Job Seeking Skills

This section contains the following resources:

Steps to structuring your job search
How people find jobs
Networking..."your safety net" to job searching
Resume Format Instructions: Chronological Style
Resume Format Instructions: Functional Style
Resume Format Instructions: Combined Style
Sample Resumes
Interviewing Process
Dressing for Success

Steps to structuring your job search

Job searching can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Many job seekers, for example, complete applications for a number of companies and then just wait anxiously for someone to call.

To ease the frustrations related to job searching, we suggest becoming more structured with your job search. The more structured your job search, the less frustrated you will be and the less time you will have on your hands.

 

To structure or restructure your job search:

  • Visit a N.C. JobLink Career Center. Professional staff can assist you with the job search process and notify you as job openings occur.
  • Prepare a resume that works for you. A resume is a marketing tool which summarizes your education and work experience and informs potential employers of job skills you have developed from previous work experience.
  • Keep track of companies you have submitted a resume to or completed an application for with a monthly calendar. Tracking makes it easier to follow up with companies a few days after your initial contact.
  • Be certain your answering machine or voice mail has a professional greeting to record messages from hiring officials when you are away from home.
  • Understand the local labor market and research companies to determine the types of jobs available. Your local Employment Security Commission can provide you with labor market information.
  • Networking is crucial in uncovering the hidden job market by letting people know what type of work you are interested in. It is easier to spot the perfect job when you have more than one set of eyes looking.
  • Acknowledgements are important to the job seeker. Give yourself a pat on the back every once in a while. Job searching is a full-time job and you should periodically reward yourself for the work you have accomplished.
  • Send a thank-you note or letter to the employer after you have interviewed with the company. This shows your appreciation and gives you an opportunity to reemphasize key points that were previously discussed during your interview.
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How people find jobs

  • N.C. JobLink Career Centers
  • Talking with previous co-workers/employers
  • Newspapers
  • Talking with friends
  • Temporary employment agencies
  • Talking with relatives
  • Job Fairs or Career Days
  • Talking with neighbors
  • Internet
  • Talking with members from community organizations
  • Direct job listings/advertisements
  • Talking with members of social, hobby or sports groups
  • Indirect job listings or making cold calls to employers
  • Talking with classmates
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Networking..."your safety net" to job searching

Networking is one way to focus your job search by directly making a connection to the hiring official of a company.

Networking is the oldest and best method for uncovering the hidden job market. Letting people know the type of work you are interested in will dramatically improve your chances of making a connection that results in an interview.

The best way to visualize networking is to imagine a metal chain. Each link on the chain represents someone you know. As the chain builds with additional links, so does your connection with companies and hiring officials.

Networking Groups

There are two types of networking groups:

  • Primary network group consists of close relationships that you have established among friends and immediate and extended family members. You can always count on your primary network group.

 

  • Secondary network group is less reliable, but certainly a good resource to make connections with companies and hiring officials. Your secondary network group may consist of co-workers, previous employers, professors, neighbors, professional or social organizations, etc.

Building Your Network

Believe it or not, you have been networking since childhood. Discovering where people work and what they do is part of building your network base to make a connection to the hiring official of any company.

For example, your best friend may not know anyone that works for IBM, but he/she may have a friend that knows someone that does. You could ask your best friend if it would be okay to contact his/her friend. You will simply be adding links to your metal chain.

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Resume Format Instructions: Chronological Style


Recent graduates or job seekers with little to no work experience use this resume style. It summarizes your work experience and includes the name of the organization for whom you worked and dates of employment. Your resume should either be one full page or two full pages.

Name and Address Section

Include your full name, address and telephone number where an employer can get in touch with you. You may also include your e-mail address, fax number or Internet homepage address.

Career Objective (Optional)

Include an objective if you know the type of position that interests you and/or the industry for which you are willing to work. A career objective should never be general.

Ultimately, you should include between two to three skills that you are experienced in performing. The following are examples of the same career objective stated differently:

  • Manager
  • A management position in Southeastern North Carolina
  • A management position within the food service industry
  • A management position with XYZ Corporation
  • A management position benefiting XYZ Corporation through proven customer service and leadership skills.

Education

Include the institution name(s) for any degree or certification received. It is unnecessary to include high school education if you plan to receive or have received a higher degree. Include the degree you received or will be receiving and graduation date. Include your GPA if you have a 3.0 or above.

Work Experience

Include company name, location, job title and dates of employment. List skill statements to describe the type of work you performed. Skill statements are short, concise statements that begin with an action word.

There are basically three types of skills that are beneficial to a particular employer:

  • Marketable skills: These skills are the most beneficial to a particular employer and can be transferable to any industry from food service to pharmaceutical, for example.
  • Industry specific skills: These skills are beneficial only to a particular industry. For example, if you have developed experience using specialized software designed for food service, then you could not market this skill to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Soft skills: These skills describe your personality or characteristics that you have developed throughout your work history. Most of these skills must be supported by a third party and usually are not included on a resume.

Optional Categories

With the exception of your address, education and work experience section, everything else on a resume is optional. Optional categories include:

  • Interests
  • Certifications
  • Community service
  • Professional affiliations, etc.

Tips

  • Use heavy-bonded, conservative-colored paper (ivory, light blue, light gray, or cream).
  • Eliminate grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Incorporate measurable results whenever possible. Employers like to see numbers on a resume.
  • Be honest and never misrepresent yourself.
  • Use section headings and bullets so hiring officials can easily scan the resume.
  • Make sure you list correct personal information and if your telephone number changes, inform any potential employers of that change.
  • Be consistent. If you choose to center the section headings then continue to do the same throughout the resume. Do not have some section headings centered and others blocked on the left-hand side of the page.
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Resume Format Instructions: Functional Style


Frequently used by job seekers that are entering the labor force after a period of long separation, the functional resume format is ideal for:

  • Dislocated homemakers
  • Those just released from prison
  • Someone that has traveled extensively across country, etc.

It is a summary of your education and work experience, which downplays dates. However, it’s worth noting that employers prefer either the chronological or combined resume over the functional.

Career Objective

Can either be one word or an entire sentence. It is a statement that tells a potential employer the type of work you are interested in. A career objective can also include the type of organization and/or geographical preference.

A career objective is optional to include on a resume. If you choose not to include an objective, then you need to be clear within your cover letter as to the type of work that you are interested in performing.

Skill Categories

Do not include less than three skill categories or more than five. You may be creative in selecting the categories that will represent your skill sets. The following are examples of skill categories:

  • Operating systems
  • Teaching
  • Customer service
  • Technical writing
  • Budgeting
  • Marketing research, etc.

Skill Statements

Short and concise statements that begin with an action word to describe what you did. A minimum of three skill statements is necessary to justify or support a skill category. There are basically three types of skills that are beneficial to a particular employer.

  •  Marketable skills: These skills are the most beneficial to a particular employer and can be transferable to any industry from food service to pharmaceutical, for example.
  •  Industry specific skills: These skills are beneficial only to a particular industry. For example, if you have developed experience using specialized software designed for food service, then you could not market this skill to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Soft skills: These skills describe your personality or characteristics that you have developed throughout your work history. Most of these skills must be supported by a third party and usually are not included on a resume.

Work History

Include company name, location and job title. Do not include dates of employment.

Education

Include institution name, location, degree received and graduation date. It is unnecessary to include high school education if you received a higher degree. It is also unnecessary to include institutions that you attended, but from which you did not receive a degree or certification.

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Resume Format Instructions: Combined Style


Frequently used by job seekers with three or more years of experience, this format combines a chronological and functional resume style using skill categories to represent areas of experience in which skill sets were developed.

Here, you combine your work history into one big treasure box, for example, then emphasize those skills that best represent or support your skill categories.

Career Objective

Can either be one word or an entire sentence. It is a statement that tells a potential employer the type of work you are interested in. A career objective can also include the type of organization and/or geographical preference.

A career objective is optional to include on a resume. If you choose not to include a career objective, then you need to be clear within your cover letter as to the type of work that you are interested in performing.

Skill Categories

Do not include less than three skill categories or more than five. You may be creative in deciding the categories to use that will represent your skill sets. The following are examples of skill categories:

  • Analytical
  • Computer and troubleshooting
  • Counseling
  • Customer relations
  • Sales experience
  • Leadership abilities
  • Project coordination
  • Research experience, etc.

Skill Statements

Use short and concise statements that begin with an action word. A minimum of three skill statements is necessary to justify or support a skill category. There are basically three types of skills that are beneficial to a particular employer:

  • Marketable skills: These skills are the most beneficial to a particular employer and can be transferable to any industry from food service to pharmaceutical, for example.
  •  Industry specific skills: These skills are beneficial only to a particular industry. For example, if you have developed experience using specialized software designed for food service, then you could not market this skill to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Soft skills: These skills describe your personality or characteristics that you have developed throughout your work history. Most of these skills must be supported by a third party and usually are not included on a resume.

Work History

Include company name, location, job title and dates of employment.

Education

Include institution name, location, degree received and graduation date. It is unnecessary to include high school education if you received a higher degree. It is also unnecessary to include institutions that you attended, but did not receive a degree or certification from.

Tips

  • Use heavy-bonded, conservative-colored paper (ivory, light blue, light gray, or cream).
  • Eliminate grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Incorporate measurable results whenever possible. Employers like to see numbers on a resume.
  • Be honest and never misrepresent yourself.
  • Use section headings and bullets so hiring officials can easily scan the resume.
  • Make sure you list correct personal information and if your telephone number changes, inform any potential employers of that change.
  • Be consistent. If you choose to center the section headings then continue to do the same throughout the resume. Do not have some section headings centered and others blocked on the left-hand side of the page.
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Sample Resumes

These sample resumes are Adobe® Acrobat® PDF files, and require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have the free reader, you may download it from the Adobe website.

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Interviewing Process


Employers select job candidates whose education and work experience would be a perfect match for the organization. During the interview, it is your responsibility to verbally communicate how your job skills would be beneficial to the organization.

Understanding the styles or types of interviews can ease the stress of interviewing.

Types of Interviews

  • Structured or Formal - This interview style is most commonly used by local, state or federal government. The interviewer follows a specific outline in which he/she asks the same questions of all interviewees.
  • Unstructured or Informal - Interviewer does not follow a specific format and questions are generated from the interviewee's resume or developed during the interview. Employers within the private employment sector commonly use this interview style.
  • Casual - Employer conducts an interview during lunch/dinner or while playing a round of golf. This demonstrates to the employer how well someone will act in a casual environment. Avoid getting too comfortable! Remember that an interview is taking place and never order alcoholic beverages or smoke.
  • Stress - Interviewer initiates stress during the interview to see how the interviewee will respond. The interviewer may ask the same question over and over, or ask the interviewee to perform a complicated task within a short period of time. Stress interviews are common in both private and public employment sectors.
  • Panel - This interview style is designed to measure how well the interviewee acts within a group setting. There is more than one interviewer and the interviewee should acknowledge each interviewer with good eye contact when answering questions. Both private and public employers use this style interview.
  • Group - Employer interviews several interviewees at the same time. This creates competition among the interviewees. It is important to remain professional and refrain from competing with the other interviewees.

Get to Know Yourself

Employers are interested in "matching" the best job candidate(s) to their available position(s). Knowing the likes and dislikes of current or previous work experiences will help better prepare you for future interviews.

The vehicle for perfecting your interview lies within self-assessment. Be prepared to discuss in an interview the reasons why you liked or disliked performing the job duties from current or previous work experiences.

To do this, determine your likes and dislikes in relation to previous work or volunteer experiences. Start off by making a list of your job duties/skills and rank them according to their importance.

Next, write down two or more reasons why you liked or disliked performing those job duties. After you have compiled your thoughts and made a list, it should look something like this:

Job Skill Performed

Reasons

Supervised office in absence of management.

Enjoyed having responsibilities

Liked being in control

Provided customer service and handled complaints.

Enjoyed meeting different people

Liked resolving problems

Operated computerized cash register and stocked merchandise.

Liked handling money

Disliked placing products on shelves

General Interviewing Tips

  • Always arrive for an interview 5 to 10 minutes earlier than scheduled, but you should never exceed 15 minutes. Arriving late will not leave a good impression. If for some reason you find that you will be late for an interview, call the employer to let him or her know. Conversely, arriving too early can distract employees of the organization.
  • Be prepared. Bring extra copies of your resume, references, pen, and paper. You can distribute your extra copies if there are more interviewers present during the interview.

    Use the pen to write down important follow-up information such as a number to call to find out if you have made it to the final interview stage. It is embarrassing having to ask the interviewer for either a pen or piece of paper.
  • Do not smoke for at least one hour before and never smoke during a job interview. Avoid alcoholic beverages even if interviewing in a casual environment and the employer offers you one.
  • Introduce yourself to the interviewer and extend your hand for a handshake. Whether you are interviewing with a male or a female, always give a firm handshake.
  • Never slouch; sit straight with your feet flat on the ground or legs crossed. Avoid frequent movement of your legs such as your feet bouncing off the ground. Do not sit on your hands or cover your mouth when talking. Keep your hands flat on the arms of the chair or in your lap.
  • Remember that you are interviewing the employer as well. From the moment you walk into the organization, you should observe the work environment.
    Do the employees appear happy and friendly or are they frowning and sad? Does the work environment appear to be neat and clean or is it dirty?
    Focusing on interviewing the interviewer and assessing the work environment will help ease your nerves.
  • Right after the job interview, write down the types of questions you were asked and your responses to those questions. This will be a helpful tool that can be used in preparing for future interviews.
  • Send a thank-you note immediately after you have interviewed. Thank the employer for his/her time and reemphasize job skills that were discussed during the interview.
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Dressing for Success


The interviewer's first impression of you can either make or break you in a job interview. That is why it is important to dress appropriately when interviewing for a job.

If you are uncomfortable wearing business attire, try dressing in a suit and go to a mall or some other public place until you are comfortable with dressing that way.

You should dress according to the industry for which you are interviewing. A residential carpenter, for example, should wear attire appropriate to that field since most interviews will take place on the job site.

You also should adhere to proper grooming such as bathing, clipping and filing fingernails, combing hair, teeth brushing, and removal of excessive jewelry to include nose or tongue piercing.

Wear very little or no perfume/cologne and do not smoke, at least one hour before an interview. Many interviewers find cologne and cigarette smoke offensive, or may even be allergic to it!

Professional Attire

Professional business attire is strongly encouraged when interviewing for a professional job.

Men should wear:

  • A conservative, color-coordinated suit (navy, neutral or black)
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Tie, belt and watch
  • Well-polished shoes (preferably, black or brown).

Women should wear:

  • A conservative, color-coordinated jacket and skirt or pants (navy, neutral or black) with length of the skirt falling just below the knees
  • Low (1" to 2") conservative color pumps
  • Make-up applied conservatively and no excessive jewelry
  • Avoid bangle bracelets. The noise of the bracelets may distract from the interview.

Business Casual

Some interviews may be conducted over a sporting event, restaurant meal or some other casual environment. The attire will normally depend upon the environment for which the interview takes place.

Men should always avoid wearing shorts or women, mini-skirts. Men can wear navy or neutral color slacks with either a golf shirt or button-down shirt, tie and jacket. Women should wear a skirt, navy or neutral colored, or slacks.

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