of the company right away

Always be networking! Networking should be a large part of your job search strategy – informational interviews are one way to include this in your current or upcoming search.

Informational Interviews are a meeting to learn about the real-life experience of someone working in a field or company that interests you. You can learn about the workplace culture, daily routines, duties and responsibilities and work/life balance in the field or company that you are interested in. 

Use the tips below to help you to organize and prepare for your mock or informational interviews. 

  • Create a list of people in your network – career professionals, alumni, past and current teachers/professors or anyone you’re interested in having a career conversation with.
  • Identify the top priority people to reach out to and send them an invitation to connect with you.
  • Ensure you agree on a date, time and whether you’ll meet in person or over phone/video call.
  • Be prepared by coming up with questions you want to ask them.
  • Be on time and thank them for their time.

Sample questions

  • How did you decide on this industry and career path? What helped lead you to that decision? 
  • What was your major in college? How did it help prepare you to enter this field? 
  • What do you find to be the most and least rewarding part of your work? 
  • Tell me more about your previous positions and your career path, did each position lead to the next? 
  • What other related careers and industries did you explore when you were my age? Any you would recommend I pursue? 
  • Could you describe your duties and responsibilities? 
  • What is the average starting salary in this field? 
  • Who else should I connect with as I look to get started in this field?

Professional events occur in a variety of ways across campus and within your field of choice. We encourage you to seek out our events schedule when you’re ready to engage in these events. The tips provided in this resource are here to support you in attending events of many kinds, with special attention given to those Merrimack College hosts on a rotating schedule.

Example Recruiting Events

  • Internship & Career Fairs at Merrimack
  • Career Fairs hosted by other local Colleges & Universities
  • Employer or Industry Career Day typically at the employer location
  • Virtual Job Fairs

Doing your own research into the field you’re interested in is extremely important to understanding what to expect. Get to know what the average salary range is for the types of positions you’re looking for – it can vary depending on the exact job title or the company as well as location. Consider if you have the skills employers are looking for and find ways to gain skills if you need to.

Already applied for a position and wondering when you should hear back?

The average hiring process takes three to six weeks, but not all companies adhere to this timeline.

There are a lot of factors involved in a hiring process that are not always clear to the candidate.

  • Typically, the larger the company, the longer the hiring process will take.
  • Managers with less experience will also take longer to hire a candidate.
  • Some companies require multiple layers of interviews and approval before finalizing their hire.
  • New positions have a lot of uncertainty and make it more difficult to hire in a timely manner.
  • The level of the position may also indicate how many layers of complexity are required.

For candidates who applied to a position after discussing the opportunity with a representative – it can be appropriate to follow up within a few days or weeks of the initial conversation. It is more likely you’ll want to follow up after having an interview with the company. Many recruiters and hiring managers will tell you what to expect during an interview about the timeline – but if they don’t, ask them!

If you applied through their website or other job platform – you may need to dig into the company on their website to determine a point of contact. Connecting with them on LinkedIn can show your elevated interest in the position.

We highly recommend visiting these additional resources for more support during your internship & job search.