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Your Career . . . Your Future.

Are you looking to further your career? Today’s job market is tight. Employers have a wealth of qualified candidates from whom to choose. A significant number of employers are farming out work to overseas vendors. You will be seriously considered for a position only by showing a prospective employer that you know who you are, where you are going, and what you have to offer. You must convince an employer that you can do the job, can do it well, and are highly motivated to do it. The best way to do this is to properly prepare. Treat the job search as a job, because that is exactly what it is.


Career assessment is the most important first step you can take when seeking employment, yet all too often it is bypassed entirely. Even most job search agencies do not stress this crucial component of career building. Whether you are seeking first-time employment or are an experienced member of the workforce, this procedure is absolutely essential if you are serious about capturing the employment opportunity for which you are best suited and which will bring you the greatest degree of job satisfaction.

Career assessment should be divided into three components — personality profile, skills assessment and needs assessment. Personality profiling identifies who you are; it includes such attributes as attitudes, comfort zones, ego, integrity, loyalty, motivators, prejudices, and work ethic. An individual who undergoes personality profiling may be surprised by what they learn about themselves. Skills assessment includes attributes such as speaking and writing, personal interaction, organizational abilities and job skills. Needs assessment, often (wrongly) set aside in favor of “a good-paying job”, includes such things as family time, caregiver status (if you have children, a disabled dependent or elderly parent who require your attention), your own physical limitations, transportation and travel distance, and — yes — career goals.


The goal of career assessment is to identify your strengths, weaknesses and requirements, then make changes that will lead you to the right employment opportunities. Once you have concluded your career assessment, review the results. Look first at your strengths to determine in what directions to focus your efforts and how to develop a plan of attack. Next, analyze your weaknesses. This is difficult for many people to do, but it is essential if your job search is to be successful.

You may discover that your professional or organizational skills need to be honed or updated; your response might be to accomplish this by taking an online college course or by utilizing computer learning tutorials. If you are not a good writer, you might decide to hire a professional resume writing service to develop a quality resume and accompanying cover letters. If you discover that you do not have sufficient professional recommendations, you may want to contact former business associates to see whether they will agree to give you a letter of recommendation.


Your resume is a marketing tool which should act as a door opener, inviting an employer to examine your credentials as a precursor to inviting you for an interview. All too often it may act as a door closer, ending up in the “circular file” because it lacked what was needed to make it — meaning you — stand out.

Style and content are of utmost importance in writing resumes. Since your resume is your marketing vehicle, it must be capable of grabbing an employer’s attention; style does this. Once the employer has begun to read, your content must persuade him or her that you are worthy of consideration. If you have described your past jobs purely in terms of duties and responsibilities that characterized the work, you should think about reframing those experiences to match the scenario of the job you are seeking.

It is important to tailor your qualifications to the job for which you are applying. To do this, review your career assessment worksheets and the job description information you have obtained. Remember that you accomplish your goal of being granted an interview by writing a winning resume and cover letter. Time is money here; remember, your job search is your job. It may be cost effective to hire a professional resume writer to write your resume or assist you in polishing your existing one. Many resume writing services also write cover letters for an additional charge, or may even include a cover letter template based upon the information in your resume.

Your job search should not begin until your resume is fully written. As mentioned above, it may become necessary to tailor your resume to specific jobs. This task can often be accomplished in your resume cover letter. Your cover letter is extremely important. It is here that you get the opportunity to personally introduce yourself and address topics pertaining to a specific job and employer or those not appropriate for inclusion in your resume.


Many avenues exist for performing a job search — government employment services, employment agencies (recruiters), online employment services and networking, to name a few. We have compiled a list of online employment services for you in our Job Finders & Job Search Engines. Most of these services provide free resume posting and job searching capabilities. Larger job search firms may also offer free information and advice to their registrants either on their websites or by newsletter.


The job interview is an exchange of information between an employer and a candidate for employment. Interviews must be prepared for; you should research as much as you can about the company and the position you are applying for prior to your interview. Interviewers tend to be impressed by applicants who arrive with foreknowledge of the company. Primary objectives during an initial interview should be to:
  • Generate a positive impression of yourself in your interviewer through personal interaction;
  • Provide your prospective employer with additional information about yourself that is not included in your resume or cover letter;
  • Learn as much as you can about the company and the employees with whom you will be expected to work.
Remember that a job interview is a two-way street. Not only is it the interviewer’s job to evaluate you; you should be evaluating your potential place of employment. Do not hesitate to ask questions, but choose an appropriate time for each question you ask. An interviewer will usually ask if you have any questions regarding the company or potential employment; generally, this occurs toward the end of the interview. A job candidate who asks no questions may be looked upon as someone either desperate for a job (and perhaps not a good fit) or as someone who is not really interested, so have a few prearranged questions at hand, just in case you can’t think of anything else to ask when prompted.

A positive attitude and positive self-image go a long way toward cementing a relationship with your interviewer. If you impress, it is not uncommon to be called back for a follow-on interview. Go into each interview with the same positive attitude you exhibited during your first interview.


A job offer may be extended during a follow-on interview (or even following an initial interview if you really wow those you have spoken with). Be prepared for this. Before you accept a permanent position, take the time necessary to properly evaluate the offer. Don’t jump at the first job offer you get. If you make a mistake, you can be stuck in an undesirable position. You should never be required to make an immediate decision regarding a bona fide job offer. Give yourself a little time to relax and think; doing so will ultimately place you on track for a bright career!

Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.  Original article published 1 July 2003, updated 20 July 2013.

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