Finding a Job:
Self Appraisal

You need a job. And you feel that somewhere, some employer has precisely the job you want -one that fully utilizes your knowledge and abilities and provides challenges and opportunities for advancement.

To find that job, you need to carry out a well-planned job search. You have a product to sell - your knowledge, skills, and experience. What you need to know is how to market it most effectively. Whether you are just out of school and ready to start your career or looking for a new position after 20 years' experience, some of the techniques presented in this section may help you. It offers suggestions on:

  • Where you can find out more about the kinds of jobs you are qualified to hold.
  • How to present your background in a resume that will convince an employer that you are the person for the job.
  • How to write a letter of application that catches an employer's interest.
  • Where to go for information on job opportunities in your field.
  • How to present your qualifications to the best advantage in a job interview.

And it offers tips on planning your time, taking tests, and learning to profit from your job interviews.


As the first step in merchandising your job talents, draw up a detailed inventory of your background and work experience. This will be both a summary of what you can offer employers and your expectations as to earnings and working conditions.

No matter what kind of job you seek, your inventory will be a basic tool in your job search. If pursuing a professional or managerial job, it will be the basis for preparing a resume. In addition, the inventory will provide all the details you need in filling out job applications with accuracy and consistency.

To prepare your inventory, list all the data you think might help in your job search. Later, depending on the particular job you are after, select certain facts and leave out others, as you think best. Here is a suggested outline:

Work history

List all your previous jobs, including part-time, summer, and freelance. For each, give employer's name and address, your job title, duties, dates employed, and earnings. Note what you liked about each job and why, and what you disliked and why. Also, why you left each job.

Skills and abilities

List personal qualities that make you good at certain work. Think back over your school and volunteer activities as well as your work and list your strong points, such as initiative, imagination, leadership, ability to organize, willingness to follow orders, interest in details, and ability to work with people. Write what you learned on the job that you can use in another position.


List the schools you attended, dates, principal courses, and degrees or certificates earned. Then, business, vocational, military, on-the-job training, and other special courses you have taken, the dates, and the certificates, if any, received.

Ask yourself what courses or training you liked best and why, and what courses or training you disliked and why. Now list your honors, awards, and extracurricular activities. If you are a recent graduate, your activities may be a significant part of your job qualifications. For example, you may have worked for the campus newspaper or radio station, been the treasurer of a club, or won an award for a scientific achievement.

Even if your activities don't appear to be job-related, put them down anyway: Serving as captain of a team sport can indicate leadership; handling props for a theater group shows organizational ability.

interests and aptitudes

In addition to school activities, list all your hobbies, leisure pursuits, and other special aptitudes. It can be significant to a prospective employer that you can fix complex electronic equipment, repair cars and trucks, play a musical instrument, speak a foreign language, draw and paint, or operate a ham radio. Analyzing your talents can also give insight into the kind of job to seek.

Physical condition

List any disabilities that could significantly impair job performance. Also, list your strong points.

Career goal

What kind of work do you think you want to be doing 5 or 10 years from now? What sort of job should you be seeking now to meet this goal?

Jobs for which best qualified

Analyze carefully all information in your inventory, then figure out the kinds of jobs you are best qualified for and want. Put them down in order of preference.

When you have completed your inventory of work experience, you are ready to push ahead in your quest for a job. You will be tracking down the various sources of job information, preparing a resume, and filling out applications for jobs as you follow up the leads you develop.

What if you're still not sure? Suppose you have carefully considered all the factors in your inventory and find you are still not ready to answer the key question:

What kind of job do I want? You may have just completed school or left military service and know little about the sorts of jobs that are open to you. You may have decided that you are on the wrong track vocationally and want to switch to a new field. Perhaps you have been out of the labor force for years because of family responsibilities. Or for other reasons you are not sure what your job goal should be.

You need to learn more about different types of jobs. A good place to go is a local office of your State Job Service. It has information about jobs and the qualifications needed to fill them. You may be given an appointment with a career counselor who will help you decide what sort of work is best suited to your abilities and interests.

Another good source of information about various types of jobs is your local public library. You can find books that tell you about specific careers.