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Take Charge of Your Job Search: 12 Steps to Success
by: Michelle Casto

Despite what many people may say, a job search does not have to be an unpleasant experience. There are those people who choose to take charge of the process, who actually find the process to be very rewarding and stimulating. Conducting a job search is in many ways a self discovery process and an opportunity to put your true endurance and attitude skills to the test.

Here is the secret to experiencing job search success: Be Productive, Be Proactive, Be Positive, Be Persistent, and Be Polished. It is a very easy formula to follow: Do your homework on what you want to do and where you would ideally like to do it. Do more than you think is necessary before it needs to be done. Maintain a positive attitude, it will make all the difference in the world. Don’t give up too easily, good jobs go to those who “keep at it.” And throughout the entire job search process, be sure to look and act the part of a professional.

Steps to Help You Take Charge of Your Job Search:

1. Clarify Your Career Goals: When you know what you are looking for in a career, it is much easier to locate a job in that field. If you are not sure what you want to do with the rest of your life, see a career coach or counselor for assistance.

2. Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter: Invest in a resume and cover letter reference book to view examples of good resumes. Use the examples as a guide to create your own version. Think of your resume and cover letter as “self-marketing” tools. Then, have a few, qualified people review and critique your first few drafts. (Remember, these are works in progress that are never really finished, as you will be continually updating them).

3. Identify Potential Employers: Appropriate employer directories and resources are available for your use in the library or local university career center. Get familiar with books, magazines, and on-line reference materials in your career field and use them regularly. Only rely on the resources that help you to identify relevant employment contacts.

4. Establish a Network: Identify people in various organizations and companies who can give you insight into their employment needs. Identify faculty, acquaintances, friends, and relatives who can assist you in your job search. Become actively involved in professional organizations.

5. Research Potential Employers: Read literature about them, talk with people who know of their work, check them out on the internet. Gather as much information about the company as you can, so if you ever get an interview, you will already be prepared.

6. Practice Your Interviewing Skills: Make an appointment for a mock interview session with a qualified career counselor. If possible, video-tape yourself to see how you can improve your interviewing technique.

7. Conduct an Informational Interview: Ask your contact(s) if they have a half hour to talk with you about their industry. Ask a lot of questions, listen up, and take notes. This is an ideal time to ask if there are any job opportunities within their company and/or people they may know that you should contact. Have a resume in hand, just in case they ask for it.

8. Follow Up with a Thank You Note: Immediately following the interview, send the person or persons you met with a thank you note to show your appreciation. For actual job interviews, follow up with a telephone call within an appropriate amount of time to find out the status of their decision. Show interest without being overly aggressive.

9. Get Organized: Place all of your job search materials in one binder, so that you can refer to the information easily and quickly. Make notes to yourself about the interview, something the person said you would like to remember, or other important information.

10. Develop the Skills and Qualities that Employers are Looking For: Desirable skills include: Good oral and written communication skills, initiative, honesty, reliability, the ability to work in a team, and resourcefulness. Equally important skills to have are appreciation of diversity and the technological know-how for access into your industry.


Character (someone who abides by morals and high ethics in all situations),

Confidence (someone who is comfortable leading and following, composed, and has healthy self esteem), and

Competence (someone who possesses the knowledge, skills, and motivation necessary to succeed in their career field).

11. Continue to Learn: Stay abreast of current trends in your field. Read, Read, Read. Attend workshops or lectures about your field of interest. Always be open to new information.

12. Repeat this Process: Repeat this process until you have secured your desired position.

Keep in mind that a full time job search may take anywhere from six months to a year to conduct, so be sure to start early. And remember that in the job search game, there are three kinds of people:

There are those who are destined to be successful.

There are those who are determined to be successful.

There are those who are neither destined or determined to be successful.

Which kind of job searcher are you? To be successful, take charge of the process and use the 5 P’s. All it takes to land your ideal job is a lot of hard work, fore-thought, maintaining a positive mental attitude, having a high level of energy, and displaying professionalism.



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