Tuesday, June 23, 2020 Charleston County Library

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Searching for work can be difficult. Job-seekers are often stressed about money and time, or just feeling unsure about the whole process. But CCPL is here to help. We are available by phone, email, as well as in person, to answer your questions and provide important resources. We’ve also developed a few tips that may help job-seekers avoid common mistakes.

1. Use email effectively. If you do not have an email address, you will need to create one. Even if you already have email, you may want to consider creating a new one just for your job search. Make sure that your email address shows you in a professional light. If your email address is [email protected], or [email protected], you might consider changing it to a more professional: [email protected].

Also, once you start applying online, prospective employers are likely to contact you via email for a variety of reasons. Check your email daily, or you could miss an opportunity. Delete emails often and file important ones that you may need later. Don’t get lost in your email inbox.

Check out this video that shows how to set up and use and email account while applying for a job.

2. Know Your Career Goals

Where do you imagine yourself working? What type of position do you want? How much money do you need to make? How far are you willing to commute? Are you willing to relocate? How many hours per week do you want to work? These are all decisions that you need to make as you apply for jobs.

If you need help with your budget, try this budget calculator from Quicken.

The Princeton Review has a very good career quiz.

Additionally, if your dream job doesn’t materialize immediately, what sort of job are you willing to take to make ends meet? What sort of establishment can use your talents and skills?

3. References

As you begin to look for work, one of the very first steps is to contact 2-3 people and ask them if you may use them as a reference. Make sure that these people can attest to your work ethic and will give you a good reference. Ideally a reference would be a past supervisor. Former colleagues are also a good choice. References should not be friends or family. Once you have a reference’s permission to use them, make sure that you have their current contact information including email, phone number, and current title.

Also, if you learn that one of these people gave you a good reference, thereby helping you get a job, be sure to thank them.

4. Tailor your Resume and Cover Letter

It is tempting to have one resume and one cover letter to send out to every position. However, they will be more effective if you take the time to tailor them to each job. Go ahead and have a general one available to whip out on short notice, but when you are able take advantage of the opportunity to address specific skills and character traits requested in the job announcement, do it.

For example, if you are applying for a job that stresses customer service skills, include an example of when you were able to provide excellent customer care at a previous position.

Do some research to learn about the company and try to figure out the name of the person receiving your cover letter. Address the letter directly to them whenever possible.

Proofread your resume and cover letter very carefully! You don’t want to send off a document that has typos or information pertaining to a different position. Ask a friend or family member to proofread it as well. Listen to their suggestions for improvement, as they may have some very valuable input.

Look back at this past post about getting started with a resume.

5. Be Organized

Looking for work is a job in and of itself. Treat it as such. Set aside time each day to complete job-related tasks. For example, determine to look for work for 3 hours, or set a goal to apply to 1 job.

It is very easy to start applying for so many jobs that you lose track of them all. Many companies require you to create online accounts, so you need a system to keep track of them. It’s a good idea to have a list or spreadsheet to record where and when you applied, login information, contact information, when you followed up, and maybe a column for notes.

6. Use all the Job Search Resources

Don’t limit yourself by searching only online. There are numerous job search resources available out there, including: 

  1. Networking
  2. Social Media
  3. Job Fairs
  4. Career Counseling Services
  5. National Career Sites and Career Search Engines
  6. Company Websites
  7. Professional Associations

7. Apply with Confidence

Take stock of your skills and talents. Write them down. You have a lot to offer! If you find positions that interest you, but you don’t meet every requirement, apply anyway. Those requirements are a wish list, and many companies will look past a few deficits if they believe they’ve found the right candidate.

Identify specific examples of your work ethic, abilities, and skills. Be prepared to talk about them if given the opportunity. Be confident. Taking a chance could pay off.

Follow up with jobs with a phone call or email. Sometimes this simple step can lead to an interview just because they recognize your name and you took the time to contact them.

8. Prepare for an Interview

Practice for interviews, even if you don’t have one scheduled. Practice speaking slowly and clearly and looking people in the eye while answering questions. Create a list of common interview questions and practice answering them out loud. Come up with specific examples of your skills or work ethic and be prepared to talk about them.

Indeed has an extensive list of common interview questions.

Dress the part. You will need professional attire. Make sure your interview clothes are pressed, stain-free, and hemmed. This is not about the quality of your clothes, but the type of clothes you wear shows your interest in the job and your professional attitude.

Balance Careers has a helpful interview dressing guide.

9. Be Kind to Yourself

Looking for work is stressful. Be patient and kind to yourself. Take time to meditate, get outside, or otherwise unwind. Eat right, exercise, and take care of yourself. Do what you can and don’t be too hard on yourself.


Looking for work is almost guaranteed to take longer than you think. Finding the perfect job? Even longer. You may need to take a less than perfect job just to make ends meet. In the meantime, you may find new opportunities and develop new skills in that position.  

If you are like most people, you won’t get the first few jobs you apply for. It’s a process. Look at any rejections as practice. Learn from that bad interview or awkward follow-up call. Some interviewers may even provide feedback if asked. You’ll do better next time.

If you would like more information, assistance in finding resources, tips on how to get the job hunting process started or more, please reach out to us at CCPL by email, chat, or text. You may also call us at 843-805-6930, leave a voice message, and a library staff member will return your call. Remember, you are not alone.