Resources for Job Seekers
The JFC Staffing Companies have been assisting employers and talented individuals throughout Central Pennsylvania - and beyond, connect with one another since 1975. JFC has perfected the art of employment -- for both employees and employers. Let the JFC Staffing Companies assist you in finding your next job while advancing your career.
Below is an easy to follow step-by-step guide on the process of getting ready to find a job, and applying for that perfect job.
Getting Ready to Start Your Job Search
Know Your Audience. What is the employer looking for?
This is one of the primary questions raised by job hunters. In the age of technology, this kind of research is becoming easier. Employers know how easy it is for candidates to learn about their organization and product/service lines; therefore, they expect this kind of preparation from every candidate. With information so accessible, there is no excuse for poor research.
Top Qualities Employers Seek
- Communication Skills - both written and verbal
- Teamwork Skills
- Interpersonal Skills
- Strong Work Ethic
- Analytical Skills
- Computer Skills
- Interpersonal Skills
- Leadership Skills
Employers say they are most impressed by candidates who have excellent communication skills, and relevant work experience. They are also looking for potential employees who can get along with their co-workers, are trustworthy, and get the job done without being watched at every step.
Building Your Network of References
References Will Matter
It is never too early to begin developing a network of qualified references that can validate your skills and experience levels. In order to be prepared, have this information ready for any interaction with a potential employer. According to a survey done by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 80% of employers conduct reference checks on all candidates. Information typically requested includes: dates of employment, eligibility for rehire, salary history, employability, and an assessment of teamwork skills, level of communication skills, and an evaluation of how the reference feels you would fit with the proposed position. Employers may also look to verify any education or certifications that are listed on your application/resume.
Who can I use as a reference?
Usually, employers check a minimum of three references. Be sure your references are responsive people, can verify your skills, attest to your personal strengths, and provide information regarding your education and/or employment history. Not every reference has to address every area; however, be sure you provide contacts who can jointly answer each question.
References do not need to be limited to employers or supervisors. Co-workers, instructors, business acquaintances, customers, professionals who work in the field or industry you are hoping to enter, or leaders of volunteer organizations you have joined are all acceptable references. Refrain from using family members or clergy -- they are not seen as "objective."
Can I coach my references?
It is a good idea to acquaint your references with your goals and background. Inform each reference of the skills and traits you plan to emphasize during your career search. Above all else, always tell your references to be honest and thank them for their time and effort.
Writing Your Resume
There are many resources available on the web to help you write a resume. In order for your resume to be correctly formatted and professional, we recommend that you utilize a resume template. These can be easily found online, and numerous sites also offer cover letter templates. Following are a few sites that provide these templates:
Your Resume should include the following items:
An objective can be as simple as explaining the job title you're seeking, or detailed enough to include what skills or experience qualifies you for the position. Keep it to one or two sentences.
Concentrate on your responsibilities and achievements. Do not include the reasons for leaving prior jobs or your entire job description. Only include recent jobs. If there are any gaps in your employment history, be sure they are easily explainable. If your employment history contains gaps or is brief, include volunteer work. Try to keep this to no more than six sentences. Use a reverse chronological format. In other words, your most recent experience should be listed first.
Do not list the year you graduated high school. Unless you are a recent graduate without much job experience, high school is not important. Post secondary education is very important to list. List any relevant training, seminars, and coursework that may pertain to the work you are seeking.
Other skills section
Include additional languages, computing skills, and club/society memberships. Also, list any other relevant skills that will interest an employer.
Your resume should be in a universal format such as Microsoft Word. It will be crucially important for you to have your resume proofread. Use spell check in Word, and then ask a 3rd party who has a strong grasp on proper grammar, spelling and punctuation for their opinion. No matter what job you are looking for, your resume has to put your best foot forward.
Common Errors in Resume Writing
- Not following the general rules of proper grammar, correct spelling, and accurate punctuation.
- Not maintaining a clean, clear, and visually pleasing presentation.
- Not understanding the legal impact of certain information.
- Not providing a good, laser quality print on professional paper stock.
- Not stating anything other than the obvious.
- Not providing any insight into your personality, goals, or uniqueness.
- Not selling your strengths.
- Not providing any support to help your resume stand out during the screening process. See the reference documents regarding Cover Letters and Building your Network.
- Use standard margins
- Establish balanced white space and text
- Strive for consistency and uniformity
- Use legible fonts (especially for bolded or italicized areas)
Cover Letter Tips
Six Things You Must Do in Your Cover Letter
- Focus on the needs of the employer. How you would solve their problem and contribute to the bottom line?
- Display knowledge of the hiring company. When appropriate, drop one or two facts/names into your cover letter that show an interviewer you have done your homework on the company.
- Briefly state your best qualifications and achievements, but don't spend a lot of time repeating the content of your resume.
- Show enthusiasm about the job that you want.
- State that you will follow up to schedule an interview. Remember, the interview is the goal of your cover letter and resume.
- Keep your letter short and focused. Limit yourself to four short paragraphs.
Cover Letters Count
No resume should ever stand alone. Send a cover letter with every resume unless a posting or advertisement specifically instructs you not to. Remember, when emailing a resume as an attachment or pasting it to an employers' website, the text that you include should function (and be as dynamic) as a cover letter.
Some comments from top employers:
- "A cover letter should always accompany a resume. It should be tailored to the specific job the person is looking for. Job seekers should be specific in their cover letters by relating experiences or results in their past to the qualities the hiring company is looking for."
- "New graduates should relate their accomplishments gained from a cooperative education experience, volunteer work, or course project experiences. They should make connections between those experiences and the hiring objective of the employer. But, do not overstate and remain truthful!"
- "The term 'cover' letter is a misnomer. They are equally important as the resume. If the cover letter does not grab attention and show relevance, why should I, the employer, waste time on the resume?"
- "We review 25,000 applications a year and see good cover letters 1 percent of the time. When we find a good letter, we pass it around the office because it's such a rarity."
- "People should talk to me in the letters, not in an overly casual manner, but in a conversational tone. I don't want another dry business letter to read."
- "Cover letters should be crafted to be interesting, concise, and relevant - above all else, relevant."
- "We use the letter, not the resume, as the best indicator of an applicant's written communication skills and the quality of work they can produce."
- "I look for letters to contain customization because I want to see that the person has researched our company, knows what we produce, and can connect with our mission."
- In a recent survey of 150 executives from the top 1,000 U.S. companies, 60% said that when they screen applications, the cover letter was equally important, or more important, than the resume.