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Getting That Job


When you pay a personal visit to any potential employer, it is very important to make a good first impression. Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind when you meet a potential employer either to get information, to fill out an application or for an interview.

  • Introduce yourself with a smile
  • Dress appropriately
  • Make eye contact
  • Put your hand out for a firm handshake
  • Remember to use the employer’s name
  • Express your strengths in a clear and confident voice
  • Show your enthusiasm by standing tall
  • Say you really want to work for the company
  • Have your application information handy in case you need to fill out an application
  • Offer your resume if you have one
  • Thank the employer for their time

Completing Applications 

Dress conservatively when picking up an application. Dressing nicely shows that you care about making a good first impression and it shows that you want the job. Wait to ask for an application when the person is not busy or helping customers. Be prepared with a pen and all the information you would need to fill out the application on the spot.

Read the entire application before you begin. Pay close attention to what is being asked and how to you are expected to respond. Pay attention to things like “Do Not Write Below This Line” or Office Use Only.”

The application should be neat, with no errors in grammar or spelling. You should print your responses with black ink and try not to use any abbreviations. It is also very important that you respond to all questions.

If a question does not apply to you then write in N/A (not applicable) that way the employer knows that you have read the question but it does not apply to you.

Be Honest and Positive 

It is important to be truthful on an application. The information you provide will become a permanent part of your employment record when you get hired. False information may lead to you being fired.

Do your best to present a positive and honest picture of yourself and your work history. If you have had a spotty work history or difficulties in the past offer honest explanations, but don't offer more information than necessary. For instance, if you've recently quit a job, offer an appropriate explanation, such as:

  • Relocated
  • Temporary work
  • Seasonal
  • Job ended
  • Family needed me
  • Needed to devote more time to school
  • I preferred a better working environment
  • Desired a more challenging position

Sell Your Strengths 

Many applications have limited space for you to write in yours skills, experiences, or accomplishments. Display qualifications that meet the specifics of the job. If there is a section that asks for other experiences or skills be sure and complete it. Think about all the things you’ve learned in school or through community involvement.

Position Desired 

Never leave this question blank or reply “Any” or “Open.” If the job is an advertised job or you are looking for a specific position, enter the job title you want. If you do not know the job title, identify the department in which you want to work.

Wages Desired 

When asked on the application about wages or pay, put “starting wage” if you have little or no prior job experience. If you have had a job, put the pay that you earned at your last job. It also works to give a salary range instead of a specific dollar amount. You can also respond with “negotiable” or “open”


References are an important part of your job search, so choose them carefully. There are a few kinds of references that you could use:

  • Employment references are former employers or direct supervisors.
  • Academic references are teachers or others who can talk about your school accomplishments.
  • Personal references are people who only know you socially – like a family friend.

Be sure that any reference you use are people who will say positive things about your work skills and who you are as a person. Also, be sure to get their permission to use them as a reference.

Dropping off the Application 

Be sure to sign the application and take it back to the employer, following the same dress code you did when you picked up the application. Be prepared to interview because the employer may want to talk with you right away.

Try to drop the application off with the manager or a supervisor. They are the ones making the decisions and they are the ones to impress – it also helps to put a face to a name.


Much has been said and written about effective resumes. The most important thing to remember is that a resume like a sales brochure. It helps sell your skills to an employer. Here an easy way to remember the elements of a good resume:

  • Review of qualifications
  • Essential information only
  • Skills based
  • Unique - what makes you special
  • Marketing of a product – You
  • Effective - gets you noticed

Select this link for more detailed information on how to prepare a resume.


Before an interview, try to find out as much about the company as you can. Learn about how big it is, the products it makes, and its customers. This shows the interviewer that you have more than passing interest. Get your information online, in the library, or by talking with people who are already working at the company.

Always arrive at the interview a few minutes early. Come prepared with a pen, notebook, resume, references, letters of recommendation and completed application (unless you’ve already submitted it).

When you enter the place of business, introduce yourself and say that you are there for an interview. If you know who it is that will be interviewing you, ask for that person by name. When the interviewer approaches you:

  • Smile and make eye contact
  • Introduce yourself and what position you are applying for
  • Shake hands firmly
  • Wait for an invitation to follow them and to sit down

During an interview you will be asked many questions, all of which are designed to help a potential employer decide if you are the right candidate for the job. It helps if you practice answering some of the most common questions a few days before you have your interview.

Learn more about job interviewing techniques.

Follow up 

Be sure to send a thank you letter to each person who interviewed you. This can be a typed or hand written note and it should be sent no later than 24 hours after the interview.

Here are the basic parts of a thank you note:

  • Statement of appreciation
  • Expressions of interest in the job
  • Brief restatement of qualifications and skills
  • An opportunity to add additional information you failed to mention
  • Final "thank you"
  • Date and time you will follow up

If you don’t hear from the interviewer by the end of the estimated time period, call and ask if a decision had been made. Restate once again that you are interested in the job. Listen to what they have to say and follow up again if you have to.

Remember to always be polite – even if you didn’t get the job. You never know – maybe the person they hire doesn’t work out, or maybe they will need you in the future.

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