Find a Job

Are you ready? You are going to need an updated resume, a compelling cover letter, and in some situations a portfolio of samples of work. You will also need to know how to use your contacts to tap into that hidden job market. This section will provide you with information and activities to really make you stand out as well as be organized in your job search.

You’ll learn:

Before you begin, it’s a good idea to set up a “work area” in your home. The most basic necessities are a phone with voice mail and a filing system. Set aside a space where you can keep all your records, research projects, and job search materials. This is your new “‘office.” Dress for work each day and maintain a structured daily schedule such as modeling a 9-5 workday.

Examples of Weekly Job Search Activity Goals

Keep in mind that finding and getting a job is based on your ability to capture an employer’s attention. Employers expect you to know job search strategies and how to present yourself. To be successful you need to be clear about what you want to do, know and be able to articulate what your skills are, and be an expert on your own job search target.

Job Search Target

If you don’t know what you are looking for, how can you find it? You may have several job targets. Flexibility is the key to finding work. If you know who you are, what you have to offer and are clear about your priorities, it is easier to see the possibilities that have a good chance of working for you.

You can use the Job Search Target (pdf) to write down the occupations you are interested and qualified to do, the industries you would like to explore, and any employers that you would like to work for.

Use the Job Search Checklist (pdf) to keep track of each step. 

Learn about the Hiring Process

Each employer has a unique hiring process. Below are four steps that most employers use. It is important for every job seeker to do well at each step.  

The employer looks for the "right" people for their job opening.
  • Many start by looking at their own employees. They may ask for referrals from employees and others they know. These jobs are considered to be the in the “hidden” job market because they are never advertised, and only accessible through networking. Build Your Network talks about how to access the “hidden” job market.
  • Employers might consider people that they have met or know in the industry.
  • Employers might advertise the job. They may advertise on websites or online job boards.
  • Employers may work with a recruiter or agency. They may go to job fairs. 
  • Employers also ask applicants to send resumes and cover letters to the company.
The employer screens the applications.
Oftentimes, there are many people who apply for one job. The employer takes out the ones who aren't a good match. People may not have the right skills or experience. Or they don't do a good job describing how they are a good fit for the job. Sometimes employers use computer programs that electronically screen applicants’ resumes for keywords associated with vacant positions to determine which applicants are good candidates for interviews.  Then the employer may call a candidate on the phone to ask them questions—or they have people come in for an interview.
The employer sets up interviews with people who seem to fit their needs.
At the interview, the employer asks people about their skills and background. They are also looking to see if people will “fit” with their company. They look for things like a "can do" attitude. They look for people who can get along with others. They also want people who like to learn and work hard. This also gives the job seeker an opportunity to interview the employer. The job seeker wants to make sure that this job is a good “fit” as well.
The employer makes an offer to a selected applicant.
The employer chooses the person they want to hire and offers them the job. If they accept the job then it is time to discuss the salary and benefits. This is called "negotiation." This agreement has to benefit both parties. Sometimes the salary and benefits are not negotiable, but other things like the probation period and the work schedule are negotiable. A job seeker can walk away from an offer if it is not good for him or her.


Market Yourself

"Market yourself" means to show yourself in the best light to potential employers. It is very important that you can show that you are a good fit for a job. Sometimes the person who gets the job may not be the most skilled candidate for that position, but they may have been good at promoting themselves. Here are some tips to help you market yourself.  

Create your "elevator speech."

Think about being in an elevator with a potential employer. You have 30 seconds to market yourself. You want this person to know your job target and why you’re a good fit. Practice your speech with people who can give you feedback. Do they understand what kind of job you’re looking for? Do they understand why you would be good at it?

Example of an elevator speech:
“My name is Jane Doe. I have two years of experience as an office assistant. I also took classes in project management at Whatever College. I have worked in customer service most of my life. I was part of the team that completed the public initiative charter. I'm looking for an administrative support position or any position that can use my administrative and project management skills. Please let me know if I can help you or any of your colleagues on any special projects.”

 Use the Your Elevator Speech (pdf)  to create your own.

Build Your Network

Did you know that most job openings are not advertised? It's true — most employers have enough applicants without advertising. They often prefer to find employees from people they trust. This network of referrals is the "hidden” job market. 80-90% of jobs are now found using the “hidden” job market! You can tap into this network by getting to know people who can help you. The most effective use of job searching time is through networking and direct employer contact.

Use the Find Your Five (pdf) to organize everyone that is in your network. 

Tips for Building Your Network
Ask for information.
  • You can ask about the occupation. You can also ask about industries or employers.
  • Ask specific questions regarding information that you are interested in.
  • Be polite. Don’t be too pushy or you may turn people off.  
Be prepared to talk about yourself.
  • Make sure you’re clear about your job skills and background for your job target. Use your elevator speech.
  • Have a current resume ready.
Follow good networking habits.
  • Understand that it's all about building relationships.
  • Think about ways to give something back to those who have helped you.
Find people in your job target.
  • Start with friends, family members, past coworkers, and neighbors. They may know someone in your target job.
  • Tell them about your career goals.
Send thank-you notes when people are helpful to you.
  • Always say thank you for any information or job leads you get.
Find a mentor.
  • This is a person who knows about the occupation you are interested in.
  • Get feedback on your job search ideas and questions.
  • Ask to shadow someone on the job.
Look into professional groups.
  • See if your job target has a professional group. Many members are eager to help job seekers. They may know employers with job openings. 
  • Meetup is a great place to find targeted networking groups! You can even start your own group.
Keep your key contacts informed about your efforts in the job search.
  • Your key contacts want to help you. 
  • To avoid being considered spam, send emails to one or a few contacts at a time. This keeps your contacts’ information private and prevents your email from getting sent to the junk folder.


Connect with People Online and In-Person

One way to meet contacts using the Internet is through “social networking.” If you use them, be sure to think about your goals. Make sure what you write on these sites is well written by typing your text into a word processor (such as Microsoft Word) first. Get feedback about what you have posted. Use your Elevator Speech. People sometimes even post their resume on these sites.

Be careful.

  • Never list your address, phone number, or bank accounts. Don’t give anyone your social security number.
  • Be positive. Don’t argue with people online. It is likely that employers will see everything you post.
  • Scammers may try to sell you training or job search assistance that should be free. 
Common Social Networking Websites
  • Many professionals use LinkedIn. They connect with others in their career field and learn about events and trends.
  • To start, create your profile. This lists your skills, career goals, and past jobs- like a virtual resume.
  • Next, connect with people you know. You can ask them to post references for you. You can find others in your field by seeing the contacts from people you know. You can ask to add them to your “connections.”
  • Find out how/if you’re connected to the places you want to work at. Use this connection as an entry point- ask for an introduction or an informational interview.
  • Research employers and even find current job postings.
  • Search for groups related to your career interests. These groups update information often. You can ask questions and get job leads in these groups.
  • Twitter sends very short messages to many people at one time.
  • You can use it to update "followers" on your career or find job leads.
  • Employers use it to tell people about job openings. They also use it to find out more about applicants.
  • Job seekers post their basic information. They may link to their resumes or blogs.
  • You can also use this to find out current news, trends, and information by following experts in your industry or companies you are targeting.
  • Facebook is a place to connect with your friends and people they know. You make connections with people who share your interests.
  • You can search for people who work at employers you’d like to learn about. You can ask to connect with them about your job search. 
  • Even if you do not plan to use Facebook for professional purposes, make sure you don’t post inappropriate or incriminating pictures, or statements that may prevent you from being considered as a good candidate for a job. Employers can still look you up.

Connect with People In-Person: Networking Resources

Following is a list of resources for finding networking events.

​“You can get everything you want in life, by helping enough other people to get what they want!” –Zig Ziglar

Build Relationships First
  • Focus outward rather than inward.
  • Seek to make a connection.
  • Build rapport, find common ground.
Caring Attracts/Neediness Repels
  • “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
  • Respect everyone
  • How do you introduce yourself?
  • The five W’s.
  • Reflective listening techniques.
  • “To be interesting, one must be interested.”
The Law of Reciprocity
  • Be a go-giver not a go-getter.
  • What counts as a gift?
    Gifts can include: information, trust, praise & appreciation, feedback, access to network, contacts, references, invitation to an event, assistance (w/difficult tasks), smile, positive cheer, positive exposure, acknowledge milestones, mentoring, a personal note, caring, compassion, empathy, time, expertise, being courteous, cooperation, fun & laughter, listening, taking the afternoon off, sharing opportunities, or access to something special (event, rides, people, etc.).
Grow Contact Base
  • Join networking groups.
  • Attend networking events.
  • Network everywhere.

Fearlessly Networking For Jobs. (e-book) Ken Marsh
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Robert B. Cialdini Ph.D

What Networking Is What Networking Is Not
  • It is people talking to people for ideas, information, advice, feedback, and suggestions.
  • It produces information and information is power.
  • It’s the most valuable method for helping you achieve your objective goals in every part of your life.
  • It’s making others feel good about themselves and about you.
  • It moves you forward.
  • It gives you the power to act, rather than waiting for others.
  • It is not asking for favors.
  • It is not just collecting a big list of names to impress others.
  • It is not small talk or idle chit chat.
  • It does not always bring immediate results.
  • It is not just using a contact once. (It is developing contacts for a lifetime).
  • It is not, ever, a waste of time or effort.

Networking Cards
Networking cards are similar to business cards and are used in much the same way. Networking cards contain information including: your contact information, and your unique selling proposition or personal brand.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

A USP is used to differentiate one product from another. Usually, it is the one reason consumers will buy a product even though it may seem no different from many others just like it. It may be that the product has a lower price, more convenient packaging, or it may taste or smell better, or even last longer. 

  • What is the one thing that makes you unique? 
  • What makes you better than any other candidates applying for a similar position with this company? 
  • What can you offer that no other applicant can? 
  • What is the one reason that the employer should want to hire you above all other candidates?

Pertinent Contact Information

This is the information necessary to contact you. This should include: your name, phone number, email address, postal mail address, and cell phone number.

Networking cards can be created using MS Word and printed at home, at a print shop, or you can create them using a website like

On your Computer in MS Word:

  • Go to the “tool” menu from the top row.
  • Choose “Envelopes and labels” from the “Tools” menu.
  • Under “Options,” find the name of the paper manufacturer (Avery) and then find the correct product number in the lower left corner.
  • Type in the information you want on your card in the text box and hit “New Document.”
  • You can then format the cards exactly as you want them to print.
  • Print the final versions (on a high quality inkjet or laser printer only!)

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Research and Contact Employers

Employers prefer to hire employees that already know about their industry and their company. This exercise will help you organize the information you find about your target employers.

Use Research occupations, industries, and companies (pdf)
to target your job search.

Contact Employers
Once you know a bit about your target employers, you can contact them. Before doing so, you should know what you are going to say. Review the tips and questions provided in the section covering Informational Interviewing. If you feel like you have a good connection, offer to send a cover letter and resume.

Tips for Calling Employers
Write down what you want to say. This is important if you are not used to calling employers. Don't read your script; your conversation should be natural.
Smile while you are talking on the phone. It makes your voice sound cheerful and relaxed.
Your out-going voicemail message should not have music or jokes on it. Just say your name and ask the caller to leave a message.
Tell your roommates and family that employers will be calling. Ask them to take clear messages and give them to you right away.
Call back all employers who call you, even if you no longer want the job.
Return all phone calls within 24 hours.
How to E-Mail Employers
Use a simple e-mail address with your name or initials for your job search. Don't use inappropriate nicknames or jokes like ""
Start the e-mail with something of interest to the reader. Let them know right away why you are writing and how you can help their business.
Write the email the same way you would a formal letter. Don't use online acronyms such as IMHO, LOL, etc.
Have a subject line that is clear and interesting.
At the end of your message, tell the employer you plan to follow-up. Give them another way contact you such as your phone number. If you sent the e-mail without them knowing, ask if they want you to keep in touch with them in another way.
Check for the correct spelling, grammar, word use, and punctuation.
If the employer does not contact you, and you really want an interview, call them. 

How do I reach the right person?

Research the company, or person; try to find a contact name…..somebody who knows somebody in the company. can be a useful tool for this.

If you were told it was your job to screen your employer’s calls for importance, what would you do?  YOU WOULD SCREEN YOUR EMPLOYER’S CALLS. These annoying people that prevent you from reaching the right person are sometimes referred to as gatekeepers. How do you get past them?

  1. Gatekeepers usually work from 9 – 5. Supervisors and Directors often come in earlier and leave later. Try making your calls from 8 – 9 A.M. or 5 – 6 P.M.
  2. You may want to ask for the name of the person in charge and then call back the next day asking for Mr. Smith, regarding some information you need. (You were told to speak directly to Mr. Smith)
  3. Sound confident. The receptionist can sense if you are not comfortable making this call. Try this:

Caller: “Hi, this is Joe Confidence. I’m trying to contact the person in charge of marketing. Who would that be?

Gatekeeper: “That’s Mr. Know-it-all. He is the director.”

Caller: “I need to contact him about some marketing concerns. Does he have a direct number or an extension #?

Gatekeeper: His direct number is…….. Would you like me to transfer you?

Find Job Openings

Employers look favorably upon job seekers who know about their company. They also like job seekers who know why they would be a good fit for their company. Think about the type of job you really want and prepare yourself to go after it. You have already spent time researching employers, now it is time to find job openings. There are two ways to do this. The first is by finding advertised job leads on job search websites and employer’s websites. The other is by searching the “hidden” job market and utilizing the contacts in your network.




Find Advertised Jobs


Career Builder


CareerSource Palm Beach County


Career One-Stop




Employ Florida



Local Help Wanted












Aol Jobs


Job Diagnosis






The Ladders



Non Profit



Nonprofit Talent


Opportunity Knocks


City of Boca Raton


City of Delray Beach


Federal Jobs


State of Florida




US Dept of Veteran Affairs


US Small Business

Work from Home



Dice: IT


Retirement Jobs


Roadtechs: engineers, technicians and skilled trades


Higher Ed Jobs




Apply for Jobs

Employers ask about job seekers in several ways.  Pay close attention to what the employer wants from job seekers.  Make sure you send them the documents they request, which may include: a list of references, a writing sample, or a portfolio of work.  The most common documents requested are applications, resumes, and cover letters.

What to Put in Your Work Sample Portfolio
A portfolio of your work can show employers your accomplishments. You may include samples of work and school projects. You can put these samples in a binder. Some people like to put their samples online. You can bring your portfolio to job interviews.

What to Put in Your Portfolio
If you are a/an: You could include:
  • Photographs of your work
Chef or Baker
  • Photographs of food or meals you've made
  • Recipes you created
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Computer programmer
or multimedia specialist
  • Screenshots of your programs
  • Printout of the computer code you wrote
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Dancer, actor, or musician
  • Video of your performances
  • Audio recordings of your work
Fashion designer or tailor
  • Pictures of the clothing that you have produced
  • Wear your own creations on the job interview
Office support staff
  • Brochures for projects you helped plan
  • Reports
  • Newsletters you organized
  • Spreadsheets
  • Other examples of work that you completed
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Writer or journalist
  • Copies of published articles
  • Print-outs of your writing from websites
  • Video of your news stories

Resumes vs. Applications

Each potential employer will ask for different documents to apply for a job opening. Many times the employer will ask for both an application and a resume. Here is a description of the purpose of each document.

Resume Application
Your personal advertisement Your personal job history
Selective inclusion of information Factually accurate
OK to omit jobs or degrees Not OK to omit jobs or degrees
General or specific details Very specific
Serves your purpose Serves purpose of the employer

Job Applications

Employers often use a form to learn about each job seeker. This form is called an application. They compare the job seekers to determine who would be the best fit for the job opening. Use words from the job description to show that you are the candidate they have been searching for.

Job Application Tips

Make a rough draft. Get your references now.
Get a copy of an application (pdf) and fill in all of the fields. Make sure you know all of your past employers and the dates you worked. You’ll also need addresses and phone numbers of past employers. Get feedback on how you answer each question. Use your rough draft to fill in all of your applications. 

Follow the directions. Be honest.
Read the entire application before you start it. Pay close attention to what they ask of you. Do not write in sections where they say “do no write below this line." Also, do not write where they say “for office use only.”

Fill out applications neatly and completely, and use correct spelling and grammar.
Answer all of the questions. If one doesn’t apply to you, you can use “N/A.” This means “not applicable." This shows the employer that you did not overlook anything.  

Always list your "position desired."
This is your job search target or the title from a job lead. 

Give a range for your salary.
Employer may use this question to screen out applicants. Use a range or say “negotiable.” This leaves you room to negotiate a higher wage. 

Give positive reasons for leaving jobs.
Choose your words carefully with this question. Don't say "Fired," "Quit," "Illness," or "Personal Reasons." Instead, use reasons like: “voluntarily resigned”, “left employer voluntarily”, or “voluntarily quit.”


Write Your Resume

A resume is a communication tool. Job seekers use it to list their skills and experience. Employers use resumes to choose who to bring in for an interview. 

Resumes are not a list of what you did. They list what you can do. When describing work experience, start with an action verb. The worksheets below are adapted from resources provided by Ometz Agency in Montreal, Canada.

Action Verbs for Resumes (pdf)

300 Action Verbs to Add impact (pdf)

Key Words that Employers Value (pdf)

Good resumes use skill language. List the common skills and experience that employer’s want. Again, use your occupational research to know what employers want.

Resume Formats
A chronological resume (pdf) lists your work history starting with the most recent. This is the most common type. It is used by people who are staying in an occupation.  
A functional resume (pdf) groups your skills and experience by skill areas. These skill areas are called “functions.” It is used mostly by people with little to no work history.
A hybrid/combination resume (pdf) combines the other two formats. It groups your skills by function, and it lists a short work history. It is used by people who are changing occupations.  

New to the workforce? Here is a Sample Resume (pdf) that can help you develop your first resume. 

What to Include on Your Resume
Contact information tells the employer how to reach you. It is very important for setting up interviews. Most people list their phone number and email. 
summary statement shows why you are a good fit for your target. You can highlight your skills and traits that make you successful.  
Education lists your degrees earned and relevant coursework if applicable. Remember to include licenses or certifications.
Your work experience describes where you worked, your skills, and accomplishments.  
Your accomplishments and awards on the job or in school. Also include quotas that you met or money that you saved past companies, number of customers you helped, or other outcomes that help a business run well.

Online Resume Writing Resources

JFS Resume Writing Workshop
JFS has regularly scheduled Resume Writing Workshops. Contact CES to reserve your space in the next workshop.

From this workshop, candidates will:

  • Understand how to write their resume.
  • Gain knowledge about how to tailor and target a resume for a specific job.
  • Learn the process of creating powerful accomplishment statements.

What is the Purpose of a Resume?

The main goal of your resume is to obtain an interview. It must answer the questions:

Your resume should:

Identify your achievements and skills.
What makes you unique?

Because past performance is the best predictor of future performance, the more achievements you can identify, the easier it will be to impress a potential employer. Achievements illustrate your abilities and skills, and are indicative of your potential for taking initiative and solving problems; in short, delivering value to an employer.

The following questions can be used to trigger your memory of past achievements and skills:

Transferable Skills
Using the Transferable Skills (pdf) identify tasks you have performed well in previous jobs and think how that experience could be applied to situations in the future.

Other resume considerations:

Transferable Skills
Identify tasks that you have performed well in previous jobs and think how that experience could be applied to situations in the future.

Scannable Resumes
These are documents that use technology which enables employers to scan your resume for keywords. You need to research your industry and/or the requirements of the jobs you are seeking to make sure you’ve included relevant information.

Changing Careers
Remember that if you are looking at jobs in a different field your resume must be revamped to make it relevant to the new requirements and particulars of the current posting.

Choosing the Right Resume Format

There are 3 types of resumes: chronological, functional, and combination. They differ only in the way the job history is presented. Select the format that showcases your knowledge, skills, and accomplishments to your best advantage.

Chronological Functional Combination
  • Emphasizes relevant work experience, continuity and career growth
  • Highlights transferable skills not apparent in job descriptions or acquired in other ways
  • Good for beginning or changing career paths, immigrants, students, volunteers and people who traveled
  • A way to bring together disjointed employment experiences; cover gaps
  • Highlights both skills and experiences
  • Most detailed and comprehensive format
  • Good for targeting a specific job or industry
  • Exposes gaps in employment history
  • Skills may not be readily apparent
  • Reveals age and/or lack of experience
  • Long affiliations can be interpreted as not embracing change
  • Fails to provide support, with specific sources, for the skills highlighted
  • Does not represent a clear career path
  • Can be confusing, if not well written
  • Potential to lose focus

Creating a Polished Accomplishment Statement (pdf)

Remember, your goal is to identify special skills or abilities that set you apart from the competition. Your added value shows that you bring much more to the role than what is merely expected. It shows employers how you rise above the competition.

Examples of strengthening the language in your resume.

Sector Skill statement- basic Skill statement- stronger
Secretarial/Writing Writes reports and letters Writes letters, memos and reports that command attention and achieve maximum impact with clarity and consistency

Writes documents that achieve results

Computer Skills Handles computer problems Excels in diagnosing and solving computer malfunctions

Was instrumental in skillfully transferring manual functions to computerized systems

Construction Completed all projects Budgeted, planned, designed, and oversaw construction of commercial building projects of $54 million from site search to occupancy

Designed and managed Class 100 clean room for semiconductor manufacturer which increased product yield by 10-15%

Sales Managed existing accounts Consistently increased sales objectives by 40%

Provided exceptional customer service and developed strong client relationships

A Summary of Resume Do’s and Don’ts

Remember: Your resume is your marketing tool – You are the product!

DO: Ensure your resume is focused and matches the targeted position
DO: Make certain your resume is clean, lean, concise, and specific
DO: Maintain consistency with font titles and style
DO: Create a professional image with visual appeal on good quality paper
DO: Modify your resume to match each position
DO: Always accompany your resume with a unique cover letter
DO: Limit employment history to between ten and fifteen years

DO NOT: Include any information relative to salary on your resume or cover letter
DO NOT: Use your current work email address: create one for professional use and one for personal use
DO NOT: Use I in the resume
DO NOT: Include information that reveals your age, health, marital status, dependents, religion, height, weight, race,
DO NOT: Include a picture
DO NOT: Include reasons for leaving last employer
DO NOT: Use abbreviations, &, or Etc.
DO NOT: Put a title on your resume  i.e. Professional Resume
DO NOT: Have an overly long resume; it should not usually be over 2 pages
DO NOT: Send out a poor resume because you believe that it is better than no resume at all

Three Phrases to Ban from Your Resume

If you've been working with an older resume, take a closer look at your language, and ask: how many clichés do you have in there? Find ways to be detailed about your achievements and quantify how you’ve added to the company’s bottom line. Show who you are and what you’ve done to make you stand out. Here are 3 phrases you should ban from your résumé, and new, fresh ways to showcase your skills.

  1. "I'm a Team-Player."
    This is one of the most over-used clichés, so try to find a way you can show that you are this team player. Did you collaborate with someone or with a department to meet an objective? Put that on your résumé instead of a vague, clichéd expression. Be detailed about your achievement.
  2. "I Have Great Communication Skills."
    Communication skills can mean so many things, which is why using this term on your résumé only makes you lose your recruiter's interest. What communication skills did you use to contribute to your employer? Did you create a presentation, a press release or lead a conference call? State your specific achievement.
  3. "I Have a Strong Work Ethic."
    A strong work ethic - that sounds great, right? You're not the only one using this cliché, so freshen up your resume by stating how you go that extra mile. Did you take a class to improve your skills? Did you meet some really tough deadline? Show the hiring official what makes you this person with a strong work ethic, instead of using another cliché like your fellow applicants.

Show, don’t tell: Find ways to be detailed about your achievements, to make you stand out as the memorable candidate you are.  Fleur Bradley,

Ten Phrases that Employers Value

  1. Excels in developing new markets
  2. Orchestrates successful programs
  3. Excels in building a powerful project management team
  4. Writes persuasively to achieve maximum impact
  5. Stays on top of emerging technologies
  6. Communicates with credibility and confidence
  7. Demonstrates success in reducing costs while maintaining high quality
  8. Generates fresh ideas
  9. Makes sound decisions under pressure
  10. Quickly grasps new routines and explanations

Create Cover Letters

A cover letter is a letter that you send with a resume. The cover letter makes your resume more personal, and is targeted to a job lead and employer. It shows the employer that you read and understood the job description and gives the employer key points about why you are the right person for that job. You can view sample cover letter templates (pdf) here.

Parts of a Cover Letter

Heading and greeting
Every cover letter needs the date. List your name and how to contact you. Address the letter to a specific person when possible. Be sure to follow directions regarding subject reference. The employer may request that you reference the position you are applying for, the date the position was posted, etc.

Opening and introduction
Explain who you are and why you are writing. Tell them how you found out about the position.

Sell yourself. Reveal why you are a perfect and unique match for the position. Explain why you have chosen the employer. No more than 2 short paragraphs.

Assertive closing
Be positive. Tell them that you will contact them, and when. Thank them for their time. Be sure to follow up when you say you will.


Know How to Interview

Your resume and cover letter grabbed the attention of the employer and you have been asked to come in for an interview. Are you prepared to turn those interviews into job offers?

Interview Tips
Setting Up Job Interviews
  • Think about what you are going to say before you pick up the phone to call an employer.
  • You want the employer to think of you as a good future employee.
  • You will have about 20 seconds to make the employer want to meet you. Therefore, what you say has to be brief, to the point, and persuasive. 
Prepare for an Interview
  • The day before your interview, think about what types of questions the employer might ask you and prepare answers you can give in less than 2 minutes.
  • Plan your interview attire ahead of time. Map out the location and estimate travel. This will help you get organized and be less stressed the day of the interview.
  • On the day of the interview:
    • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. You might need to fill out paperwork before the interview.
    • Go by yourself. If a friend or relative drives you, have them wait in the car.
    • Wear an outfit that is professional looking. It should fit the type of job for which you are interviewing.
    • Do not wear fragrances in case one of your interviewers has allergies.
What to Bring to an Interview
  • Extra copies of your resume, your reference list, and examples of your work (portfolio).
  • Papers needed to complete your application. This includes copies of work licenses, your driving record (if required), and your social security or immigration cards.
  • Questions for you to ask during the interview.  
During the Interview
  • Display confidence. Shake hands firmly, but only if a hand is offered to you first.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Let the interviewer start the conversation.
  • Listen carefully. Give honest, direct answers.
  • Accept all questions with a smile, even the hard ones. Take your time when answering the hard questions.
  • Think about your answers in your head before you talk. If you don't understand a question, ask to hear it again, or for it to be reworded. You don't have to rush, but you don't want to appear indecisive. 

Interview Preparation Activities

Do these activities before every interview – if possible, go over the questions and answers with a friend (at the very least in the mirror!), and practice your answers until they sound polished and confident (but not rehearsed!).

Practice Activities

Ten reasons why you’re the perfect person for the job
These are the key facts from your experience, skills, accomplishments and/or personality that make you a good match for the job. Try to work one of them into every answer you give – and if at the end of the interview you realize one or more of them hasn’t come up, bring it up!

Ten questions they will ask you during the interview, and your answers
Include both standard and "situational" questions. Your answers should be brief, complete, and thoughtful.

Questions to ask them about the job or company
Show that you’re interested! Pretend you’re a reporter and you’re going to write a story about the company and/or job – what would you want to know? Use the Sample Questions below to start your list.

Ten things to avoid doing/saying during the interview
What mistakes have you made in past interviews? What bad habits do you want to avoid displaying, or issues you want to avoid disclosing?

Online Interviewing Resources

Sample Questions to Ask the Employer During the Interview
Below is a list of questions you may consider asking during your interview. If you already know the answer to the question; either from the job description, information provided during the interview, or from your research of the company online; do NOT ask the question. If you still need clarification about anything that can be found while researching the company, be clear about where you found the information and follow it up with the question.

The employer will want to know….

  1. Can you do the job?
    You must prove you have the skills and knowledge to achieve desired outcomes. For example, outcomes can be described as: to increase sales, to decrease errors, to satisfy customers, to perform up to standard.
  2. Will you do the job?
    You must convince them that you are motivated to work well and hard; that you have a good attitude and want to work for this particular organization.
  3. How will you fit in?
    You must illustrate that you are the kind of person whose personality and behavior will blend into the organizational culture.  

To answer those questions, you must know what the job requires.
What are the main tasks of the job? What outcomes does the employer expect?
You should list the tasks and duties of the position. Be as specific as possible. To find out more about the job, you can read typical job descriptions using the National Classification of Occupations and other career information.

How to Get Your Point Across

You WILL be creating a first impression, what do YOU choose it to be?????

7 % Words
38% Tone of voice
55% Facial expression, body language

Storytelling Propels Careers

Concrete examples from your own experiences (work and/or life) demonstrate that you can do the things you say you can do. By revisiting a Situation, Task, And Result, you can develop stories illustrating your skills.

How STAR stories help you do well at interviews:

  1. Stories establish your identity and reveal your personality. Stories satisfy the basic human need to be known. This is a very important goal for job seekers!
  2. Stories help you know yourself and build confidence. Developing and telling your stories can become the underpinning for self-authentication. As you see common threads and patterns emerging in your stories, you will understand more about yourself, your goals, and your best career path. Understanding this can only help to improve your confidence.
  3. Stories make you memorable.  In Tom Washington’s book Interviewing Power; he states that “in less than three minutes, you can tell a powerful story that will make interviewers remember you favorably for days, weeks, or even months after the interview.” We remember people who tell us stories because stories form the basis of how we think, organize, and remember information.
  4. Stories establish an emotional connection between storyteller and listener and inspire the listener’s investment in the storyteller’s success. When stories convey moving content and are told with feeling, the listener feels an emotional bond with the storyteller. Often the listener can empathize or relate the story to an aspect of his or her own life. That bond instantly enables the listener to invest emotionally in your success.
  5. Stories make you stand out. Many other job seekers vying for the same position probably have similar qualifications to yours. However, they will most likely not be demonstrating those qualifications in story form, which gives you the advantage of selling yourself in a very engaging way.
  6. Stories illustrate skills, accomplishments, values, characteristics, qualifications, expertise, strengths and more.  You can showcase any skill with a story.
  7. Stories paint vivid pictures. When your parents told you a story as a child, you probably visualized it in your mind like a movie. Job seekers can use colorful and even entertaining stories to imprint lasting visual images onto employers’ minds.
  8. Stories explain key life/career decisions, choices, and changes. Especially revealing to employers are personal and career stories about coping strategies, risky moves, and choices made under pressure, imperfections, and lessons learned from mistakes and failures.
  9. Stories told well help you portray yourself as a good communicator.

Use the STAR (pdf) worksheet to develop your own stories.

Interview Formats

A job interview is a two-way conversation with a purpose.  The employer wants to find out whether you can do the job and what kind of a person you are. You want to tell the employer what you can do and how you can benefit the company. The more you know about the company and the job, the better you can explain why you should be hired.  

Do not expect the interviewer to ask you all the questions that would uncover your best qualities. Be prepared to use their questions to weave in your strengths.

Apply your transferable skills: What qualities have you demonstrated at work, school, recreation or volunteer situations that would be relevant to skills needed at a job?

Employers are trying to assess your attitude, level of confidence, maturity, and get a feel for your values and work ethic. Your past behavior is an excellent predictor of future behavior so the interviewer will ask you for examples of where you had to use specific skills in the past.

Employers use a variety of interview formats to elicit information:

Goal: Employers want examples of how you handled situations.
Example: Tell me how you handled the situation in school when you did most of the work on a team project, but had to share the grade?
Goal: What can the employer learn about you from your actions?
Example: How do you handle stress?
Goal: To see what your values and attitudes are and how you might handle yourself in the workplace.
Example: By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
A co-worker tells you in confidence that she plans to call in sick while actually taking a week's vacation. What would you do and why?
Goal: Can you think out-of-the-box and apply general principles to the employer’s company?
Example: If you had an unlimited budget to apply to our company, what would you do with it?
Off the wall
Goal: How well do you think on the spot? Employers may ask you a question that seems completely bizarre to see who you are underneath your mask. 
Example: If a music video were made of you, who would star in it?

What are they really asking? (pdf) Some questions behind the questions.

Preparing for Behavioral Interview Questions
(adapted from

Behavioral questions try to get at how you responded to negative situations, for example: ‘Tell me about a time where you had to resolve a customer complaint.’ The best way to prepare for behavioral questions is to have examples of negative experiences ready, but try to choose negative experiences that you made the best of or -- better yet, those that had positive outcomes.

Here's a good way to prepare for behavior-based interviews:

Situation or
Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
Action you took Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.
Results you
What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

Use the STAR Interview Worksheet (pdf) to write down your scenarios.

Common mistakes made during the interview that significantly reduce your chances of being offered the position.
Application form or resume is incomplete or sloppy Nervousness or lack of confidence and poise
Arriving late for the interview No genuine interest in the company or job or overemphasis on money
Didn’t ask questions about the job Overly aggressive behavior
Failure to express appreciation for interviewers time Poor personal appearance
Lack of interest and enthusiasm Responding vaguely to questions
Lack of maturity Unwillingness to accept entry-level position
Lack of planning for career; no purpose and no goals Answering your cell phone while in the office
Negative attitude about past employers Being impolite to anybody at the employer’s site or office

Follow-up after the interview.

The job interview is not over when you leave the meeting. You have one more chance to impress the employer. Follow up the interview with a thank-you letter.

Send a thank-you letter or note (pdf)  to each person who interviewed you. Your letter should cover these main points:

If you told the interviewers that you would give them added information, make sure that you do. Keep track of when you said you would contact this employer to find out if you were hired. Don't forget to make that contact.

Be sure to check the grammar, spelling, word use and punctuation before sending the thank-you note or letter. If you choose to write your letter by hand, check with a friend to verify that your handwriting is legible.


It shows interest, organization, and that you are on top of things.

The person who lands the job is not necessarily the only who is the best qualified, but rather the one who knows the most about how to get hired!

It is not what you know, but who you know!
There are jobs out there. If you can’t find one:

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Reasons Why People Don't Get Hired After an Interview
  • Application form or resume is incomplete or sloppy
  • Arriving late for the interview
  • Didn’t ask questions about the job
  • Failure to express appreciation for interviewer's time
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm
  • Lack of maturity
  • Lack of planning for career; no purpose and no goals
  • Negative attitude about past employers
  • Nervousness or lack of confidence and poise
  • No genuine interest in the company or job
  • Overemphasis on money
  • Overly aggressive behavior
  • Poor personal appearance
  • Responding vaguely to questions


Negotiate a Job Offer

Negotiating your salary is a key part of the job search. Wait until after you get a job offer to talk about pay and benefits. Negotiating is a two-way street. People make these deals differently. Use the tips below that work for you.

Negotiating Tips
Think about the offer
  • Know what salary you can expect for the occupation.
  • Think about your pay needs based on your household budget.
  • Try to find out what the company pays before the interview. Call the human resources office or your networking contacts.
  • Pay is only one part of job compensation. A job with low pay might have good benefits like a flexible schedule or health insurance. Think about the job offer in terms of your needs and long-term career and life goals.
  • Talk over the offer with someone you respect. Make a list of the pros and cons.

Use good communication skills

  • If you can, do not accept a job on the spot. It's common to get a few days to think about it. Even if you know you are going to say "yes," ask for 24 hours. 
  • When offered the job, make it clear if you want it. If you are not sure, say there are some items you would like to discuss before you can accept the job.
  • Listen carefully to the offer. If it is different or less than you expected, let them know that. Say you are still interested in the job if they want to reconsider their offer.
  • Ask for basic, practical benefits first. Those requests might include more money, tuition, or training. You might also ask for more vacation time, a flexible schedule, stock options, or parking privileges.
  • Negotiations should never be mean or emotional. This is a business meeting. Use your values and skills to negotiate. Do not use your need for the job to negotiate.
Understand the rules of the game
  • Don't assume the first offer is fixed. Even if the interviewer tells you it is, it rarely is.
  • Did they offer the same pay and benefits a few days later? That's probably the final offer. When this happens, you can ask for a six-month review to look at your performance and pay. You can also turn down the job and ask that they keep you in mind for future openings. But don't burn bridges — you never know what might happen.
  • Don't say "no" as a trick to negotiate for more pay. You could lose the job forever.
  • When you accept their offer, ask them to put the pay and benefits in writing.


Job Search Resources for Special Populations

Below is a list of online resources that provide information for specific populations.

Individuals with Disabilities
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Coalitions for Independent Living Options
Your Ticket to Work
Mature Workers
AARP Job Hunting
Department of Labor: Information for Seniors
US Department of Veterans Affairs
Veteran Employment
Employment VetSuccess
GI Bill
America’s Heroes at Work
Vet Success
Career One Stop: Military Transition
Resources for Human Development: Veterans Issues
CareerSource Palm Beach County
Florida Choices
Resources for Human Development: Youth Development
Refugees & Immigrants
MyFL Families: Refugee Services
US Citizenship and Immigration
Free Resources for Learning ESL
Refugee Works


Succeed in the Workplace

You've found a good job. Now, how do you live up to your employer's expectations? What can you do to show you deserve a raise or a promotion? Here are some tips to help you keep and succeed in your new job:

Succeed in the Workplace
Stick to your work schedule
  • Always be on time to work. Have a back-up plan for transportation and child care. If you are running late, call your boss as soon as possible.
  • Don't take time off in the first few weeks. Let your new boss know you're dependable.
  • Leave and return from breaks on time. Let your supervisor know when you will be away from your workstation.
Follow the rules at work
  • Know the company rules and policies. Pay attention to all manuals, orientations, and safety lessons. If you are not sure of a policy, ask your supervisor or human resources.
  • Follow the proper chain of command if you have a problem at work. Talk to your immediate supervisor first, unless told to do something else.
Dress appropriately
  • When you start a new job, find out what clothing looks OK and is safe to wear.
  • Always come to work clean and well groomed. Do not wear heavy perfumes or colognes. Go easy on the makeup.
  • Look like you take pride in yourself and your job.
Act professionally
  • Don't make personal phone calls or use company equipment for your own tasks.
  • Speak in a way that's appropriate for work. Don't use curse words, slang, or speak too casually to customers or your boss.
  • Never use alcohol or illegal drugs at work. You could get fired if caught. It could also keep you from being hired for other jobs.
Get along with others
  • Be a team player and help coworkers with projects. You will likely share a workspace with a co-worker, so be courteous.
  • Hang around coworkers who have good attitudes and work hard.
  • Everyone has different views of politics, religion, and cultures. Most companies have rules supporting diversity.
  • Remember: you are now a representative of the company. Everything you do reflects on your employer.