Preparing for your Job Search

Whether you are graduating from college or changing careers in mid-life, searching for a job can be overwhelming.  By focusing on the following five steps, this guide will help you to map out a plan:

1.  Know what type of work you would like to do
Before you start your job search, you need to know what you’re looking for and what you have to offer.  You also need to know how to articulate and convey your strengths and qualifications to potential employers.

2.  Become familiar with the job market
Search websites to identify companies that interest you and who is hiring in your area.  View job postings and “help-wanted” ads to see what types of positions are posted, what skills employers are looking for and what application methods they prefer.

Network to gather information and to make contacts (ask for business cards and start a system to keep track of your contacts).  75% of all job openings in the US are not advertised!

3.  Prepare your resume and cover letter
Your resume is one of the most important elements of your job search and will need to be updated throughout your career as you gain new skills and experience.  Read “10 Resume Tips” before you start, and use our "Resume Guide and Worksheet" to organize your thoughts.          

Decide which resume format is best:

  • Chronological—Highlights your work history
  • Functional—Highlights your skills and accomplishments
  • Combination—Combines advantages of both
    (sample resumes)

Listing employment references - Use professional references only (work or education related).  Always ask permission before using someone’s name as a job reference—it is a professional courtesy and they will be better prepared when an employer calls!  (See page 4 in the Resume Guide)

See “10 Cover Letter Tips” for help writing your cover letter.
Sample letters
5 Tips for Better Email Cover Letters

4.  Polish your interviewing skills
Your resume has led you to the interview.  Now your goal is to demonstrate that your career interests and qualifications are aligned with the employer’s needs.  Read “10 Interview Tips" and "Typical Questions Asked During Interviews” to help prepare for a successful interview. 

5.  Follow-up
Many people do not get the job primarily because they don’t follow-up and continue to show interest in the position.  Make sure you send a thank-you note! See sample Thank You Note.


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