Job Seeker Toolkit: Job Search Tips & Guidelines
Top 10 Tips from WorkOne
Helpful Tip Number One: Know What Skills You Have that Employers Want, such as Being Reliable and Responsible
For Young People, Nine Other Tips Will Help You Succeed in the Work World
WorkOne has a handy guide to help you find the right job that fits your personality - now and in the future. Read the following "Quick Tips on How to Get the Job" for advice on resumes and cover letters, dressing for success, and strategies for responding during interviews and for attending job fairs.
Here are the top 10 tips from WorkOne:
- IDENTIFY YOUR MARKETABLE SKILLS - Identify the skills you have that employers want, such as being reliable, accepting and handling responsibility, managing time well, and being honest and dependable.
- DETERMINE YOUR CAREER GOALS - Compare your skills with those abilities needed for the jobs you want. Are they a good match? What other skills or experience do you need?
- DRESS PROFESSIONALLY - Dress professionally - not like you are going out on a date. Be neat and well groomed; wear clean, pressed clothes, and polished shoes.
- AVOID EXCESS IN YOUR APPEARANCE - Avoid anything to an excess - too much jewelry or make-up, t-shirts with inappropriate sayings, clothing that is too tight or worn too low - distracts mightily from what's important: you, your skills, and your experience.
- TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE - Before you meet someone at a job fair, while networking, or for an interview, turn off and put away your cellular phone, pager, MP3 or CD player. Get rid of gum or cigarettes. Through your appearance and behavior, show that you are focused on the job opportunity.
- BRING ALL YOUR VITAL DATA WITH YOU - Bring with you all the information you'll need to complete a job application. This information includes: names and addresses of previous employers and dates of your employment; work-permit, Social Security card and driver's license; names and contact information for your references. Alert your references that you are job-hunting so they will be ready for a call from a potential employer.
- ENSURE YOU ARRIVE 10 MINUTES EARLY - Be on time for an interview and be courteous to everyone you meet at a place of business or a job fair. You never know who can influence a hiring decision.
- HANDSHAKE and EYE CONTACT are PARAMOUNT - Develop a firm handshake, and maintain eye contact with people as you talk with them.
- HONESTY MATTERS! - Be honest about your work experience and your skills. Don't exaggerate! Be prepared to give examples of how you successfully demonstrated your skills at past jobs. Never bad-mouth a former employer or co-workers - it's a small world and your potential employer may know them. And talking down about a former employer shows poor judgment on your part as well as other negatives about you.
- BE ENTHUSIASTIC! - Show interest and enthusiasm to the potential employer about the job you're discussing. Do your homework on the business and its products and services. Research its web site and brochures, and examine newspaper articles about the organization. Talk to people who work for the company or one like it.
Build a Resume for the Job You Want
Build a Great Resume To Provide an Employer a Lens for Capturing a Picture of You. Use Your Resume Accurately and Honestly To Spur an Employer's Interest in You.
Think of your resume as a snapshot of you. It represents you, but does not replace you. It is just one item in your job-search toolbox. A well-crafted, clear and comprehensive resume can create a desire to meet the person behind the document.
The type of resume you create depends upon your work history, education, and skills, as well as the industry and/or job for which you are applying. Nonetheless, there are a few universal characteristics that apply to all resumes:
- OPEN with a SUMMARY - Open the resume with a summary or profile. Be careful of the term "objective." It may limit how the employer perceives you and, consequently, narrow your options.
- USE SIMPLE TECHNIQUES - Use bullets, lines and other simple techniques to aid in readability and emphasis.
- OPEN LINES with KEYWORD - Open each line with a keyword, action verb or the topic.
- EMPLOY SHORT, FRAGMENTED SENTENCES - Sentences should be short and fragmented, and they often will lack pronouns and articles. Do not write in a narrative style such as, "I first started working for...".
- DO NOT EXAGGERATE in PRESENTING YOUR SKILLS - Present your qualifications, skills, experience, and strengths. Demonstrate the scope of your responsibilities and accomplishments. Do not exaggerate or inflate.
- AVOID REASONS for LEAVING JOB or SALARY - Avoid statements that give reasons for leaving a job or any salary information.
- DO NOT LIST REFERENCES or PERSONAL DATA - Do not list references or personal information such as marital status, height and weight, or Social Security number.
- PROOFREAD YOUR RESUME- Print out the resume for proofreading by you and others. Do not try to proof on a computer monitor or trust the spell-check function on a word processing program.
Write a Professional Cover Letter
Set yourself apart from the others vying for a particular job with a carefully worded cover letter that tells employers you are a serious professional.
Establish Yourself as a Professional with Talent by Producing a Well-Written Cover Letter with Impact. Use the Letter To Say a Few General, Yet Important, Things about Yourself
Set your resume apart from the competition. Impress employers with your professionalism. Highlight the skills and experiences that make you a "must interview" job seeker.
The perfect cover letter is short and concise. It features only information relevant to the position that has attracted your application. Build the cover letter just like what it is - a business letter.
- Your name, address and other contact information at the top. Ensure that your e-mail address is professional in tone and does not include any nick-names, slang, or other unprofessional catch phrases. If necessary, get a new e-mail address that is professional. You also should place this professional e-mail on your resume.
- The date you write the letter.
- The name (if available) and address of the contact person, exactly as it appears in the job posting or advertisement.
- Salutation using the person's name or "Dear Sir or Madam".
- Statement of your purpose in writing - that you are applying for a job and identify it exactly as the position is named in the posting or advertisement.
- Highlight a few of your qualifications, experiences, skills and knowledge that align nicely with the skills and duties described in the posting or advertisement.
- Close the letter by showing enthusiasm for further contact about the position and include your telephone number.
- Finish with "Sincerely," and leave at least four lines of white-space to sign your name above your typed name.
- Print the cover letter for proofreading by you and others. Do not try to proof on a computer monitor or trust the spell-check function of a word processor.
- If you are enclosing a resume and references (if required), indicate you are doing this after your signature in a manner such as "Enclosures: Resume and References."
- View a sample cover letter here.
Build a Great Resume that Reflects Your Skills, Experience, Educational Achievements and Ingenuity
The type of resume you create depends upon your work history, education, skills, and the type of employment, such as the industry or specific job, that you want to pursue. This page provides examples of effective resume strategies.
The "Functional Resume" organizes work experience by job-related tasks without regard to time and date. It shifts the emphasis off work history and onto specific job-related skills - an especially effective method for individuals either new to or re-entering the workforce. This strategy, likewise, is very effective for job seekers who are changing careers.
A Functional Resume holds several advantages, including minimizing repetition, ensuring that gaps in work history are not prominent, and emphasizing transferable skills regardless of work history. Click here for an example of a Functional Resume.
Also known as the "Traditional" format, the "Chronological Resume" organizes work experience by order of employment from the most recent position to the earliest job. A prospective employer will take note of a consistent and solid work history that highlights an individual's track record; in addition, an employer will notice progressive achievements relevant to the field.
As clean and easy-to-read documents, chronological resumes are accepted as the standard format by a large population of companies. For an example, go to Chronological Resume.
Creative, Performance or Other Resume
Individuals drawn to a more creative approach might build a resume by combining features from the Chronological and Functional styles. This hybrid format also could be used effectively for seeking creative jobs that focus on one dominant skill, such as musicians, artists and interior designers.
A "Creative/Performance Resume" emphasizes performance by positioning selective accomplishments immediately following the opening statement. Here is an example: Creative/Performance Resume.
Special Considerations for Submitting an Online Resume
Many employers offer job seekers an opportunity to submit a resume electronically. Depending on an employer's preference, an online submission may be done by attaching your resume to an e-mail message, or by uploading your resume directly to a company web site.
To make an electronic submission, you must have an e-mail address. Moreover, your e-mail address will tell employers something about you, so your address should be professional and dignified, not something that uses a nick-name or slang. If you don't have an e-mail address, there are many common and popular e-mail services that are free, including Hotmail, Yahoo and Netscape.
Tips for formatting your resume for electronic submission:
- Create your resume using a standard word processing application such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect (many employers prefer Word).
- Use simple, direct typefaces such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica. Avoid fancy, unusual, or hard-to-read script.
- Avoid using any pre-formatted resume writing packages in which you fill in the blanks. However, some employers will require you to provide information about yourself before they will allow you to upload or paste your resume, and you should completely answer these online questions.
- Many online resumes are automatically converted to plain text formatting, which is very basic. Do not use bullets, bold face, underlining, italics or graphics. These are not recognized in the plain text format. Use asterisks (*), plus symbols (+), dashes (--) or capital letters to achieve similar effects.
- Avoid decorative graphics.
- Send a formal cover letter as an attachment with your resume. Do not use a standard e-mail message in lieu of a cover letter.
Useful Job Search and Interviewing Tips To Use Before, During and After an Interview
Before the Interview
- Research the company, industry, job, salary and benefits as much as possible. Use the company's web site to determine its mission, culture, products and distribution, and salary and benefit parameters. Use other web sites as well. Ask friends, neighbors and relatives who work for the company, or in the industry, for information. Use the library and local chambers of commerce as resources.
- Learn everything you can about the job and how well your previous experience, knowledge and training qualifies you for the position.
- Collect all the information you will need to complete an application, including dates, names and contact information of previous employers and of references. Bring your Social Security card, driver's license, union card or other certificates appropriate for the job. Bring extra copies of your updated resume.
- Dress appropriately for a business meeting. Consider acquiring a good "interview outfit." It should be in good shape (including shined shoes) and fit properly and comfortably.
- Get directions to the interview site and do a "dry run" beforehand to determine the best route and allow you enough time to arrive early on the day of the interview.
- Arrange for babysitting and transportation so that you can arrive early and feel relaxed.
During the Interview
- Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to complete the application. Read the entire application first and follow directions in completing it. Print neatly and spell words correctly. Do not leave blank spaces unless instructed to do so; if something does not apply to you, print N/A for "Not Applicable." Double-check information, looking to see that it is complete and contains no errors such as overlapping employment dates. Be sure to sign the application.
- Be friendly to the receptionist and everyone you meet.
- Just before the interview, remind yourself that you will be discussing a position that - at the moment - is the most important job in the world.
- Shake hands firmly and maintain eye contact.
- Learn the interviewer's name, title and contact information (for your follow-up letter).
- Avoid negative remarks about former employers or co-workers.
- Let the interviewer direct the conversation. Answer questions clearly and in a positive manner. Show how your experience and training match-up with the job requirements.
- Allow the interviewer to lead into the discussion of salary and benefits. Avoid naming a specific salary; one that is too high may prevent you from getting the job, and too low under-sells your value to the company. Answer questions on salary with responses such as, "I am interested in the job as a career opportunity, so am negotiable on the starting salary."
- Ask when a decision will be made and if and when you should follow-up with a phone call. Thank the employer for the interview and reaffirm your enthusiasm for the job.
After the Interview
Within 24-hours, you should send a thank-you letter to each person in attendance during your interview. Your typed letter (never send a hand-written note) should follow business correspondence style. You should feature a few highlights from your conversation and any agreement to follow-up. And reaffirm your interest in the job. View a sample thank you letter here.