Do You Really Know What Job You’re Looking For? Really?

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You need a job. So what’s the first thing you do? Look for job openings and send your resume, right? Wrong!

Contacting employers and applying for jobs is never the first step of a job search, no matter how badly you need a paycheck.

Take a look at any career planning process, like the career cycle on this Job Seekers Guide. Notice that applying for jobs is near the end, not the first step. That means if you jump right into sending out your resume, you could end up in the wrong job, or embarrass yourself in front of employers.

Before you apply for you jobs, think about:

  1. the type of job that fits your skills and career goals
  2. what training or credentials you need
  3. how your skills and experience fit the job you want

An experience worker will be able to go through Steps 1-3 quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes. Less experienced job seekers or those changing careers will need to take time to research their options and possibly enter a degree or training program.

Any job seeker who doesn’t know what positions for which they qualify, should NOT contact employers for job interviews. You should assess your skills and do industry research before applying for jobs. It’s not the employer’s job to tell you if you qualify for the job or not.

Before looking at job postings, take a minute to discover all the jobs you might be qualified for and which match your career goals.

1. Identify how your skills match occupations (jobs).
Use the CareerOneStop Skills Profiler or another skills assessment to generate a list of occupations (jobs) that might fit you.
2. Choose a career path you want to pursue based on your skills match, interests, salary requirements, your education level, and other factors.

3. Network with people in your chosen field to find “the inside scoop” about companies and your career path. Do informational interviews with potential employers to find out if your skills and personality would be a good match for the company if they had any openings.

4. Revise your resume and cover letter to match your chosen career path. Remember, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all resume.”

5. Post your resume on your state’s job bank. These Web sites have openings from all types of companies. State job banks do no charge employers to post jobs, so you will often find openings from small and medium-size companies that do not publicize jobs on other sites.

6. Continue to research employers and network to find good job leads.

If you follow the natural progression of the career planning cycle or another career planning tool, you will feel more confident and focused when it’s time to interview for jobs.

Keep looking up.