Plan A Job Search

Building Relationships

Studies have shown that 70-80% of employers hire people through individual outreach or employee referrals. That makes it critical to get to know people in the companies you are targeting. Find out if your family or friends know anyone at these companies or attend events at which the company has a presence.

Social Media

Using social media tools is a powerful way to build relationships by expanding networking opportunities and forming new connections.

Managing Social Media→
Employers are checking the social media accounts of prospective employees more than ever. Avoid these social media blunders to help you land your dream job.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Writing Resume Your cover letter and resume are often the first impression employers will make of you, so it is critical that both reflect the best you have to offer. A well constructed resume and compelling cover letter can make the difference between getting your foot in the door and being just another name in the pile. In fact, a poorly written resume or cover letter can take you out of the running completely. Take advantage of the many resume and cover letter writing resources available to ensure you are making the best first impression, and take a look at some of our own tips and pointers below to make your resume and cover letter the best it can be!


  1. Objective Statement – Many people these days like to include an “objective statement” at the top of their resume, but many experts are starting to advise against it as well. If you do want to include one, make sure it adds something to the resume. If your Objective Statement is “I want to work in IT” and you are applying for a job in IT, that does not help the employer. If, however, your Objective Statement is more along the lines of “I want to pursue a fulfilling career in the Healthcare IT industry using my strong computer networking and Java programming skills”, then you may have a case to include an objective statement. Be specific with what your objective is, and if you find that you don’t really know what your objective is, then ditch it.

  2. Length – Unless you feel your background really calls for more, limit your resume to one page. Employers don’t expect college students and recent graduates to have tons of professional experience, and therefore will be expecting one nice page. Fill up one page, making sure you are cognizant of the amount of “white space”, with your most relevant points of experience.

  3. Work History – Any work and compelling activities or volunteer experience should be put into strong bullet points, starting with a solid verb. You don’t need more than 3-5 bullets per position, but make sure the bullets accurately and fully describe what your tasks were, how you accomplished them, etc. When possible, try to align your past experience and bullets with the job or internship description you are applying for.

  4. Grammar – Double, triple, and quadruple check your grammar. Have your parents, grandparents, and cousins read over your resume before submitting it to any prospective employer, and then check again. There is no excuse for having spelling and grammatical errors on a resume.

  5. Best Experience First – A lot of students have very little relevant work experience, and that’s fine, but make sure your best experience is at the top of your resume. If you have only worked at generic fast food restaurants or grocery stores, that probably isn’t going to appeal to many IT or engineering companies, so put your education and some interesting classes at the top of your resume. If you taught yourself how to program, by all means make sure employers are seeing that. If you have some strong certificate, make sure that is highly visible. Don’t use a set order on your resume for no reason.

  6. Formatting is your Friend – Find a nice, clean resume template (generally staying away from those with extravagant designs) somewhere on the internet and insert your experience into it, changing around the order when you see fit. It’s very clear to employers when someone starts a resume from scratch, which is OK, but you can find nice templates out there that effectively use bold, bullets, indents, etc. effectively and help your resume look that much sharper. Take a look at some professional resume templates:

  7. Avoid opinions – It’s great to showcase what your interests and talents are, even if it has nothing to do with your work experience, but make sure it is adding something to your resume. We don’t need to know what church you go to, we don’t need to know that you think your school is the best, we don’t need to know that you have four siblings. Keep it professional.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a narrative, and focuses on why the skills, experience and education listed in your resume make you uniquely qualified for the position you are applying for. The cover letter should be specific to the job you are applying for and should not simply repeat the information already in your resume. Any time you apply for a different position, be sure to tailor your cover letter for that specific position and its job description. Often companies will provide specific instructions for what information should be included in a cover letter alongside a job description.

CareerOneStop →
Provides advice on creating new resumes and cover letters or updating your existing ones. →
Free sample resumes and tips.

How to Complete an Application

The job application is the gateway to an interview with a company. It is critical that your application present the best information possible in the most skillful way possible. Remember, the employer will likely be looking at how you answer the questions as closely as the actual answers. It is critical that your application is accurate, fully complete and neat. Filling out a practice application first may help you to formulate your answers and ensure a clean final version. Find tips at About Careers and eHow. Some tips to consider:

  • Read the instructions and the entire application carefully before you start to fill it out.
  • Write legibly, using a blue or black ink pen. If you have bad handwriting, consider typing your application.
  • Include only positive information on the application – but do not claim to have experience or skills that you do not possess.
  • If a question does not apply to you, indicate with a N/A or dash. Otherwise it may appear to the employer that you missed the question.
  • Allocate the most space on the job application to the most applicable and pertinent data.
  • Answer honestly, but do not share more than the question is asking.
  • Apply for a specific job(s). To indicate you would be interested in other jobs besides the one you are applying for, write the job title followed by (or similar position).

Job Interviewing

Go into every job interview prepared. Sites including CareerOneStop and Career Builder can help in your preparation need. Know some background on the company or business to which you are applying, including any recent announcements or mentions in the news, names of people in key leadership positions and any other relevant background. Also be prepared to answer questions about why you are applying and what you would contribute to the company or business. Always dress professionally, arrive on time and bring extra copies of your resume with you.

Create a Career Vision

What do you want to do? What skills do you have? What other skills might you need? This is especially important if you are looking to change professions or fields.

Career Exploration

If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, now is the time to explore different opportunities. Read books about careers; take interest inventories to find out how your interests intersect with various careers; talk to career counselors. Another great way to explore career options is through informational interviews. Job fairs and career events can also provide you with key information.

Visit Michigan's LMI Fast Facts for employment trends, wages, industries, and jobs in demand.

Employer Strategy

After you determine what it is you want to do, make a list of 30-50 companies that hire people to do what you want to do and are within commuting distance. If you have been laid off in one industry, see where other industries have overlap with the skills you already have. Or if you are looking for a career change, it will help you determine which skillsets you need to obtain through job training or internships. This information will help you target your job or career search and provide a starting point for setting up informational interviews.

LinkedIn is a professional networking tool that allows you to connect with past and present colleagues and classmates, as well as form new connections that can help you in your search for a new job or business opportunity.

This networking tool can help you find people with common interests. Use Twitter to help in your job search by following employers and job sites that post openings.

Get Out There

Join Job Clubs at your local Michigan Works! agency. There are more than 100 Michigan Works! locations in the state connecting job seekers with employers and providing career services. Attend networking and informational events. Look into programs like SHARE Network that bring together workforce development partners, faith-based organizations, community organizations, businesses and government agencies. Make business cards that summarize what you want to do. Volunteer, intern or job shadow with someone to get relevant experience.

Stay Positive

Most people experience a career transition at one time or another. Take advantage of resources and view this as a time to evaluate your skills and to find an opportunity that will be a wonderful fit.

Go to a Job Fair

Find Career Events across Michigan connecting Talent with Employers.

Find a Job Fair →

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