We’ve all gone out into the job market for any of a variety of reasons – just out of school, changing careers for more money or better opportunities, looking for a better change at advancement, spouse re-located, laid off from a prior job, company went out of business, or even just looking for a change of pace. Regardless of the reason, here are a few steps to think about that might give a little structure to this process. You can read many more articles on our website, Talent Exchange USA, but this overview can help get you started.

Step #1 – Identify Your Talent

To start with, it’s important to be self-aware. Knowing what you’re good at early in the game will make the entire process of securing a new job go more smoothly. To start with, don’t sell yourself short. You should make a list of everything that you’re good at. Think about things you’ve done well at other jobs, and also think about things you do well outside of a work environment. Knowing what you already have a natural talent for can help you think about careers you may have never had the opportunity to pursue before. You should really stretch yourself to think “outside the box” and even include special skills your friends and family may have commented on. Don’t be bashful when you prepare this list – you’re the only person who will see it, and you will want to refer back to it when you’re farther along in your job search.

Step #2 – Identify the Career You Want

Start thinking about careers and begin scanning some of the larger job search engines like Indeed.com and Monster.com. At this point, you aren’t looking to apply for jobs – just recognizing what all jobs listed are a good match for your talents and starting to form some ideas on what type of careers you are interested in. Refer back to your list of talents during this process – the best thing that can possibly happen during an interview is for you to get the opportunity to tell the interviewer that you are very talented at performing the work and that you have a natural interest in doing it because you enjoy using this certain talent. While you’re looking at job listings, remember that you’re looking for jobs where you can enjoy using your natural talent, and this may include a type of work you’ve never done before. That’s okay! Many employers give talent and sincere interest more weight than previous experience. After all, isn’t it easy to explain during an interview that a prospective employer should hire you since you have the talent to perform the job well and enjoy doing the job rather than hire someone else who may have experience, but lack the inclination to do the job well or lack the true interest in the job to stick with it for a long-term career?

Step #3 – Prepare an Effective Resume

Be sure to take the time to prepare a good resume. Even if you are going to apply for jobs where a resume isn’t required, the information you compile in a resume is often requested on job applications and having a resume handy makes job interviews go much smoother. Whether you believe it’s a valuable exercise or not, trust us — just do it.

To start with, never forget that the resume is designed to tell your prospective employer what they need to know to make a determination about whether to invite you to take additional steps with them. Consider it a first date – after the employer has read the resume, you don’t want them to ditch you. Write your resume the same way you would go on a first date – putting your best foot forward, being completely honest, and trying to present information that makes the employer interested in you to such an extent that they will want a second date – that is, to call you in to talk to you.

You can find resume templates on a number of websites and in the software that comes with most computers. And to be honest, the template you choose doesn’t really matter. An employer who has looked at thousands of resumes will tell you that the content is all that really matters no matter how attractive the format, font, etc. looks.

At a minimum, any resume should contain a section listing education and a section listing employment history. While you want to put your best foot forward, always be honest with your choice of words. If you haven’t completed a degree, don’t represent that you have. Your wording should clearly explain whether you graduated at a school or studied at the school, whether you received a degree or were working towards a degree, etc. If you present it one way on the resume and have to explain it differently later on, the relationship you have with your potential employer has been damaged – even if to a small degree. If you think you can dupe an employer by excluding these sections, you should realize that the resume will almost certainly not be given serious consideration. In the employment history section, do not mention why you left each job. This will likely be on the employer’s job application form and can be better explained at an interview.

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