How to Get and Keep a Job

Three Parts:Applying for JobsAcing the InterviewKeeping a Job

Getting a job can be hard enough in today’s economy, while keeping your job can be a whole new challenge. Still, if you’re diligent in your job search, give the best possible impression in your interview, and show how much you care about your job, then you’ll be able to get and keep the job of your dreams. It may take a while to get there, but once you’ve found your dream job, it’ll be worth all of the time and effort.

Part 1
Applying for Jobs

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    Get your resume in shape. It’s important to get your resume in the best shape possible before you begin your job search. You need to state all of your relevant work experience, use active verbs to explain the work you’ve done, and make your resume easy to read and understand. Most importantly, you have to make sure to proofread it several times before showing it to anyone.[1]
    • Keep in mind that you may need to create more than one resume in order to tailor your experience to the position. If you’re applying to both a job as a library assistant and a teacher, for example, then you may need two resumes that highlight different strengths.
    • Make sure your resume is easy to read and that it’s obvious where you worked, what your position was, and how long you worked there.
    • Some positions will ask you to list your references right on your resume. Prepare to have at least 2-3 people who can vouch for you before you begin the job hunt.
    • Have a friend or a professional in your field look over your resume to give suggestions for how to make it more readable.
    • Size 11 font has been shown to be the most appealing font to employers. You can try font 10 if you really have a lot of information to cover, but you shouldn’t go smaller than that.[2]
    • There is the option of paying companies to help you spruce up your resume, but this can cost a pretty penny.
    • Use a simple font, most preferably Times New Roman.
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    Gain additional skills that you may need. If you feel like you don’t have the needed skills to even land an interview in your field, then you may need to do a bit of skill building before you take your resume out into the world. There are a variety of ways to gain more experience before putting yourself out there if that’s what you want to do.
    • See if you can gain experience at an internship, even if you’re only doing it a few hours a week. Though the work won’t be paid, most likely, it’s a great way to get your foot in the door and to gain the skills you need to get an impressive resume.
    • There are also many opportunities to learn skills online. For example, if you’re applying for editing jobs and notice that many of them prefer a candidate who knows basic HTML, find an online class that can help you master this skill.
    • Talk to people in the field that you want to enter. They can help you get a sense of the skills you should possess before you start looking for a job.
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    Network. Some studies show that up to 70-80% of jobs are found through networking, not through the traditional job application process. If you want to dramatically increase your chances of getting a job, then you have to try to network with professionals in your field, as well as with people you know, as much as you can. Though this may feel like you’re cheating, think of it as giving yourself the edge you need to succeed.[3]
    • It makes sense that it’s much easier to get a job through networking. Employers want to hire someone who can be vouched for instead of facing a pile of anonymous resumes; it makes their job much easier.
    • You may not think that you know anyone who can help you get a job. However, even if your friends or family members don’t directly have a connection to anyone in your field, you should tell them that you’re starting your job hunt to see if they know someone who knows someone who can be an asset to you.
    • If you’ve gone to college and your school has regular networking events in the area, try attending a few to see who you can meet. Make sure you prepare your elevator pitch before you go to these events, so you can comfortably tell people who you are and what you’re looking for when they ask you to tell them a little bit about yourself.
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    Search for jobs. Once you have your resume up to date, have tried your hand at networking, and have an idea of what you’re looking for, then you can begin your job search. Check out all of the different job searching sites on the Internet and look for positions that sound perfect for you. You should pick jobs that you feel fairly qualified for, though you can go out on a limb and apply for a job that may ask for a bit more experience than you have if you feel like you can make up for it in other ways.
    • Remember that it’s important to apply to a job while it’s “hot,” or recently posted. The most activity around a job posting happens in the first three days, so if you find a job that sounds absolutely perfect for you, try to apply for as soon as you can instead of putting it off until the weekend.[4]
    • Some popular sites for looking for jobs are,,, or even
    • You can also look for job search sites that are more relevant for your field. For example, if you’re looking to get a job at a startup, then you can try sites like
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    Have an eye-catching cover letter. Once you’ve found a job you want to apply to, you should take the time to write a concise, eye-catching cover letter that shows why you’re perfect for the job. If you really want to succeed, then yes, you should individualize each cover letter to the job you’re applying for. This shows employers that you take the job seriously and that you really want to be a part of their team.[5]
    • If you can find the name of the hiring manager or the person in charge of your application, then addressing your cover letter to this person shows that you really care.
    • Use engaging language. Instead of saying, “I believe I am a strong candidate for the job,” say something more exciting like, “I would love to bring my enthusiasm and experience to your team.”
    • Make sure to address the qualifications and qualities the company is looking for and to show how you possess them and how you would succeed in the position.
    • Don’t just regurgitate your resume. Give them more details about work you’ve done or interests you have that they can’t find out about through your resume alone.
    • Keep it short and sweet. Just two paragraphs talking about who you are and why you’d be a good fit for the company and one paragraph saying where you can be reached and that you would look forward to an interview will be just fine.
    • Keep your language professional and appropriate to the company. If the company is a serious business, then you shouldn’t try to use casual, jokey language; however, if you’re applying to write for an online humor journal, you can be a bit more creative in your word choice.
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    Apply to jobs. Once you’ve found a few jobs to apply for, go ahead and send in your resume and cover letter and hope for the best. If you want to take initiative, you can send a follow up email to make sure the hiring manager got your materials after a week or so to show that you really care. If you’re really serious about the job search, then you should aim to apply to at least a few positions each week, as long as they sound relatively appealing.
    • Some companies can take months to get back to you, so it’s best to keep your options open and to cast a wide net.
    • As you apply to more and more positions, it will become easier, because it won’t be as hard to tailor your cover letter to each job.
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    Be prepared for it to take a while. The fact of the matter is, the job search process is an arduous one, and it can take several months, or even longer, to find a job that suits you. The average person applies to over 60 jobs before finding that perfect fit, so you shouldn’t feel discouraged if you apply to 30 or 40 jobs and don’t hear a peep back; this is a reflection of the market and the fact that many jobs are posted but given to internal hires or people who get them through networking. Don’t think that this means you’ll never find a job and continue your search.
    • Though this will take up a lot of your time and may be draining, imagine how good you’ll feel when you finally land that perfect job after so much hard work.
    • Don’t let the job search affect your mental state. Many people get really discouraged by the whole process, but you can’t let it get you down. Rest assured that, if you work hard enough, you are bound to succeed.
    • Continue to network as you search for jobs the traditional way. You never know what you may turn up.

Part 2
Acing the Interview

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    Prepare in advance. If you’ve landed an interview, then the most important thing you can do in advance is to prepare as much as you can for your big day. You want to read up on the company, understand what the position truly entails, practice answering relevant interview questions for your field, and make sure you have plenty of specific examples to illustrate how you have the qualities your employers are looking for.
    • You’ll probably be asked about your biggest strengths. Make sure you’re prepared with specific examples of why you possess these strengths, and make sure that they are skills that your interviewers are looking for for the position.[6]
    • You may be asked about your weaknesses or areas of improvement. Don’t say that your biggest weakness is that you work too hard; they’ve all heard that before. Instead, you should mention a weakness that isn’t that bad and which isn’t crucial to the position, and also mention steps you’re taking to improve that weakness.[7]
    • You will likely be asked why you’re a good fit for the company. Make sure you understand the company’s mission and goals and talk about any relevant things about the company, such as the workplace culture, that make you a good fit for the team.
    • Prepare to answer behavioral questions too, such as, “What would you do if a manager was out of line?” or “How would you control a classroom with several rowdy students?”
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    Get there a little early. The worst thing you can do is to roll in to an interview late; this shows that you really don’t care about the job. Aim to get there at least half an hour early, and then walk in to the building 5-10 minutes early. This shows that you have your act together without you being so early that your interviewers are annoyed or thrown off. Use this time to get yourself in a calm and positive state instead of reviewing your answers.
    • Bring a copy of your resume and cover letter with you, along with any other relevant materials you may need to bring. This can help you answer your questions and can show that you’ve put thought into your interview.
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    Dress professionally. Obviously, dressing professionally and looking your best is a must when it comes to an interview. Even if the environment at the job you’re applying for is a bit more casual, you should err on the side of being overdressed than looking overly casual in a more professional setting. Wear well-fitting, neat, and appropriate clothing and make sure you’re well groomed and look put together for the interview.
    • Looking professional will not only show your employers that you take your job seriously, but it will also give you more confidence as you go through your interview.
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    Be articulate. It’s important to be confident, well-spoken, and articulate as you answer your interview questions. Speak clearly and slowly enough to be understood, look your interviewers in the eye, and know that it’s okay to take a minute to form your response instead of blurting out your answers before you’re ready. Make sure to answer the questions confidently without coming off as arrogant, and be comfortable asking for clarification when it’s necessary.
    • When you speak, make sure to keep your posture solid and keep your hands on your lap. Avoid fidgeting or staring at the floor. This can help you sound confident.
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    Ask questions to show you’re really interested in the position. At the end of most interviews, employers ask if you have any questions for them. You should remember that the interview really works both ways and that it’s up to you to see if the job is a good fit for you as well. Prepare a few questions to show that you really care about the position and want to be as involved as you can. If you say that you have absolutely no questions, this can indicate that you haven’t really done your research.
    • You can ask things like, “How would you describe the office culture at your company?” or “Will there be opportunities to collaborate with other employees?” or “I read about the (name here) project online. I was wondering if you could tell me more about it.”
    • If the interviewers truly did answer all of your questions, you can say, “I was going to ask more about (mention the aspect of the job here), but you’ve already covered that.”
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    Know what not to do. There are a few no-nos when it comes to interviewing successfully. Though you should focus on the positive aspects of interviewing, you should make an effort not to do a few things that show employers that you’re not really all that serious about your job. Here are a few things you want to try to avoid when it comes to interviewing:[8]
    • Avoid asking about perks before you’ve gotten the job. If you’re already asking about vacation days and bonuses before you’ve been hired, it’ll show that you care more about what comes with the job than the job itself.
    • Don’t bring your coffee into the interview with you. This shows that you’re taking too much of a casual approach to the interview.
    • If they ask why you left or want to leave your current position, avoid bad-mouthing your previous employer. Even if your old or current boss is a real jerk, you should never say this. Say something like, “I’ve gained a ton of valuable experience at my current job, but I’m ready for a new challenge.”
    • Don’t mention that you’ve applied to 80 other jobs without getting an interview. You want your employers to feel like the position they are hiring for is your #1 choice.

Part 3
Keeping a Job

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    Develop a great relationship with your boss. The most important way to make sure you keep your job is to have a strong relationship with your boss. You don’t need to be best friends with your boss, but you should have a friendly relationship that is based on mutual respect and strong communication. Though each boss has his or her own style, you should make sure to be friendly with your boss and receptive to what he or she has to say, and to show that you really care about him or her.
    • Though some bosses are much more private about their personal lives than others, if your boss is open about his interests or his family, then you can take the time to ask him about it when you’re making small talk.
    • If you have issues with your job, take it up with your boss respectfully. Don’t complain to your coworkers instead, or you risk having that get back to you.
    • When your other co-workers gossip about your boss, try to remove yourself from the situation.
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    Be a team player. Another way to make sure you to keep your job is to show that you can play well with others. If you want to seem like an important part of your company, then you should be friendly with your co-workers, receptive to their ideas, and willing to openly collaborate and communicate with the people you work with. Even if you disagree occasionally, you should do so respectfully so that you seem like you can get along with anyone.
    • If you have a reputation for not being able to get along with other co-workers, then your boss will see that it’s hard to fit you into a team. However, if you’re the one making people laugh and feel good at the office, it’ll be hard to picture the office without you.
    • Make an effort to attend office activities after work, such as happy hours, volunteering events, or team building activities. Though you don’t have to attend every event, you should make an effort to show that you do care about your co-workers outside the office.
    • Steer clear of office gossip. You don’t want to get a reputation for talking about people behind their backs.
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    Maintain a positive attitude. One way to make sure you keep your job is to try to maintain a positive attitude around the office as much as you can. Talk about the things you love about your job instead of complaining about the things you don’t like and make an effort to make other people smile and to avoid whining about the small details you’re not so thrilled about. Get a reputation for always having a smile on your face and it’ll be much more likely that you’ll keep your job.
    • Of course, if something really upsets you at the office, you should have a respectful conversation with your boss about it. You don’t need to “fake” it if you really feel like something isn’t right.
    • Try to laugh or be cheerful as much as you can. You want people to feel like they are gaining energy from your presence, not being drained by you.
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    Accept challenges. If you want to keep your job, then you should make sure to be eager and excited about whatever challenges come your way. You don’t want to look like you don’t want to do anything beyond your job description. If your boss asks you to take on an extra project or to try something new, you should accept it and be excited about all of the new things you will learn.
    • If you continue to challenge yourself, not only will you impress your boss, but you will also make your job much more fun and rewarding.
    • You want to be known as the person who will be happy to take on extra work or to learn something new. You should be the first person your boss thinks of when it’s time to tackle a new project.
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    Be punctual. Showing up to work on time, or even a little early, may not sound like a huge deal, but it’s actually an important way to show your boss and everyone in the company how much your work means to you. Make an effort to show up at least 15-20 minutes early each day so you’ll at least be there on time if you run into an unexpected delay. Plus, if you get there a little early, you can get a head start on your day.
    • If you do show up late, make sure to apologize and show that you know this is not acceptable. You don’t want to seem smug about it.
    • Make sure to be punctual to all meetings as well.
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    Be organized. You should make a sincere effort to be neat and organized in all of the work that you do. Make sure your computer files and all of the files of your desk are in order, that your appointment calendar is up to date, and that you have a to-do list that is easy to accomplish and easy to read. If you spend just 10 minutes a day cleaning up your workspace and organizing your files, you should be in great shape.
    • Being organized is another sign of somebody who really takes his or her work seriously. If your boss asks you to send him a file and it takes you an hour to find it, then this shows that you don’t really value your work.
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    Look professional. If you want to show that you take your job seriously, then you have to show up to the office looking professional. Though some offices are more casual than others, you have to adhere to the dress code and show that you’re really determined to make a good impression. Plus, you will feel more professional if you look more professional, and having a disheveled appearance will make it look like you really don’t want to put in the effort.
    • If you care for your appearance, then your boss, your clients, and your customers will take you more seriously.
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    Be innovative. Another way to make sure you keep your job is to be creative and innovative in your position and to always look out for new ways to do things. You don’t want your boss to think that you’re set in your ways and that you’re not ready for the next challenge that your job will bring. Technology and the work many people do is rapidly changing, and you have to be ready to roll with the punches, and even ready to propose ideas for how to do your work more efficiently.
    • Be eager to suggest new ways of doing things to your boss, and to show him or her that you’re always thinking outside the box.
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    Take feedback gracefully. If you want to keep your job, then you have to be able to take feedback well, and to understand that constructive feedback is meant to make you do better at your job, not to make you feel inadequate in some way. You should be respectful and thankful when your boss takes the time to give you feedback, and use it to improve what you do on a daily basis.
    • If you’re mean or unreceptive to feedback, then your boss will see that you’re not willing to improve at your job.
    • Of course, not every drop of feedback may always be helpful to you. Still, you should be kind and gracious when you receive it.
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    Continue your professional training. Show that you want to go above and beyond by continuing your professional training even after you’ve landed your job. Take night classes, get a part-time Master’s degree, attend conferences, read relevant journals in your field, talk to experts, and just do whatever it is you want to do in order to stay up-to-date about the innovations in your field and to do the best work that you can.
    • If your boss knows that you’re continuing your professional training, then he’ll see that you’re really committed to excelling in your field and taking your job to the next level.
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    Love the work that you do. Honestly, when it comes down to it, the best thing you can do to keep your job is to truly love all of the work that you do. If you feel like you’re faking it at work or pretending to be interested in most of the things you do, then it may be time to find a position that is better suited to your interests. If you find something that truly suits you, then you’ll feel like you never have to work a day in your life.
    • If you really love your work, then you won’t have to make an effort to be positive, to advance in your field, and to find new ways to succeed at what you do every single day.


  • If you align yourself with the needs and wants of the employer you'll get and keep the job, if you don't... You'll end up in the bin!

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Categories: Job Search | Job Strategies