Career Services


Job Search

Throughout the job search you will be in constant contact with employers. You will be evaluated on your ability to present yourself. Before you are in a position to present to an employer your skills and strengths, you must first know them yourself.

Most often, who gets the job?

the most qualified     or     the best interviewee

With some assistance, you can be the best interviewee. It’s up to you to become the most qualified.

Job Search Process

Know Yourself:

  • Interests: What do you like to do?
  • Values: What’s important to you?
  • Skills: What can you offer an employer?
  • Preferences: What do you want your job to “look like”?


Sometimes a self-assessment exercise is helpful in determining your strengths and goals. The Career Services office offers the following assessments:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
  • DISCOVER (computerized guidance system)
  • Self-Directed Search (SDS)

Brainstorming As you are gathering information about yourself—what you can do, enjoy doing, and care about doing—it’s also helpful to take time out to brainstorm about where those interests might lead.

  1. Reflect on your childhood dreams and fantasies. What did you always want to be when you grew up?
  2. Scan the work classified ads in the Sunday edition of your major newspaper. Circle any ad that attracts you. Don’t worry about your qualifications at this point.
  3. Think about all the jobs performed by family, friends, relatives, neighbors—even people written about in newspaper articles or the characters on TV shows. Which ones appeal to you?
  4. Pretend you are helping a friend. Review the information you gathered about yourself. If this were your friend’s data, what would you suggest that she or he do?
  5. What do other people regularly compliment you about or tell you that you do well? If you can’t think off- hand, call up ten friends and ask them to tell you now.
  6. If you haven’t done so already, review the Dictionary of Holland Occupations Codes. Which job titles that match your RIASEC code appeal to you?

From Starting Out, Starting Over: Finding the Work That’s Waiting for You, L. Peterson, Davies-Black Publishing, 1995

How do I decide what I really want to do?

Ask yourself:

  • What short-term goals would I like to accomplish?
  • What do I like to do most? What am I most interested in? What am I best at?
  • What are my long-term goals?
  • Where would I like to live? Am I willing to relocate?
  • What are my work preferences? (Working alone or with others? Following directions or directing others? Doing mental or physical work?)
  • What environment would I like to work in? ( In an office? Outdoors?)
  • What are my financial goals?

Liberal Arts Skills

Liberal arts skills are transferrable, functional abilities that are required in many different problem-solving and task-oriented situations. Through classes and co-curricular activities, students have had the opportunity to develop a number of these skills. Go through the list and think about which of these skills are strengths of yours. Think back to how you have gained these skills. Through which experiences did you develop the skills you have chosen? These are experiences to add to your resume.

Information management skills: ability to...

  • Sort data and objects
  • Compile and rank information
  • Apply information creatively to specific problems or tasks
  • Synthesize facts, concepts, and principles
  • Understand and use organizing principles
  • Evaluate information against appropriate standards

Valuing skills: ability to...

  • Assess a course of action in terms of long- range effects on the general human welfare
  • Make decisions that will maximize both individual and collective good
  • Appreciate the contributions of art, literature, science, and technology to contemporary society
  • Identify one’s own values
  • Assess one’s values in relation to important life decisions

Human relations/interpersonal skills: ability to...

  • Keep a group “on track” and moving toward the achievement of common goals
  • Maintain group cooperation and support
  • Delegate tasks and responsibility
  • Interact effectively with peers, superiors, and subordinates
  • Express one’s feelings appropriately
  • Understand the feelings of others
  • Use argumentation techniques to persuade others
  • Make commitments to people
  • Be willing to take risks
  • Teach a skill, concept, or principle to others
  • Analyze behavior of self and others in group situations
  • Demonstrate effective social behavior in a variety of settings and under different circumstances
  • Work under time and environmental pressures

Design and planning skills: ability to...

  • Identify alternative courses of action
  • Set realistic goals
  • Follow through with a plan or decision
  • Manage time effectively
  • Predict future trends and patterns
  • Accommodate multiple demands for commitment of time, energy, and resources
  • Assess needs
  • Make and keep a schedule
  • Set priorities

Critical thinking skills: ability to...

  • Identify quickly and accurately the critical issues when making a decision or solving a problem
  • Identify a general principle that explains interrelated experience or factual data
  • Define the parameters of a problem
  • Identify reasonable criteria for assessing the value or appropriateness of an action or behavior
  • Adapt one’s concepts and behavior to changing conventions and norms
  • Apply appropriate criteria to strategies and action plans
  • Take given premises and reason to their conclusion
  • Create innovative solutions to complex problems
  • Analyze the interrelationships of events and ideas from several perspectives

Management/administration skills: ability to...

  • Analyze tasks
  • Identify people who can contribute to the solution of a problem or task
  • Identify resource materials useful in the solution of a problem
  • Delegate responsibility for completion of a task
  • Motivate and lead people
  • Organize people and tasks to achieve specific goals

Communication skills: ability to...

  • Listen with objectivity and paraphrase the content of a message
  • Use various forms and styles of written communication
  • Speak effectively to individuals and groups
  • Use media formats to present ideas imaginatively
  • Express one’s needs, wants, opinions, and preferences without offending the sensitivities of others
  • Identify and communicate value judgments effectively
  • Describe objects or events with a minimum of factual errors
  • Convey a positive self-image to others

Research and investigation skills: ability to...

  • Use a variety of sources of information
  • Apply a variety of methods to test the validity of data
  • Identify problems and needs
  • Design an experiment, plan, or model that systematically defines a problem
  • Identify information sources appropriate to special needs or problems
  • Formulate questions relevant to clarifying a particular problem, topic, or issue

Personal/career development skills: ability to...

  • Analyze and learn from life experiences, both one’s own and others’
  • Relate skills developed in one’s environment
  • Match knowledge about own characteristics and abilities to information about job or career opportunities
  • Identify, describe, and assess the relative importance of one’s needs, values, interests, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Develop motivating personal growth goals
  • Identify and describe skills acquired through formal education and general life experience
  • Accept and learn from constructive criticism
  • Persist with projects when faced with failure but be able to recognize when the project cannot be carried out or is not worth the time or effort required to complete it
  • Generate trust and confidence in others
  • Take risks
  • Accept the consequences of one’s actions
  • Market oneself to prospective employers

Perfect your Job Search Materials

Additional handouts and quick cards for reference:

  • Resume and cover letter writing
  • Functional resume and cover letter writing
  • References
  • Networking
  • Researching the Company
  • Interviewing

Thank you letters

  • It is important to write thank you letters to each organization with whom you have interviewed. If possible, send a thank you note to each person within the organization as well. This added touch may make the difference between you and an equally qualified candidate. Some rules for writing thank you notes follow:
  • You may type a thank you letter using letterhead. Letterhead can be a simple header at the top of a printed page. It may even match the header you have on your resume. Do not hand write a thank you letter using your letterhead.
  • You may hand write a thank you note using nice notecards. Notecards can be blank or they can state “thank you” on them. Choose tasteful notes. Try to send non-gender-specific notecards. Do not type a thank you note using your notecards.
  • Thank you notes should be sent out as soon as possible. Within 24 hours is best; within a week’s time is acceptable.
  • Send each thank you note separately. To remember each person’s name and title, ask for a business card when you are being introduced to each person. You may also be able to locate full names via web pages.
  • Thank you notes should be seen as another step in the job search process. Many job seekers neglect this important gesture.

Identify Sources for Position Openings

Where to begin?

  • Career Services Website 
    This is a good springboard to career sites by general, field, and region. Also includes Job Openings Bulletin that is updated weekly with local and nationwide jobs. Hard copies of job openings can also be found in the Career Services office.
  • ICoRN  
    Clarke University is a member of the Iowa College Recruiting Network (ICoRN) which allows students to register for INTERVIEW DAYS attracting many well-known companies with excellent job opportunities.
  • Newspapers

    Studies show that only 15% of open positions are advertised in newspapers. With the explosion of the world wide web, the Internet is generally the first place to look for a job. Many newspapers now maintain websites dedicated to position opening in their reach. If you are relocating to a particular area, conduct a search on the Internet for newspapers in your targeted area. Chances are, you’ll find a great website.
  • Networking
    • Friends of relatives and relatives of friends. Keep these people in mind. For additional information, click here.
  • Professional Associations
    • Many professional associations compile job listings for their particular fields. These may be distributed via a newsletter or web site. There may be a fee to receive membership privileges which may include a job bulletin. Not only is this a good resource for locating positions, but it also is helpful to belong to at least one professional association. Your membership can be listed on your resume and you will have access to professional development material that will serve you well as you continue to succeed.

Set Goals and Time Commitments

  • Finding a job is a full-time job
  • Set weekly goals for working on job search a set number of hours
  • Each week commit to: 
    • Sending out ___ “cold letters”
    • Responding to ___ openings
    • Contacting ___ potential employers

Hearing from Employers

  • AA/EOE Letters 
    • These are sent to every applicant according to each company’s policy. This simply tells you that they have received your information.
  • Letters of rejection 
    • Letters may be sent to tell you that you have made a cut or of their timeline.
    • Letters are also the most popular way of letting an applicant know she did not get an interview or the job.
    • When you receive a rejection letter, make a note of it then THROW IT AWAY. Do not keep it to read and re-read. Positive thoughts are all that are needed throughout the job search process.
    • Rarely is a person contacted about an interview via the mail.
  • Calls for interviews 
    • Be sure to change your answering machine or voicemail message to reflect a professional job seeker.
    • If you have roommates, sit down and teach them how to take an effective message.
  • The Interview!! 
    • Additional information can be found in the handout on Interviewing.

10 Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make

  1. Don’t know what they want to do
  2. Don’t take the initiative
  3. Too few prospects
  4. Not viewing employment from employer’s perspective
  5. Being too direct
  6. Not targeting correct organizations
  7. Approaching prospects impersonally
  8. Having an unfocused resume
  9. Overlooking selling points
  10. Not following through
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