Find a Job

Are you ready? You are going to need an updated résumé, a winning cover letter, and in some situations a portfolio of your work. You will also need to know how to use your contacts to tap into that hidden job market. This step will provide you with information and activities to really make you shine.

You’ll learn:

For the most part finding and getting a job relies on your ability to get an employer’s attention. Employers expect you to know job search strategies and how to represent yourself. To be successful you need to be clear about what you want to do, know what your skills are, and know how to target your job search.

Using the Job Search Target (pdf), write down the occupations you are interested in and qualified for, the industries you are interested in, and any employers that you are interested in.

Learn about the Hiring Process

Each employer has his or her hiring process. But here are four common steps. It is important for every job seeker to do well at each step.  

1. The employer looks for the right people for their job opening.
  • Many start by looking at their own employees. They may ask for referrals from employees and others they know. This is called networking.
  • Employers may consider people that they have met or know in the industry.
  • Employers may advertise the job. They may advertise on websites or online job boards.
  • Employers may work with a recruiter or agency or attend job fairs.
  • Employers also ask applicants to send résumés and cover letters to the company.
2. The employer screens the applications.
Often there are many people who apply for one job. The employer reviews all applicants with the desired skill set. Then, the employer may call a candidate to ask them questions, or they have people come in for an interview
3. The employer sets up interviews with people who seem to fit their needs.
At the interview, the employer asks people about their skills and background. They are also looking to see if people will fit the company culture. They look for things like a "can do" attitude. They look for people who can get along with others. They also want people who like to learn and work hard. This also gives the job seeker an opportunity to interview the employer. The job seeker wants to make sure that this job is a good fit.  
4. The employer makes an offer to a selected applicant.
The employer chooses the person he or she wants to hire and offers them the job. If he or she accepts the position then it is time to discuss the salary and benefits. This is called negotiation. This agreement has to benefit both parties. Sometimes the salary and benefits are not negotiable, but other things like the probation period and the work schedule are negotiable. A job seeker can walk away from an offer if it is not good for him or her.  

Market Yourself

It is very important that you can show that you are a good fit for a job. The person who gets a job may not be the most skilled, but they may have been good at promoting themselves. Here are some tips to help you market yourself.

Create your "one minute me speech."

Having a “One Minute Me” (also known as the elevator speech) prepared takes advantage of the unique opportunity that you have when meeting someone for the first time because;

The goal of this technique is to share about yourself and include:

Prepare your own One Minute Me Speech (pdf).

Examples of elevator speeches:

What to Put in Your Portfolio

Be prepared and organized.

  • Track the activities you do for your job search.
  • Make a portfolio. A portfolio of your work can show employers your accomplishments. You may include samples of work and school projects. You can put these samples in a binder. Some people like to put their samples online. You can bring your portfolio to job interviews.


What to Put in Your Portfolio
If you are a: You could include:
  • Photographs of your work
Chef or baker
  • Photographs of food or meals you've made
  • Recipes you created
  • Letters of recommendation from past bosses
Computer programmer or multimedia specialist
  • Screenshots of your programs
  • Printout of the computer code you wrote
  • Letters of recommendation from past bosses
Dancer, actor, or musician
  • Video of your performances
  • Audio recordings of your work
Fashion designer or tailor
  • Pictures of the clothing you produced
  • Wear your own creations on the job interview
Office support staff
  • Brochures for projects you helped plan
  • Reports
  • Newsletters you organized
  • Spreadsheets
  • Other examples of work that you completed
  • Letters of recommendation 
Writer or journalist
  • Copies of published articles
  • Printouts of your writing from websites
  • Videos of your news stories

Build Your Network

Did you know that most job openings are not advertised? It's true — most employers have enough applicants without advertising. They often prefer to find employees from people they trust. This network of referrals is the "hidden job market." You can tap into this network by getting to know people who can help you. Don’t ask them for a job. Ask them for information. 

Use the Your Network (pdf) to organize everyone that is in your network.

Tips for Building Your Network
Ask for information.
  • You can ask about the occupation. You can also ask about industries or employers.
  • Ask about what you want to know.
  • Be polite. Don’t be too pushy or you may turn people off.  
Be prepared to talk about yourself.
  • Make sure you’re clear about your job skills and background for your job target.
  • Have a résumé ready.  
Follow good networking habits.
  • Networking is like making friends. It's about building relationships.
  • Think about ways to give something back to those who have helped you.  
Find people in your job target.
  • Start with friends, family members, past coworkers, and neighbors. They may know someone in your target job or at your target company.
  • Find networking groups on Meetup or the Scioto Ridge Job Network Group.
  • Tell them about your career goals.  
Send thank-you notes when people are helpful to you.
  • Always say thank you for any information or job leads you obtain.
Find a mentor.
  • This is a person who knows about the occupation in which you are interested.
  • Get feedback on your job search ideas and questions.
  • Ask to shadow someone on the job. 
Look into professional groups.
  • See if your job target has a professional group. Many members are eager to help job seekers. They may know employers with job openings.
Keep your key contacts informed about your efforts in the job search.
  • Your key contacts want to help you.
  • Create an e-blast that updates your job search and email it to your network.

Connect with People Online

Networking is just talking with people. Social networking is talking with people online. Employers post jobs on all social media.

Be careful.

  • Never list your address, phone number, or bank accounts. Don’t give anyone your social security number.
  • Be positive. Don’t argue with people online. It is likely that employers will see everything you post.
  • Scammers may try to sell you training or job search assistance that should be free.  
Common Social Networking Websites
  • Many people connect with others in their career field to learn about events and trends through LinkedIn.
  • LinkedIn can be used to research employers.
  • Start by creating a profile on this site. This lists your skills, career goals, and past jobs.
  • Connect with people you know. You can ask them to post recommendations for you. You can find others in your field by seeing the contacts from people you know. You can ask to add them to your “connections.”
  • You can also search for groups with your career interests. These groups update information often. You can ask questions and get job leads in these groups.
  • Twitter is an online social networking and micro-blogging service where registered users can write and send 140 character tweets. Unregistered users can only read tweets.
  • Twitter sends very short messages to many people at one time.
  • You can use it to update "followers" on your career or find job leads.
  • Employers use it to tell people about job openings. They also use it to learn more about applicants.
  • Job seekers post their basic information. They may link to their résumés or blogs. 
  • Facebook is a place to connect with your friends, people, and organizations. You make connections with people who share your interests.
  • You can search for people who work for employers you’d like to learn about. You can ask to connect with them about your job search.

Find Job Openings

Now, spend time researching employers. How do you know which employers to research? There are two ways. One is by finding advertised job leads. However, most people get jobs through the hidden job market by using the contacts in their network.
Here are some ways to find job leads. Once you find job leads, make sure you research each employer. Be sure to research employers before you apply. Then, contact employers directly. 

Find Advertised Jobs:

  1. Employers’ Websites
    Most employers post their job openings online. 
  2. Job Boards or Job Banks: These are websites that post job openings.
    Your state has a job bank with jobs from all types of employers.
    You can also use Indeed or Craigslist for a local job search.
    Many industries or professional associations have job banks. You can find these professional associations by using an online search engine.
  3. Temporary or Placement Agencies:
    These employment agencies find short-term and contract positions. You can find employment agencies by using an online search engine. 

Research and Contact Employers

Use Research occupations, industries, and companies (pdf) to target your job search.

Contacting Employers

Once you know a bit about your target employers, you can call them. Know what you are going to say before you call. Use the Employer Contact Script (pdf) to help plan your conversation. If you feel like you have a good connection, offer to send a cover letter and résumé.  

Tips for Calling Employers
Write down what you want to say. This is important if you are not used to calling employers. Don't read your script; your conversation should be natural.
Smile while you are talking on the phone. It makes your voice sound cheerful and relaxed.
Your outgoing voicemail message should not have music, jokes, political or religious messages on it. Just say your name and ask the caller to leave a message in a positive voice. 
Tell anyone else you live with that employers will be calling. Ask them to take clear messages and give them to you right away.
Call back all employers who call you, even if you no longer want the job.
Return all phone calls within 24 hours.
How to E-Mail Employers
Use a simple e-mail address with your name or initials for your job search. Don't use inappropriate nicknames or jokes like ""
Start the e-mail with something of interest to the reader. Let them know right away why you are writing and how you can help their business.
Write the e-mail the same way you would a letter. Don't use online acronyms such as OMG, LOL, etc.
Have a subject line that is clear and interesting.
At the end of your message, tell the employer you plan to follow-up. Give them another way to contact you such as your phone number. If you sent the e-mail without them knowing, ask if they want you to keep in touch with them in another way. 
Check for the correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
If the employer does not contact you and you really want an interview, call them.

Apply for Jobs

Employers ask about job seekers in several ways. Pay close Employers ask about job seekers in several ways. Pay close attention to what the employer wants from job seekers. Make sure you send them the documents they want. Common documents used to apply for jobs include applications, résumés, and cover letters.

Job Applications
Employers use an application to learn about you. They compare the job seekers to see who best matches their jobs. Use words from the job description if they fit.

Job Application Tips
Make a rough draft. Get your references now.
Get a copy of an application (pdf). Fill in all of the fields. Make sure you know all of your past employers and dates you worked. You’ll also need addresses and phone numbers of past employers. Get feedback on how you answer each question. Use your rough draft to fill in all of your applications.

Follow the directions. Be honest.
Read the entire application before you start it. Pay close attention to what they ask you. Do not write in sections where they say “do no write below this line." Also, do not write where they say “for office use only.”

Fill out applications neatly and completely.
Answer all of the questions. If one doesn’t apply to you, you can use “N/A.” This means “not applicable." This shows the employer that you did not overlook anything.  

Always list your "position desired."
This is your job search target or the title from a job lead. 

Give a range for your salary.
Employers may use this question to screen out applicants. Use an appropriate range or say “negotiable” if possible. This leaves you room to negotiate a higher wage. 

Give positive reasons for leaving jobs.
Choose your words carefully with this question. Don't say "Fired," "Quit," "Illness," or "Personal Reasons." Instead, use reasons like, “Better opportunity”, “Relocated”, “Attended college.”

Write Your Résumé

Résumés are not a list of what you did. They list what you can do. When describing work experience, start with an action verb. Do not say “responsible for.” Good résumés use skill language. List the common skills and experience that employer’s want. Again, use your occupational research to know what employers want.

Résumé Formats
  • A chronological résumé lists your work history starting with the most recent employment. This is the most common type of formatting and is utilized by job seekers remaining in the same or similar occupation.  
  • A functional résumé groups your skills and experience by skill areas. These skill areas are called “functions.” This format is utilized most often by job seekers changing careers or with gaps in their employment history.  
  • A combination résumé combines the other two formats. It groups your skills by function- and lists a short work history.  


What to Include on Your Résumé
  • Contact information tells the employer how to reach you. It is very important for setting up interviews. You must list your home and email address. 
  • A summary or profile statement shows why you are a good fit for your targeted employment opportunity. You can highlight your skills and traits that make you the best candidate for the job.
  • Your work experience describes your skills, accomplishments, and your previous employment.  
  • Your accomplishments and awards on the job or in school. Also include quotas that you met or money you saved past companies, number of customers you helped, or other outcomes that help a business run well.
  • Education lists your degrees and classes. Omit years of graduation. Include licenses or certifications

Résumé Writing Resources

Create Cover Letters

A cover letter must accompany a résumé. It explains specifically how you are fit for the position, why it interests you and why they should contact you.

Parts of a Cover Letter

Heading and greeting
Every cover letter should include the date of the correspondence. List your name and how to contact you. Address the letter to a specific person or “Dear Hiring Manager”.  

Opening and introduction
Explain who you are and why you are writing. Tell them how you found out about the position.

Explain why you are a perfect and unique match for the position. Explain why you have chosen the employer. Use 5-7 bullets to highlight the assets you offer to the position.

Assertive closing
Be positive. Tell them you will contact them and follow-up as you have indicated. 

When you apply for jobs, you will be asked for references. They should be former supervisors or colleagues. Choose your references carefully. You want people who will say good things about you. Make sure to ask your references for permission to list them and tell them if they may be contacted by a potential employer. You’ll need to list their names and contact information.

Online Cover Letter and References Resources

Know How to Interview

As you search for a job, your networking contacts will help you to find job leads which will turn into interviews.

Interview Tips

Setting Up Job Interviews
Think about what you are going to say before you pick up the phone to call an employer.

  • You will have about 20 seconds to make the employer want to meet you. Therefore, what you say has to be brief, to the point, and persuasive. 
Prepare for an Interview
  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. You may be required to fill out paperwork before the interview.
  • Go by yourself. If a friend or relative drives you, have them wait in the car.
  • Dress professionally. It should fit the job for which you are interviewing.
  • Bring your sense of humor and smile.
What to Bring to an Interview
  • Extra copies of your résumé, your reference list, and examples of your work.
  • Papers needed to complete your application. This includes copies of work licenses, your driving record (if required), and your social security or immigration cards.
  • Questions you may want to ask during the interview.  
During the Interview
  • Display confidence. Shake hands firmly, but only if a hand is offered to you first.
  • Sit up close to the table with hands on the table.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Let the interviewer start the conversation.
  • Listen carefully. Give honest, direct and concise answers. (PAR or STAR method)
  • Accept all questions with a smile, even the hard ones.
  • Think about your answers in your head before you talk. If you don't understand a question, ask to hear it again or for it to be reworded. You don't have to rush, but you don't want to appear indecisive. 


Interview Preparation
An interview is just a conversation. You want to find out what they need, and they want to learn what you can do. Tell them how it is you can do that, and make sure they heard you. 
Research: Look at the company’s website.
  • What do they do?
  • What do they value?
  • Google them to see if there is any recent news regarding them.
  • Look at the position.  
Review Your Work History
  • What experience that you have relates to this position? Focus on these things in the interview. Everything else is extraneous.
  • For each position, answer the following: what did you do, what did you like most, what did you like least, why did you move on?
  • Look at any gaps, and think about any jobs you did not leave simply for a better opportunity. Why did you leave?
  • Is there any experience in the job description that is not reflected on your résumé or application? Be prepared to tell what you DO have that relates to this item. If you don’t know what a term in the job description or posting means, Google it. Ask people you know for help.  
Prepare for the Most Common Questions
  1. Tell me About Yourself: This consists of what in your background fits this position and this company. End with, “And that’s why I’m excited to be talking about this position with you today.”
  2. What are your three greatest strengths? Give an example of each.
  3. What is your greatest weakness?
  4. What is an accomplishment of which you are most proud?
  5. How much are you looking to earn?
  6. Why should I hire you?  
Prepare for Behavioral Questions
Most interviews are behaviorally based. You answer the questions using the PAR technique.
P- Tell the Problem VERY briefly. They understand there was a problem, don’t build it up or spend time proving it.
A- What action did you take?
R- What was the result?
  • Prepare five stories, using the PAR technique to highlight your strengths, an accomplishment, and a time something didn’t go your way or you weren’t getting along with someone.
  • Most people forget to tell the result. Remember end on the positive!  
Get Ready for the Interview
  • Put out your clothes tonight and shine your shoes.
  • Make sure you know how to get there, and take the contact information of the interviewer with you.  
End Well
  • At the end of the interview, let them know the fit you see there, and ask for the job, or what the next step is.
  • Make sure to get their business card(s).
  • Send a thank you note within 24 hours.  


Some Reasons Why People Don't Get Hired After an Interview
  • Application form or résumé is incomplete or sloppy
  • Arriving late for the interview
  • Didn’t ask questions about the job
  • Failure to express appreciation for interviewer's time
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm
  • Lack of maturity
  • Lack of planning for career; no purpose and no goals
  • Negative attitude about past employers
  • Nervousness or lack of confidence and poise
  • No genuine interest in the company or job
  • Overemphasis on money
  • Overly aggressive behavior
  • Poor personal appearance
  • Responding vaguely to questions
  • Unwillingness to accept an entry-level position

Follow-up after the interview.

Send a thank-you letter or note to each person who interviewed you. Your letter should have these main ideas:

Negotiate a Job Offer

Negotiating your salary is a key part of the job search. Wait until after you get a job offer to talk about pay and benefits. Negotiating is a two-way street. Use the tips below that work for you.

Salary Negotiations
Always try to have an idea of what the range is if possible and yet avoid giving your range.
Salary range resources to consider

Also check with the professional organizations you are associated with for any survey information they may have available.
Always research or ask for information on benefits, vacation etc. after the offer and before negotiating, so you can decide.

Guidelines For Negotiations

The Negotiation Process

  1. Obtain the offer with excitement and ask when a verbal response is needed or suggest a time you can get back to them.
  2. Analyze the offer to get missing information.
  3. Evaluate the offer and decide your goals/trade off and walk away point.
  4. Initiating a Negotiation
    a. Once again express interest/excitement about position/company and that you have really thought through it.
    b. Indicate you have several components to discuss and are confident you can both agree on a positive outcome.
    c. Indicate areas of agreement first and then discuss and resolve areas of differences
  5. Affirm the agreement and accept the offer.
  6. Ask for a final offer in writing and establish your start date.

The Major Negotiation Factors

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