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Chapter 20 Communicating for Employment

If you call failures experiments, you can put them in your résumé and claim them as achievements.

Mason Cooley

Volunteer—not so you can build your résumé, but so you can build yourself.

Author Unknown

Getting Started

Introductory Exercises

  1. Where Are You Now? Assess your present knowledge and attributes by completing the self-inventory below. Where do you need to focus your efforts when it comes to your job search?

    Yes Unsure No
    1. I have a good understanding of my career options.
    2. I have a good understanding of the work-related skills I will need in my chosen career and a plan to get them.
    3. I know where I can get useful information about careers.
    4. I have created a transferable skills inventory.
    5. I have a written up-to-date résumé.
    6. I know how to prepare an effective cover letter.
    7. I have both professional and social networks.
    8. I have discussed my career objectives with my academic advisor.
    9. I am comfortable in interviews.
    10. I have chosen my major based on the job market.
    11. I have chosen my major based on my personal interests.
  2. Conduct an online search for job descriptions associated with your chosen career and think about what tasks are accomplished in a typical day or week. If possible, also talk to someone who is employed in that career. Note the kinds of writing skills that are involved in carrying out job duties or tasks. Share your results with the class.

As you prepare to embark on your job search, you may be asking yourself a couple of questions:

I won’t graduate and be in the job market for a couple of years. Do I need to work on résumés and networking now? Yes, absolutely! Even though you aren’t yet graduating from college, there are many benefits to starting now. As a student, you are likely to be applying for part-time jobs, internships, and even volunteer positions. Networking is a process of building relationships, and the strongest relationships are built over time. Having a good network will help identify interesting and relevant opportunities. Having a résumé that summarizes your strengths and skills will give you an advantage over other candidates who apply without a résumé, because job application forms rarely give the opportunity to highlight your strengths. Furthermore, a résumé is an updated record of your skills and experience; it makes sense to capture your accomplishments as they happen and will save you a lot of time in the future.

I don’t have any work experience. How can I write a résumé? You may not have any work experience, but you do have experience and skills. Focus on your transferable skills, and list examples of how you have used them. Think of organizations you have been involved in and volunteer work you have done. It is OK to include high school accomplishments if you've graduated within the last 3-5 years, and you can replace them with college accomplishments as you gain them. It is also OK to include your GPA if you're proud of it, because among other things a good GPA can help show that you are disciplined and organized.

This chapter will help you develop a sense of who you are and what you do well. You'll discover the importance of networking, the résumé, and the cover letter. Finally, you will learn how to prepare (and ace!) the job interview.