My Students’ Blog

Employment Basics and Getting a Job

Being Prepared is Half the Battle

By Colby Collins

Being an employed individual in America’s economy is something everyone will experience throughout their lifetime. Whether you go to college, or go straight into the workforce after graduation, basic skills that lead to landing a job are essential for everyone to know and use when they need it.

The first thing to consider when looking for work is what you are capable of and what experience you have. Many jobs require a specific amount of experience or education to be considered, however many do not. Another consideration is how often you are available. Many employers want employees who are available and you could gain an extra edge over other candidates if you have more open availability than they do. That means if you are attending school, some employers might not even take a look at your resume, so you must have an idea of what your possibilities are.

The next thing on the list is the job search. Life can become overwhelming when attempting to search for a job, and depending on the area you live, there may not be a lot to choose from. However, there are many places you can search for jobs. These include wanted signs, company websites, job search websites (like, or mutual connections. You may find a job you are really interested in, and believe you are a great candidate, but that doesn’t mean you should stop searching. Even if you have all of the qualifications, there is still a good chance you will never hear back after submitting an application.

After finding jobs that are a potential fit for you, you must submit your resume/CV, and potentially a cover letter to them. If you are applying for a position in-person, you will attach these documents with your application and turn them in, although more and more companies are resorting to online methods of finding candidates that will require these documents to be submitted online. Taking away the face-to-face aspect of applying for many positions means you need to make sure your resume stands out and gets the recruiter the information they need in a concise manner, because you won’t be able to make your first impression in person. Rather, you need to show the company that you are what they are looking for from just a page (or two, if you have a cover letter) of writing .

In that regard, there are several ways to ensure your resume will have a good chance of standing out to recruiters. Beth Cambell from Open Colleges notes, “Since you are not likely to know who is reading the resume, you want to make sure that when the resume grabs attention, the content keeps the reader engaged. Fancy formatting doesn’t gloss over a poorly written resume.” The purpose of a resume is to tell the company that you are employable and meet the requirements of the position, so be sure to keep that in mind when formatting your resume to the job in which you are applying. Further, large blocks of text and too small writing can make your resume an eye-sore. If it doesn’t look like something you would stop to read, the recruiter probably wouldn’t either.

Interviewing is a very important part of getting a job. The way you stand out at an interview will absolutely play a major role in whether or not you get a job. During an interview, you must know what the employer is looking for and how you can show them that you will perform in the position they need filled. You will also have to be prepared to answer questions relating to the position, who you are, your previous experience, and anything else the interviewer feels is relevant. One thing to note is that many of the questions during interviews aren’t looking for a face-value answer, rather they want to see how you apply yourself in a way that will be useful to them as a company. This is true whether you are applying for an entry level job or a career-oriented job. The questions being asked are essentially a test, and your responses directly determine if the recruiter is going to consider you for the position.

There are many skills you will want to use to have a successful interview. First and foremost is communication. Speaking clearly and concisely in itself will help you appear more professional in the eyes of an interviewer. Also, having done research about the company you are interviewing for will make the interviewer know you are serious about the position. As stated by the Experis Career Resources team, “Prepare to go into every interview with three to five key selling points in mind, such as what makes you the best candidate for the position. Have an example of each selling point prepared (“I have good communication skills. For example, I persuaded an entire group to …”). And be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want that job – including what interests you about it, what rewards it offers that you find valuable, and what abilities it requires that you possess. If an interviewer doesn’t think you’re really, really interested in the job, he or she won’t give you an offer…” Connecting your personal selling points to the values of the company you have found from your research can be very effective. You must also be prepared to answer a wide range of other questions, all in which are attempting to see if you will be a good value within their company. Lastly, it is very important to have a good idea of the most basic interview questions and have pre-decided answers in your head. It doesn’t look good when an interviewer asks, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and you tell them you aren’t sure.

Overall, these basic skills of landing a job will come up in everyone’s lifetime, and it’s great to be prepared. Putting in the effort and research to land a job you want will pay off. There is something out there for everyone, and only you can decide what path you will take, learning the necessary skills along the way.

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