Tag Archives: Career

10-Point CheckList – What to do BEFORE You Apply for the Job

“You Must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be.” -David Viscott

Although it’s tempting to dive right into the job application process, I highly recommend building a solid job seeking foundation first. This will position you to be far more organized, focused, and successful in getting what you want.  

I recently wrote a blog post for the University of Oregon’s Career Service Center (Portland office) with suggestions on what to do before you start applying for jobs. Here is an expanded version with a few more suggestions.

1. Career Coach / Counseling

If you are finding yourself totally lost on where to start with the job search journey, seek out a career coach or career counseling center at a university. Most (if not all) schools have some sort of career advising. Career websites are a fantastic place to start. Try University of Oregon or Portland State University to launch your search.

If you graduated from a university, or attending one, take full advantage of the career counselors. You might as well, you pay for their services in your tuition fees. Even if you feel like you have everything figured out (like I did my first time around), I really encourage you to go for one visit. I can almost guarantee the person you talk with will provide some sort of insight into job seeking tactics you hadn’t considered.

Career coaches often offer a free consultation and different packages to fit your budget. Maybe seeing  someone just once or twice will be the push you need to get going in the right direction. I recently found Vicki Lind, a Portland based career coach. She offers free introductory workshops on how to craft yourself (those useful elevator pitches), the first Friday of every month. I recently attended her workshop with seven other people, and it was really helpful. Not only did it FORCE me to practice my message, but I learned a lot of great tips – all in a comfortable safe setting with fellow job seekers.

I have recently been acquainted with  EcoGrrl Consulting. Aimee is a local Portlander and has been in the recruiting world for years. She is well connected, offers a variety of services and comes well recommended-check out her LinkedIn profile too! 

[If you have a favorite career coach, or career counseling service, please add them to the comment section below- I would love to provide more resources, thanks!] 

2. Figure out what you really want from a job

Begin thinking about what’s most important to you. Are you wanting a position that offers flexibility in hours and days? Maybe office location is important because you hope to bike or take public transportation to work. Is it important that the company’s mission statement aligns with your beliefs? Perhaps salary or potential for promotion is most important to you.

Knowing the answers to these, and making a list of priorities can help you weed through the job postings. At a recent Women’s Roundtable event, I learned knowing your priorities is also helpful during salary revues.

3. Make Yourself Accountable

Upon embarking on my second attempt job search, I wrote a blog post letting everyone know that the long hiatus was finally over. I was ready to try again at finding my first career position. I did this to explain my online absence for the previous year, and share my story; but mostly, I wanted to make myself accountable. Tell your friends and family your goals and intentions, this way they can help rally behind you through the process, and keep you accountable.

4. Brainstorm

Take a few days to brainstorm tactics you plan to apply to the job search, and design a way to keep track of your ideas. I am a huge advocate for lists, so I created several of them to help me flesh out everything I think of. This really helps me stay organized and ensures no possibility goes unexplored. Some of my categories include:

1. People to contact for informational interviews                                    2. Organizations I may enjoy working for                                                 3. Online items that need attention ( blog, LinkedIn etc.)                       4. People I can contact for references                                                          5. Job posting locations (job boards, career service sites etc.)

5. All Things Positive 


You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.”  

-Deepak Chopra

There is no better time than now to surround yourself with positivity. When I started my job hunt, I went to the library and simply browsed the “self-help” section, picking out a dozen different books on finding your true self, and maintaining a positive spirit. These books helped me get in touch with what I really want from my potential career, and continue to provide me with inspiration.

Figure out what makes you feel great, motivated, and uplifted. Maybe a favorite comedian that makes you laugh, or a favorite painting that evokes a sense of peace – surround yourself with these things before you dive into the job search world (and as you travel through the journey). This includes surrounding yourself with positive people and places too!

I always have a favorite quote on my mirror or refrigerator reminding me to keep at it, and stay positive. Here are a few examples:

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.”          – Helen Keller

Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base                      and keep your foot on first.”    – Frederick B. Wilcox

The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” -Anonymous

6. Make a plan and set goals

Before I dove into anything, I took a week to come up with a master plan. Tackling the gigantic “to-do” list without order is overwhelming and leads to inefficiency. My plan included what I needed to do in the first couple of weeks (laying the foundation), and what my weekly goals would be from there.

7. Look Your Best

Money is most likely a little tight during the job search, and I certainly advocate budgeting and being mindful of spending, but now is the time to look your best. When I graduated college, my grandmother gave me money and said, “I want you to buy a nice suit for your interviews, and get your hair done.” This is certainly sage advice. Not only do we need to look great making those first impressions, but looking nice boosts our confidence significantly- which goes a long way in those interviews! 

I always honor inner beauty first and foremost, but most of us enjoy a little something that adds spunk to our walk, and that’s okay too. Maybe it’s getting your nails done, purchasing new dress shoes, or a new tie, whatever your thing is – know you deserve to look your best! Spend a little bit of money, and rest assured it’s a secure investment.

Nothing shouts “powerhouse” like a strut of confidence. And you don’t need to spend a lot of money. I bought one of my favorite interview outfits at the Goodwill. (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)  Sometimes salons offer free hair styling for interviews (if you are a client of course). Ask your hair dresser if he or she offers something similar.

8. Clean up your online presence

Make sure your online presence is in tip-top shape before you send out a single resume. (More online presence info to come in a future post.)

9. Affirmations

“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.”

-Tom Blandi                                                         

It’s easy to get discouraged during any endeavor, so it’s imperative you begin with a positive attitude. That doesn’t mean you won’t get down from time to time, we are all human, but it’s much easier to pick yourself back up if you start with a positive frame of mind.

I love having positive affirmations written down that I can turn to. Try reading a few out loud before you go to bed, or when you first get up in the morning, or if you feel yourself struggling through the day or week to accomplish your goals. Here are some I really like:

I have confidence in myself.                                                                          I am skilled and talented.                                                                              I will make an excellent addition to any organization or business.      I make a difference whenever I can.

This site has some great examples, find something that works for you!

10. Make it happen!

I’m a big believer in the power of our thoughts and the ability to manifest what we desire into our lives (hence the positive affirmations above).  After you figure out what you are really wanting in a career, write it down, look at it every day, tape it to your bathroom mirror or other visible space. Don’t limit yourself to anything at this stage, I say dream big. You may not manifest everything you want in that first job, but over the years, you will be amazed how you have the power to mold your life to the shape you most desire. 

Finding a job may not be easy, but believing in yourself and setting a solid foundation to launch the job search from, will make the process a lot more fun, and being successful far more likely.

What are some foundational steps that you apply when embarking on a new journey or challenge, please share below!

Image Sources In Order of Appearance:     #1        #2        #3      #4     #5       #6

The Long Hiatus is Finally Over!

I haven’t written in more than a year, and I’m back! In my final year as a student at the University of Oregon, I wrapped up the two degrees I was working on, took on way too many internships trying to beef up that resume, and worked two jobs, all while raising my daughter as a single parent! Whew, no wonder I was burnt out! I had been working on my higher education the past 7 years (I’m one of those students), and frankly, I was tired when I graduated. I had big plans of moving to Portland, knowing all my dreams would fall into place just perfectly with little effort, well that didn’t “exactly” happen.

IMG_5963-My Daughter Hadlie and I – Willamette River Waterfront – Downtown Portland-

For several months I looked for work. In all those resumes and cover letters I sent out, I landed only two phone interviews, not making it to the next round with either one.

My hopeful, positive spirit, slowly got crushed as the weeks and months passed, with my dream job (or any job), simply not coming to fruition. I was in a tough place, 2011 was the middle of the recession and most people experienced some rough economic times. Jobs simply weren’t easy to come by (still aren’t). With every rejection letter, the employer would let me know I was a strong candidate for the position, but they received more than 200 applications. Being a recent graduate, I just couldn’t compete with years of experience other candidates had. I did FIVE internships in my senior year alone, I thought my resume would look great.

Alas, after five months of continual despair, and becoming incredibly discouraged, (it was supposed to be so easy), I bit the bullet and did the one thing I promised myself I would never do again, I blanketed the service industry with my resume. Yes, I would get a serving position. I was going broke following my career dreams, and I had to be realistic and pay the bills. Waiting tables is quick money, so it’s  easy to fall back on, and I had years of experience.

I was grateful to get a waitressing job fairly quickly at the Nite Hawk Diner in North Portland, just in time for Christmas! I worked this job for all of 2012. The plan was to work part time, and continue finding a career on the side. This happened some, but to be honest, I was burnt out on finding work. Waitressing for a year was kind of a nice break, so I took it.

As the months passed however, I found myself becoming more and more apathetic, and lacking  motivation. I recognized I was in a rut, so I made a rash decision to take a leave of absence from my job, and travel to Hawaii over the recent winter break.

This was the best thing for me! I returned refreshed, rejuvenated, motivated, encouraged, and passionate once again! I’ve been taking note of all the things I should have done in my job search before, and I will simply have to try harder this time around!IMG_6359

I loved my customers at the diner, and it was great to work for a small family business, they treated me well. What that sort of job will never provide me however, is a sense of purpose. There are far too many issues in this world that I care strongly about, and I have far too much passion in my heart to sit idly by, I want to be proud of what I’m doing! When I die, I want to be able to look back and think, yes I did all I could to make this world a little better.

I want my time, and energy put forth helping to solve the problems that I’m concerned about, and frankly, I don’t think my huge heart and multitude of talents should be wasted on performing work that I don’t fully enjoy, I want more!

So, I’m entering 2013 with a fresh outlook, positive attitude, and a fighting spirit. I’m taking measures to meet new people in the fields I’m interested in, researching more, getting my name out there; so eventually, businesses and organizations will be coming to me offering me positions! (Well, I may as well dream big).

I’m starting with my online presence. It’s essential these days, and I vow to be involved more.  I will be adding blog posts regularly, entering the twitter world daily, and cleaning up my profile in LinkedIn.

Wish me luck on this very exciting journey. I hope to get feedback from many of you as I travel through 2013. If nothing else, this post will keep me accountable.