First Steps

Getting started with your job hunt

Getting started

A successful job search requires a positive attitude, persistence and having a plan. Begin by determining what kinds of jobs will match your skills and interests. Then you’ll need to create a mindset and then put together the tools you’ll need to find employment.

Get to know yourself

If you’ve never worked before or didn’t like the jobs you did in the past, it’s time to get to know yourself better. By taking what’s known as a self-assessment, you will be able to discover the type of work that you might enjoy.

There are several types of self-assessments and interest assessments that are free to take.

The Quick Assessment on the California Career Zone website – which is useful and doesn’t require that you live in California – allows you to explore jobs that might match your personality. It only takes five minutes, and the Interest Profiler and Work Importance Profiler take about 30 minutes each.

There are a variety of free career interest assessments that you also may be interested in taking. Doing several of these assessments is well worth the time and effort.

Another valuable resource, which includes an interest assessment and other tools is Career Planning for People With a Criminal Record. Although it was developed for use within Minnesota prisons, it can be used by anyone.

Your e-mail address and voice mail message

Be sure your e-mail address is simple, straightforward and appropriate—no slang or double meanings. Your name makes a good address. If it is already taken, add some numbers. If you don’t have a computer, you can visit an American Job Center or your local library and use theirs.

Your voice-mail message should be short and sweet. Don’t include a portion of your favorite song or something you think is clever. Just “Hi, this is (your name). I’m not available right now. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you.”

Check out your online image

What you post on social media can keep you from getting a job. About 60% of employers use social media sites to research applicants, so begin by Googling yourself to review everything the search engine pulls up about you. If you have created pages or allowed others to post on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, make sure you check them out very carefully. Look for questionable pictures and four-letter words that might scare off potential employers.

Many job seekers actually deactivate their Facebook and Instagram accounts to avoid any possible confusion or unwanted attention from potential employers. You may want to do the same. You wouldn’t want a hiring manager see you doing something you might think harmless but could be misleading and invite judgment. Some things you post on social media may not be the image you wish to convey and could easily eliminate you from further consideration.

Check out a few job search resources and books

CareerOneStop, now known as American Job Center, has created Job Search Help for Ex-offenders, an excellent resource to help anyone who has a record find a job. This website is basically a one-stop shop for just about everything one would need to know about looking for a job, with tips and advice on how to find one.

You can also get a head start on your job search by reading some books on how to conduct a successful job search. You can purchase these on Amazon or may be able to check them out at your local library. Here are two we highly recommend:

Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed
by Mark Drevno
A step-by-step approach written specifically for ex-offenders.

What Color Is Your Parachute?
by Richard N Bolles
A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career–Changers