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Looking for a position that is well suited to your own personal interests and talents is an involved and time-consuming process that requires much thought and research. We have compiled this guide in an effort to help you in your search.

We have done our best to compile a user-friendly collection of writings on career guidance. These guides will help you:

  • Create an effective resume
  • Research the job market
  • Create a contact network
  • Hone your interviewing skills
  • Negotiate to get the offer you deserve

Creating an Effective Resume

Resume Purpose

The first, and most critical, point for creating an effective resume is self-assessment. An accurate portrayal of your career interests can only be conveyed after identifying those skills, abilities, and values you want to find in your next job. The other half of resume preparation is a review of all the educational and occupational experiences you have had. Only when you have both of these elements solidly in mind and feel a focus towards your next position…begin writing your resume.

Understand the relative importance of a resume to your job search. A resume will not result in a job. Rather, it is a key marketing tool that will help you land an interview. It will be up to you to do the rest. We will cover more of that later in this guide.

If written well, a resume should generate enough interest to make an employer want to meet you. For those jobs in which written communication skills are essential, your resume and cover letter may be your most important marketing tools. Did you know that the first time an average employer reviews a resume, they spend less than 60 seconds on it? You must catch them in that time period and make them want to look at it again.

A resume is as important in creating a first impression with a potential employer as are over-the-phone and face-to-face contacts.


This needs to be the first step you take in looking for a job. When looking for a job, you are actually functioning as a salesperson, and the product is YOU. In order to be an effective Salesperson, you MUST be familiar with the product. You may think you know the product it is worth taking the time to do some self-evaluation. You may be surprised by how much more clearly you will see not only yourself, but also your image of the perfect job.

It is important to know what kind of person you are and which work environments are most suited to your own unique combination of skills, goals and areas of interest. Jobs that combine your best in these areas are the jobs in which you will have the best chance for success and where you will feel the strongest sense of job satisfaction.

Remember when you were a child and you wanted to be an astronaut or a firefighter or President? Nothing is set in stone; our dreams, goals and expectations tend to change as we grow and it is important to remain open to change. Put aside the expectations or successes of others. The fact that your parents worked successfully in private industry doesn’t mean that you would not be happier working for a government agency or a non-profit organization. Does the fact that your mother is a lawyer mean you have practice law as well?

To help ascertain which work environments and job types are best for you, it is worth taking the time to complete the following questionnaire. Find a quiet place where you can work uninterrupted. Don’t feel you have to complete this all at once. Work on it for a while and come back to it. Also, if you get stuck, brainstorm, or ask others for input.

Self-Assessment Questionnaire

When trying to discover and define your personal interest areas, think about the newspaper and magazine articles you turn to first. Are you more interested in the business section or the front page? Make a list of the news items, which have grabbed your attention over the last six months. Also, consider your favorite leisure activities- do they translate into job skills? For example, someone who enjoys entertaining may prove to be a good event coordinator.

[Take the questionnaire]


Resume Content

Now that you have completed the exercises and have a good idea of your next career move, the logical step in the job search process is writing a resume. In the majority of cases, resumes are the only documents a potential employer receives in determining whether or not to offer you an interview.

The content of a resume includes only that information that an employer needs to know about you to make a hiring decision. The essential components of a resume are:

Contact Information
Phone Number (include message number if you do not have an answering machine)
Email address (only include this if you check your email on a regular basis)

Summary Statement/Qualifications
Key knowledge areas i.e. industries, functions, regions
Highlight of relevant technical/specialized skills (marketing, strategic planning, advertising, etc.)
Complementary proficiencies (language study, computer skills, special interests as they relate to the position you are applying for)
Personal traits (i.e. teamwork, flexibility as they relate to the position you are applying for)

Employment History (Chronological or Functional format)
List your positions in reverse order (most recent first)
Highlight key accomplishments (cost savings, improved efficiencies, and special interests. Remember your Accomplishment Statements)
Minimize “lack of experience” indicators such as…..

Chronological Resumes
A chronological resume presents your work experience within the time frames you spent in each job. This is the most traditional and a good choice for individuals with steady and increasing responsible work experience and for job hunters whose recent employment is relevant to the job for which they are applying now. Refer to the chronological resumes at the end of this section.

Functional Resumes
Functional resumes are really a combination of functional and chronological. This combination style provides for a skills section, allowing you to group similar skills and accomplishments from throughout your paid and unpaid work history.

Although many employers prefer the more traditional chronological resume, it is not always the best style for those whose career paths have been somewhat erratic, for those looking to change careers, or for those whose recent work does not support their career interests. A functional resume focuses on what you have done rather than where you have been. Job titles, names of organizations and dates are not listed in the skills section, so volunteer jobs and gaps in employment can not be identified as easy as with the chronological style. Examples of this style can be found at the end of this section.

College/university degree- list degrees in reverse chronological order with the highest degree first.
Certification courses
Specialized training

Other Relevant information (only as it relates to the position)
Organizational affiliations
Professional Memberships
Civic/volunteer activities
Credentials, licenses and special skills
Publications (include unpublished as well IF it relates to your job target)

General Do’s and Don’ts of
Resume Writing

Content Do’s
• Present yourself accurately and positively
• Include only enough information to encourage an employer to find out more. List your most recent positions or areas of expertise first, then work backwards.
• Include brief descriptions (where appropriate) of the companies where you worked: size, sales, volume, products, etc.
• Stress accomplishments. Include figures and brief examples to substantiate claims.
• Leave out data that might result in discrimination (i.e. race, marital status, religion).
• Put education near the end unless there is a special reason to put it up front (i.e. teaching position).
• Use strong, succinct action words (i.e. “designed vs. worked on formulation of).
• Make the resume attractive to the eye, and make sure it has absolutely NO errors. Wherever possible, avoid underlining and using more than one font.
• Use the language of your future work. Make sure your resume is related to an employers need.
• Have several others proofread and critique your resume for accuracy and impact.

Content Don’ts
• Don’t have someone else write your resume (ask for advice and input, but you know yourself best and will have to defend the content).
• Make sure you do not come across as arrogant or overly confident.
• Don’t exaggerate your strengths and talents.
• Don’t use pronouns, abbreviations, jargon or buzzwords unless the terms are widely know and accepted or are industry/company specific.
• Don’t crowd the margins or use excessively small type.
• Don’t include references. Reference requests are made when there is an actual hiring interest, not before. At the end of your resume you may state, “ references available upon request,” or since this is normally assumed, the phrase may be omitted. As a matter of courtesy and to ensure that potential employers receive favorable references, always contact your references in advance.
• Avoid humor and vagueness.
• Don’t include personal information (weight, height, marital status, children, etc.)

Format Considerations

The appearance of your resume should invite further reading and ultimately assist in getting you in the door for an interview. Other things to consider include:

• Using a laser printer on good quality bond paper.
• Keep it between one and two pages in length.
• Make it easy to read. The size of the print should be comfortable (no smaller than 10-11) and the amount of information that is bold or underlines should enhance rather than overwhelm the reader. Allow plenty of white space on the page.
• Provide at least a one-inch margin on the left and right for the body of the document.
• Your resume must be flawless- no spelling errors, typos or grammatically incorrect phrases, incorrect dates of employment, correct phone numbers, etc.

Scannable Resumes
More and more companies are using scanning equipment to store resumes in databases. Resumes area searched for keywords before being selected for review. If your resume is not in scannable form, there is a chance it will be discarded. To avoid this, adhere to the following guidelines:

• No two-sided resumes
• Print in black ink on plain white paper- even a light off-white can reduce scannability.
• Format your resume as simply as possible:
Avoid columns
No fancy fonts, small fonts, underlining (avoid where possible) or italics
Use boldface for headings
Replace bullets with characters like dashes (-), carrots (>) or asterisks (*)
No graphics or symbols
Use a font between 10 and 14 points and don’t crowd the letters
• When you mail your resume, do not use staples and do not fold (when possible). Be sure to send an original rather than a copy. Scanning equipment often has difficulty with copies (the same goes with faxed versions, so try mailing the original, unless you have the capability of faxing directly from your computer.
• When sending your resume as an email, protocol differs by company. Sometimes hiring managers want the resume in the body of the email, others as an attachment. Unless instructed otherwise, send your resume as a Word attachment.
• Most resumes today are scanned into an electronic database. Keyword searches are then done by the recruiter, for example, choosing only resumes that contain the word “management”.
• If possible, do not fold your resume and cover letter, but rather send it in a stiff 9x12 envelope. This allows for more complete scanning.
• Be sure to send an original rather than a copy, because scanning equipment often has difficulty with scanned resumes.

Critique your resume

When you believe your resume is complete, ask yourself the following questions:

• Have I selected the most appropriate resume style for my background/career objective?
• Have I de-emphasized the interruptions in my career?
• Have I highlighted benefits for a potential employer and are my relevant qualifications obvious?
• Have I put the most important information near the top and left side of my resume?
• Have I stressed accomplishments rather than only job duties?
• Have I used natural and understandable language?
• Have I left off irrelevant personal information?
• Is my resume brief, to the point, and clear?
• Have I been consistent in my use of underlining or bold typeface, capitals, spacing and margins?
• Is my original copy clean, clear and of good contrast?
• Have I chosen high quality bond paper on which to reproduce my resume?


Resume #1 is an example of the Chronological resume. This most common of the resume types accounts for 90-95% of all business resumes used today.

[example #1]

Resume #2 is an example of the Functional/Combination resume. These tend to be used by people whose work histories are better showcased by listing their abilities rather than the more traditional list of job titles.

[example #2]


Additional Career Assessment Assistance

The Internet
The Internet is fast becoming the number one source for job search assistance. It is also full of site that will help you further define your next career move. Several good sites are:

www.monster.com Monsterboard is one of the oldest job search sites on the internet. A must for all job seekers. They also have a number of links to career assessment advice, testing, etc.
www.careermosaic.com In November 2000, they are merging with www.headhunter.net. as of this printing it is unknown what the new site name will be, but typing either of the above sites will bring you there.
www.hotjobs.com get job tips and benefits info. as well as a great site to search for jobs.
www.vault.com general job search site with a lot of good career information. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams’ favorite site (so says Vault.com). Has a book section where you can order from a number of solid career assistance books.
www.ajb.org this is the Department of Labor’s website. Not a very exciting site to look at, but more and more companies are starting to post their positions directly on the net, not in their local DOL office.
www.ama.org American Marketing Association site
www.marketingjobs.com job search site with links to career marketing information.
www.oracledba.net supposedly this is the only site on the Internet that is purely for DBA’s
www.operationit.com search jobs. Read articles from the IT industry.
www.shrm.org Society for Human Resources Management. Great articles and links even if you’re not a member.
www.astd.org American Society for Training and Development.
www.swe.com Society of Women Engineers
www.biospace.com biotech careers. This is a global site with a good career section. It is possible to search for jobs in specific companies. Articles that will help you keep up on the industry as well.
www.execunet.com for $100k plus executives. This is a paid site.
www.ittalent.com job hunting tips, search available jobs, research employers and training.
www.iccweb.com Internet Career Connections. A compilation of job information available on the web. Individuals post their business at this site. One focus of this site is career information and guidance, though they do have job listings.
www.wetfeet.com companies are divided by industry in the “company gallery.”
www.careerbuilder.com personal search agent where you select the parameters and they email appropriate jobs to you.
www.eriss.com this site provides job hunting tips, electronic resume posting as well as San Diego employer links.
www.dbm.com/jobguide the Riley Guide helps with on-line search tactics and good links.

The list is endless. But these are some good starting points. Make sure you also check out the local sites for your city, such as www.jobsinsandiego.com, www.sandiegojobs.com, www.seattlejobs.com, the local Yahoo page, etc.

Career Counselors

Department of Labor

The Library

As with Internet sites, there are an overwhelming number of books available on the job search process. Here are a number you may find interesting. For more, check with you librarian or on the Internet. Talk with your friends and family to see which ones they would recommend (remember, what works for them may or may not work for you).

What Color is Your Parachute?, Richard Bowles
The king of the category -- and still as vital in the 90s as it was in the 70s. Includes a lot of material related more to career counseling than selling yourself, but Bolles covers all the bases and does it very well. The classic dismissal of resumes as a way of finding work. [

The New Relocating Spouses Guide to Employment, Frances Bastress

Cover Letters That Will Get You the Job You Want by Stanley Wynett (1993). Wynett's a former advertising copywriter, and his letters have a flow and style that you won't find in most cover letter guides. Over 100 sample letters, with some excellent ideas scattered throughout that you could bring to your own letters

Sweaty Palms by H. Anthony Medley (1992). A perennial bestseller (first published in the 70s), and still very useful. Covers a wide range of topics from preparation to presentation to negotiation.

The Everything Get-A-Job Book, by Stephen Graber…gives you the competitive edge, with a fun and non-intimidating approach to looking for your first job or just plain trying to find a better job. Jammed with tons of tips, strategies, and advice from the trenches, this comprehensive book will be indispensable to anyone hoping to land a great job. Although we have not read this book the reviews on Vault.com are promising.

Researching the Job Market

Developing Your Job Search Tools

Having the right tools to perform an effective search makes all the difference in the world. This section will provide you with several of those tools.

1. Understanding the job market- How it is organized and what are the likely results from various job finding techniques- is essential in developing your job search strategies.
2. Researching- a crucial tool that helps you identify target companies, develop your approach and shine in the interview.
3. Developing your contacts and learning how to get information, advice and the right introductions that should lead to a job offer.

When you begin to put together your job search strategy, it is extremely important that you are open to all avenues of employment. Do not focus solely on the public or private sectors or only the biotech industry. For the most part, the same or very similar skill sets are required for jobs in most sectors. And remember, skills are transferable from one industry to the next. Many individuals are surprised to find a job well suited to their individual needs where they least expect to find one. If you explore ALL of your possibilities, you will open yourself up to greater opportunities.

1. Understanding the Job Market…

How to find out what’s out there

There are many sources available for finding a job. They tend to fall into two major categories.

Published Openings:
These openings have been “publicly declared.” They might be found in the newspaper, on-line, in company job posting lists.

Unpublished Openings:
These openings have not been advertised to the general public. Sometimes these openings may be nothing more than a vague intention, which is until a manager meets someone who triggers his or her interest. They can also be communicated by word of mouth or through networking. These can often be the best jobs, so you need to learn, or polish, the skills it takes to find them.

Locating Published Openings

The Internet
In today’s fast-paced world, this is an excellent place to find employment information. For industry research, current and future trends and employment statistics, try these sites.

• The US Bureau of Labor Statistics- www.bls.gov
• State Occupational Projections- www.udesc.state.ut.us/almis/stateproj
• State Occupational Information Coordinating Committee- www.noicc.gov
• The Wall Street Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly- www.nbbew.com
• Lexis Nexus provides, for a fee, an excellent source of industry information, as well as information written about a specific company but not by that company, leading to a more objective article.

When you are ready to research specific companies, agencies or organizations, it is essential to check out their websites. Every major company should have a website with information about their long-term goals and employment practices. If they don’t have one, or it seems poorly maintained, keep that in mind when making employment decisions.

In the previous section we listed a number of websites that can help you locate specific jobs, but they are also helpful for industry information, trends, links to company websites, etc.

The Classifieds

Keep in mind that many papers now offer their classified sections online.

Benefits of using the classifieds:
• Gives a good idea of the skills and experience required by a specific industry or position in that particular region of the country.
• Responding to these ads gives you practice with writing cover letters and marketing letters, as well as learning how to tailor your resume to specific companies and positions.
• Your response might lead to an interview.

Drawbacks of using the classifieds:
• Many of today’s jobs are no longer listed in the classified section of the newspaper, so you may be missing out on opportunities if this is your only source of position openings.
• There are usually a high number of applicants per job advertisement, which leads to a low rate of placement.
• Some organizations and placement agencies run ads strictly to collect resumes.

Search Firms and Temporary Agencies

There are many placement agencies in the US, and numerous specialize in particular field (a good handbook to take a look at is The Directory of Executive Recruiters). However, it is important to remember that it is not their aim to help you figure out what it is you want to do. To get the largest benefit of working with a recruiting firm, you must go to them with a clear picture of the type of position you are looking for.


Company and Industry Research

Once you have an idea of what the current job market has to offer, it is time to do research on the various industries and companies in which you may be interested. This section will give you some tips on how to proceed with this research. We will explain a number of tools and how to use them for the best results.

Research provides a crucial foundation for your entire job search process. Consider it to be the means by which you get answers to your career questions. Without this research to back up your candidacy for a specific position, you may appear vague, unmotivated or uninterested in the job you are being considered for. Those who do adequate research (and this does not mean you need to spend and exorbitant amount of time on it) will stand out from the rest of the applicants in a pool of candidates.


Reading Periodicals