Find a Job. Go to College. How to Network for a Job. Career ChecklistFind a Job. Go to College. How to Network for a Job. Career Checklist

College may be Free (you could make money)

Read this page, then check out the fastest growing careers.

You may qualify for the Pell Grant which pays up to $5,730 a year! This does not need to be repayed. There is also a tax credit (the American Opportunity Tax Credit) that pays you up to an additional $2500 a year. It is worth noting you cannot have your Bachelor's yet to qualify.

The health field has numerous positions that constantly leads in pay and occupational growth rate. You can take the free Health Career Test if interested in exploring a career in health care.

The salary difference between educational levels:

  • No high school diploma = $20,241
  • High school graduate only = $30,627
  • Some college, no degree = $32,295
  • Associate's Degree = $39,771
  • Bachelor's Degree = $56,665

The difference between a high school graduate and a person with a bachelor's degree is an average of $26,000. That's $260,000 over a 10 year span. With many online programs, education has never been more accessible either. If you hold a job or have family responsibilities, online courses may work. Considering a college degree may be worth it.

Educational Tax Breaks

As stated above, if you qualify, you can receive up to $5,730 in grant funds from the U.S. federal government to attend college. At the same time, you can also receive some substantial tax breaks.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit (or AOTC) gives a maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. To qualify, you must not have a bachelor's (this credit applies to your first 4 years of college). You also can't have a modified adjusted gross income of more than $80,000 is single or $160,000 if married filing a joint return.

If you don't qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (perhaps you are pursuing a master's degree), you still qualify for the Lifetime Learning Credit. This credit will help pay for those graduate classes or courses to improve job skills. If eligible, you can qualify for up to $2,000.

Free Resume and Cover Letter Templates — Enjoy!

These templates are in Microsoft Word format. If you do not own Microsoft Office, Google Documents can open a Word Document (.doc) file. Visit the Resume Tips page if you need assistance deciding on a format.

Change your Career in 5 Steps

Check out this helpful article to get retrained in a new career in as few as 5 steps.

Career Checklist

  1. Check your email address. Is it professional? If it isn't, create a new one for your job applications. You can also appear more tech-savvy by having a more popular email. Hotmail, AT&T, and AOL accounts can date you. Gmail and Yahoo are free email accounts that are popular and take a few minutes to set-up. When choosing your email account name, do not date it with the current year or your birthday. Try using your first, middle, and last name: firstmiddlelastname@gmail.com or first.middle.lastname@gmail.com. If that is taken (which is likely is) you can always be creative. Such as, contact.firstlast@gmail.com. Either way, look at your email address from an employers' point of view.
  2. Check your voicemail message. Make sure it is professional and friendly. Don't use ring back songs. Ensure there is no background noise (such as your car running). A nice, to the point message will do. Smile (this does make your message sound better) and record something as simple as: "Hello, you've reached Janet Smith, I'm sorry I missed your call and it is very important to me. Please leave your contact information and I will return your call as soon as possible. Have a great day!"
  3. Consider purchasing a cheap pre-paid cell phone if you will be moving and you are applying for jobs in that new location and gain a number with the location's area code. Use that new number on your resume and applications. The employer is more likely to be interested if it appears you live in the area. You can pick up a pre-paid phone at just about any large discount store.
  4. Try on your interview outfit. You could end up with an interview sooner than you think!
  5. Choose your references wisely. You will want to find three people that know you well, such as previous managers, clients, or co-workers. Make sure you have their most recent contact information.
  6. Contact each of your references. Ask if they will provide a reference so they are not caught off guard and inquire about their preferred method of contact.
  7. Email your references the job description and resume you submitted to the employer so they can represent you better. Do not use people who are not good communicators or those that have a history of not returning calls.

Check out the information on this page, then reference the following articles as you need them.

Research Employers

Did you know you could research employers? Many large companies have reviews on Glassdoor.com. View what current and ex employees think of the company. You may find questions the company has asked interviewees during their interview. This site gives salary ranges as well. You may not find every company on this site, but it does not hurt to look. The reviews are opinionated. A fired employee could trash their previous employer. So take the information at face value.

During the interview, you'll want to state why you are a great match for the company. If you don't know much about the company that is easier said than done.

Research the companies mission statement, how long they have been in business, check if there are press releases on future projects or past accomplishments. This information is generally easily found on the company's website.

Cold Calls and Inquiry Emails

Potential Employer Cold Calls

If you've identified a business you are interested in applying for, go online and research information about the company so you are informed before calling to inquire about positions. Be extremely nice to the person who answers the phone – they are the gatekeeper between you and the person you need to speak too!

If given the opportunity to speak with someone – be ready to sell yourself and compliment the company. During your research, you may have noticed that the company earned a special award, or maybe they have been identified as a top employer. Align your strengths with their needs and be ready to sell yourself.

Prior to the call, especially if you are nervous, you can write yourself a bit of a script.

"Hello, my name is ________ and I want to inquire about career opportunities at ABC Company. I would really appreciate it if you could transfer me to someone I can share my qualifications with."

Don't be discouraged if you don't get this far though. Many times, you will be told to visit their website, stop by for an application, or to email your resume and cover letter. You may also simply be told they are not hiring at this time. This is useful information. The more you know, the less time you will waste during your job hunt.

If you are transferred through, be ready to answer some questions. Bullet some key information you will want to relay and have that nearby to assist you during the call.

By the way, if you have your eyes set on a certain employer, let's not have that employer be your very first nervous cold call. Call somewhere else first and practice. There are advantages to cold calls and phone interviews. You can control your environment. For example, if you have strengths and skills you want to mention during the interview, you can have your notes ready on a piece of paper in front of you so you remember what you'd like to highlight. You can't do that in a face-to-face interview.

Inquiry Emails

You may not have a companies' phone number to inquire about a position, or the company states that it prefers you send an inquiry email. Either way, here is an example email job inquiry.

Dear Hiring Department,

Upon researching COMPANY NAME and viewing the scope of your clientele, I would like to apply for a JOB TITLE position within your company. I have a varied skill-set and could fill a few roles listed in the careers section of your site. Attached is my resume and cover letter.

Thank you in advance for your consideration and time.

NAME
CONTACT INFO

Network to Land a Job

Networking is one way to land a job. Knowing people who can place your resume in the right hands can gain you the advantage of attaining an interview. Volunteering can help you network and build referrals, so can attending community events, and joining local organizations. Fundraisers, dinner functions, and even a neighborhood block party can yield an unexpected contact.

Consider this, many available jobs are simply not advertised yet or perhaps they are about to become available. This is why networking is vital. It is even better if you can present your resume to an employer when a position is about to become available. This will give you a competitive edge.

LinkedIn.com (opens in a new browser window) is a good place to start.

  • Sign up for a free account. If you already have an account, review and update it.
  • Complete your LinkedIn profile.
  • Request as many recommendations as you can.
  • Link to professional groups that are affiliated with your career field.
  • Upload a professional looking photo.
  • Build up your connections.

You may also want to Google yourself to ensure a potential employer will not find non-professional information about you that will eliminate your chances of gaining employment.