Career Toolkit for Students and Jobseekers

Career ToolkitEvery job requires tools. This article will focus on helping you build your business or professional profile and fill your toolbox with the tools that you need for your search in today's job market.

I should also preface this with a stern call to action – do your networking on-line AND off-line! The shift towards on-line recruiting and hirings doesn't mean that you should sit behind your computer for eight hours a day and think that's enough. Face-to-face networking, balanced with online efforts, can only help your chances of finding a job and will build relationships that will serve you well over your entire career. Get out there, shake hands and deliver your pitch face-to-face as this is still the most powerful way to make a good impression.

New tools to help find jobs or career opportunities

A self assessment is a simple evaluation that you can do of yourself to get a better understanding of your needs, competencies and weaknesses. You can do this by looking at your actions and productivity and trying to rank your effectiveness of work related performance.

This self-perspective is also valued as part of an evaluation process and is a key ingredient in the 360 degree assessment movement where feedback is provided by you, subordinates/peers, and managers as opposed to just a boss. The multiple perspectives allow for a more well-rounded overall assessment. You may come across assessment tools in the form of surveys or recommendations on some professional networking websites.

When it comes to communication, remember to always keep it professional. At one point in time as a hiring manager, I used to filter out internship requests solely based on the professionalism of candidates' email addresses as a first criterion. If someone had anything remotely strange or inappropriate, I never even got to their qualifications. While I am not proud of this approach, it was an easy way to exclude about half the candidates who I felt should have taken the two minutes to set up an appropriate email.

Make sure that you have at least one email account that is professional and for job searching. This way all communications can be referenced in one inbox and managed more easily.

Good –

Bad –

As they say, seeing is believing. This principle is at the core of why we should all be building our portfolios as early as possible in our careers. Pre-computers, portfolios took the form of large binder-type folders with pictures of original works or samples of work. The digital era has enabled us to build on-line portfolios and use technologies to showcase ourselves whether we are accountants, teachers, interior designers or chefs.

Real examples of your work communicate the quality of your efforts as well as demonstrating your passion and commitment to your profession. You can also include certifications, awards and any other documents you feel are important in telling your professional story. A digital portfolio can stand on its own as a website or blog but can also be easily integrated into your professional profile on many leading networking sites.

Resume…and now Video Resume and Business Profile!

A resume is a document that contains personal information and a summary of relevant job experience, education and training for job search or career advancement purposes. You may want to consider more than one version of your resume if you are applying for different positions in a range of industries. As a sales tool, it should generate interest in your reader quickly and deliver the required information. Take advantage of the many free samples on-line if you need presentation ideas.

An important first section to a resume is the often overlooked Objective Statement. I believe strongly in the value of this in demonstrating the job searcher's focus and ability to articulate their wants. It is often the first part of the resume that is read so it's a significant part of the first impression formed about you.

All your relevant personal information and career related content can be organized and displayed on-line to a standard relating to your profession or career. A business profile is the summary of all this information along with any other career related content that you've uploaded for display. Think of it as an interactive rich media premium resume.

Cover letters are used for personalizing an application and provide a platform for you to really sell yourself to the reader. This can be a powerful component to getting an interview which is one of your basic objectives in your job search.

Manage your search until you find a job

A management tool is a critical part of your toolkit that many people ignore because they feel it is not necessary or that they can use their email Sent box as an effective way to stay on top of job applications and relevant communications. The reasons for managing your job search include:

  • having a time-line so that you know when to follow up on a submission
  • ensuring you don't apply to the same position five different times
  • monitoring trends of the kinds of positions that you like or the companies that seem to be doing the most hiring in the industries that you are interested in

Additionally, your ability to self-manage is now a highly sought after skill by many employers. You are building your skill set in this regard. This should give you confidence in what can be a frustrating and timely pursuit – finding that elusive dream job.

I use a simple spreadsheet that allows me to track my actions, record employer or company names and add links so that I can quickly reference the company or job opportunity should I need to. I often copy/paste summary details into the job postings column and manage hundreds of postings at a time. You can also leave comments and tasks for yourself to keep things moving forward at all times.