Job Search Help

CDC will help you build your job search skills and teach you how to market and brand yourself for success. In addition, you will gain assistance in finding experience building skills like job shadowing, practice interviews, volunteering, and internships.

Get ready to search for jobs with resume and cover letter writing, interview prep, and more.

Research the Job Market

When it comes to choosing careers and majors, it's important to gather facts about career fields and occupations. Not only should a career fit your interests and personality, but you also need to determine other factors.

Questions to Ask Yourself While You Research

Education Requirements

  • Is a certificate or associate degree required for this career?
  • Will you need to eventually transfer and earn a bachelor's degree (or more)?

Salary

  • How much will this job pay? It will depend on your level of education and experience.

Physical Environment

  • Will you work outside all day?
  • Will you work with people or alone?

Skills and Abilities

  • Will you have the skills needed to do this job or will you need additional training?

Experience Level

  • Will you need to get additional experience before graduation?

Great Resources to Start Your Search

ONet

Use ONet to tap into information about occupational and career options. This resource can help you connect your interests, skills, and abilities to careers that have the same attributes. This resource also has salary and labor market information, which can be narrowed down by state and metropolitan area. You can also use your theme codes from the Strong Interest inventory to find potential careers of interest.

Career One Stop

Career InfoNet has great information on job search strategies, career tools for specific industries, and postings for jobs working for the Federal Government. The site also has great videos on over 500 different career options.

Colorado Wage & Labor Market

View labor market information specific geographic regions within Colorado at the Colorado Wage and Labor Market.

For nearly every job, internship, or volunteer opportunity, an employer will want you to submit your resume, along with a cover letter and references. Use this guide to help you start the process. If you need assistance in building a resume or writing a resume or would like have your current documents reviewed, come to see a career advisor during walk-in hours or call the CDC at 303.352.3306.

In addition, you’ll learn even more with tips on the importance of networking (2-page PDF) and following up with the employer after an interview (2-page PDF).

Build an Effective Resume

A resume is a document that highlights your skills, abilities, and experiences in order to entice an employer to contact you for an interview.

Some typical pieces of material on a resume may include:

  • Name and contact information (including phone number and email address)
  • Education (what colleges have you attended and what academic programs have completed or are you working on)
  • Work experience
  • Volunteer experience
  • Leadership experience
  • Student clubs or community organizations
  • Technical skills

Most people have enough experiences to fill a few pages, but not everything that you've done should be on a resume. Also, you should not send the same basic resume to every employer. Some tips for a resume include:

  • Customize it for each position and organization.
  • Keep your resume to one page (in most cases).
  • Try to avoid using a Microsoft (MS) Word resume template.
  • Highlight your skills and experiences that are the most relevant to the employer.
  • If applying for a federal government job, your resume and application will be slightly different. Please check out these tips for federal job applications (24-page PDF).

It is not recommended to use resume templates as found in MS Word. These worksheets should be used as guides to recreate your own resume using a blank MS Word document.

  • Chronological Resume
  • Limited Professional Experience
  • Skills-Based Version 1
  • Skills-Based Version 2
  • Technical Resume

Write an Effective Cover Letter

A cover letter is a persuasive document that introduces you to the employer and highlights why you'd be a good fit for a specific position. In nearly all cases, a cover letter should accompany every application and resume that you submit.

Cover letters are most effective when customized to each position for which you are submitting an application. If a specific position is not open, you can write a cover letter to a specific organization to inquire about the potential of filling a need.

  • Take the time to research the organization and connect your skills and experiences to the employer's needs and how you can contribute.
  • In your cover letter, address why you are interested in the organization or the specific position and use keywords from the job posting.
  • Rather than repeating topics on your resume, use your cover letter as an opportunity to draw the employer’s attention to a specific example of how you are qualified.
  • Remember, your cover letter is an opportunity to demonstrate your writing abilities as well, so pay attention to grammar and writing style.

To view sample cover letters, please consult the Career Guide.

Develop Quality References

Oftentimes, employers will ask for a list of references with your resume or cover letter. Other times, the employer will ask for a reference list after a job interview. An employer will want to verify that you are right for the job after your interview, so having quality references that can confirm your skills, experiences, and past performances are very important.

A reference is a person you have worked for or within the past who can verify and elaborate on your academic or professional experience for a potential employer.

The following are good examples of typical references:

  • Current or former supervisors (from a work or volunteer setting)
  • Current or former co-workers
  • CCD instructors
  • CCD advisors or case managers
  • Advisors from your student or community organizations

You may have people who know you well, but are not good examples of references because they have not worked with you in a primarily academic or professional setting:

  • Family members (parents, spouses/partners, aunts, and uncles, etc.)
  • Personal friends
  • Religious leaders (pastor, rabbi, etc.)

Looking back on your job and school career, you may have many potential references. However, it may not be appropriate to list all of them on a reference list for an employer.

In order to choose which references you should use, consider the following:

  • Which of my references know me the best in a work or volunteer setting?
  • Are the references I've listed going to have positive things to say about me?
  • Which references are the most closely related to the job I am seeking? For example, if you are applying for a Human Services job, you may choose a human services instructor at CCD over an English instructor simply because they are more closely related to your job search.

Prepare for an Interview

An interview is your opportunity to highlight why you are the best fit for the employer and how you can meet their needs. Additionally, it gives you the chance to evaluate the environment to determine if the position is what you would want. Preparation and practice are the keys to interview success! If you need additional tools or assistance on interviewing, contact the Career Development Center at 303.352.3306 to schedule a practice or Mock Interview. Here are some key steps that will ensure success in the interviewing process.

Before the Interview

  1. Research the employer to find out as much as you can about who they are, what they do, their mission, products or services, history, and recent company news.
  2. Understand the job description for the position you are being considered, who will be interviewing you, and the structure of the interview. Analyze your own strengths, accomplishments, and personal qualities that fit with the position description, and be prepared to give examples of how you have demonstrated those.
  3. Prepare questions for the employer.
    • Remember, you are also deciding whether the position and employer are a good fit for you.
    • Think of two or three questions that you would like to ask the employer. This gives you a chance to learn more about the employer, the position, or to display that you've done your research on the employer.
    • Employers will ask you if you have questions for them! They expect you to have several questions as they want to see if you are knowledgeable about the job and their industry. Research the company and ask good questions.
  4. Practice typical interview questions to help you prepare to present your best.

Typical Interview Questions

Have a friend practice with you or schedule a mock interview with a Career Advisor. Interviews are conducted in different formats, such as:

  • Phone Screening: brief interviews that allow employers to narrow down their applicant pool. Most time, the questions from these interviews come directly from the job description.
  • In-Person: A formal interview that can last from one (1) hour to an entire day. You may be meeting with just one person, but often times you will meet with several different groups and decision-makers.

A common type of interview is called “Behavior-Based Interviewing.” These questions allow you to provide specific examples of how you have demonstrated certain competencies in the past. The questions are open-ended, allowing you to speak at length about how you demonstrated the competency sought. An example of how a behavior-based interview question might begin is, “Tell me about a time when … ”.

Interview Day

Dress for success. For your interview, your personal style will have to be shelved or kept in the closet. While many companies have adopted the "office casual" dress code, don't try to set new standards in the interview. When in doubt, it is better to be too conservative than to be too flashy. For men and women, a suit is the best bet.

Here are some guidelines for dressing for the interview.

Men Women
Solid colors and tighter-woven fabrics are safer than bold prints or patterns A suit with a knee-length skirt or fitted trousers and a tailored blouse is most appropriate.
Bright ties bring focus to the face, but a simple pattern is best for interviews.
(A tip for larger men: Use a double Windsor knot to minimize a bulky appearance.)
Accessories should be kept simple.
Wear polished shoes with socks high enough to no skin is visible when you sit down and cross your legs. Basic pumps and modest jewelry and makeup help present a professional look.

Arrive on Time. Arrive at the interview location at least 10-15 minutes ahead of your scheduled time. This will help you reduce your stress level and you will ensure that traffic or any other delays don't make you late.

Bring Additional Materials. Bring along extra copies of your resume and any additional materials you may need, such as a list of references or portfolio of your work.

Be Emotionally Present. Be enthusiastic and friendly with all that you meet. Direct eye contact, a smile, and a handshake will be expected upon entering.

After the Interview

  • Be sure you know what the next step in the process will be and how you might follow up.
  • During the interview, ask for contact information so you can follow up promptly with a thank you note, either emailed or mailed or both.
  • After the interview, summarize why you are the best candidate for the position in a thank you note.
  • Your note can include additional information about why you are a good candidate and your interest in the position.
  • You may also call or email to check on the status of your candidacy if you have not heard from them within the timeframe discussed in the interview.