Career Advice

Choosing a career presents a nerve-racking decision, as it can have a life-long impact on you. Do not fret, as you can gain a clearer outlook into your future by thorough career planning.
Having a clear vision of the future can guide you by helping you set career goals and helping you on your way towards attaining them. Whether you are starting out on a new career or looking to change your current career, you will benefit enormously from taking sound advice. 

Finding a career on the other hand has proved to be such a hustle to many job seekers worldwide and neither is the story any different with us here. It cuts across all sectors of any career at any level say for instance from the initial stage of looking for a job, through the process of job application having identified an opportunity since securing the job is another big challenge that will need guidance from an expert.  Searching for jobs has been made easier since now potential employers have got a number of platforms from which they can inform the public of the current vacant positions in their companies or organizations.  Let take a look at these different platforms.

Employers’ Websites:
This is usually done by the Employee Seekers through posting these vacancies on the career page on their websites. This makes it much easier for any job seeker since they get information directly from their potential employers and the Application Process is usually specified by the employer. Some companies will require you to apply online through the filling of an Online Application Form, others through their Fax Addresses, delivery to their Physical Addresses, Postal Addresses, while some will simply provide an email address and this enhances the work of the Job Seeker. However, other companies will direct you to their respective Recruitment Agencies for their available vacancies and Application procedures.

Recruitment Agencies:
Recruitment companies have also made it easier by taking on the role of recruitment which initially should have been done by the initial employers. These do the sourcing for the potential candidates suitable for the various positions in the different employment centers. This is usually done by advertising on their own recruitment websites for those companies with which they partner and any time there are any vacancies, these recruitment agencies will be notified.

Job Sites
Job sites are yet another platform that has enhanced the work of Job Seekers and employers as well. Job sites such as this one ( take the initiative to collect and compile a list of these job vacancies from the different employers all around a given geographical locality and bring them together on one platform where those searching for them can locate them with their full details and Application information. All this is geared towards simplifying your work as a Job Seeker.

The Media
This is another great source of employment vacancy listings. Although many of these Media Houses still advertise on their official websites, Daily Journals and Newspaper Print outs serve a great purpose for even that one who cannot or can hardly access the internet. In some parts of a given location, it is much easier for many to access daily Newspaper Print Outs as opposed to internet services; in this regard Job Seekers are still covered.

Our next Article is going to cover the Application Process. We are going to take a step by step approach through the entire application process guidelines, documents required and any advice on which application process may be viable or most appropriate for you.

These posts are going to run on this Blog on a regular basis until when we fully exhaust the topic and make sure that everyone from anywhere can successfully locate a job of their interest, abilities and qualification, carry on the application process and go through the interview process with minimal hardships. The journey does not stop at that, having successfully acquired that job is not the end of your career journey; we will walk with you all the way to achieve advancement in your career, change of career and how to acquire promotions.

I have written a full topic on this stage in employment having found out that if not handled the right way, it has let down a lot of people on their dream careers, simply because they did not take the right steps as regards what was required of them. Having failed at this stage, so many people will find themselves on the road called "Job Search" and never getting to their career destinations.
Another category of people this site wants to help out are those who successfully passed though the first stage of job seeking and having identified an opportunity, are now aiming at successful job application. At this stage of our career journey, is when we involve a lot of paper work as will be discussed. These include the Resume, Cover Letter, Curriculum Vitae (CV), and Application Letter. All these documents will be discussed at length as we proceed with this career guidance program. Let us start with the first document called the Resume;
What is a Resume?
This is a document or compilation that shows a brief, though with a complete picture of one's professional qualifications, work experience, accomplishments and personal credentials (skills) submitted during job application.
A good resume need not be so detailed much as it will give the employer the impression that you are a potential, suitable candidate for the job thereby qualifying for an interview. I will time and again say this, a resume is not an application for the job and does not by any means waive you of the task of having to go through an interview, rather it just assists in qualifying you for the interview.
The rest of the details to explain all your qualifications, personal credentials and skills will be sent through another document called a Cover Letter sometimes called a Motivation Letter. Writing Cover Letters will also be discussed at length in our subsequent sections.
It may never be so easy to write a resume unless you figure out exactly what you want to bring out, then you will find it a walk over. By this I mean being more specific and not use general terms for example for a Secretary Job, it is better to state "Secretary Job for a Legal Firm" rather than simply saying "Secretary". This will place you in a better position to demonstrate your capability for this particular position. When this is stated clearly, then you are good to go.
There may be different ways of writing a resume since each and everybody's resume will always be unique from the other. Nevertheless, there are majorly three recognized types of resumes, namely; Chronological, Functional and Combination Resumes. Am going to discuss all the three and by the end of this you will be in a better position to figure out which one will work best for you.

• Chronological Resume:
Under this type of resume, the applicant will start by listing work history whereby starting from the most recent position held up to where they started from (if any). This is coupled by stating the qualifications to match the work history all with the periods when you held them and what accomplishments you came to while there. This is intended to show the potential employer where you have worked and what you have been able to attain there, thereby reflecting what you are capable of doing.

It should be however, noticed that this type of resume usually works out better for applicants with a strong work history. So if you are one with such a strong work background, then chronological resume is the one for you. Employers typically prefer this type of resume because it's easy to see what jobs you have held and when you have worked at them.
Below is a sample of a Chronological Resume obtained from one of the Publications. I hope it can bring out a good picture for simplicity to beginners.
Sample Chronological Resume for a Retail Position
Paul Jones
6 Pine Street
Arlington, VA 12333
555.555.5555 (home)
566.486.2222 (cell)
Key Holder, Montblanc
April 2009 - Present
  • Opened new specialty boutique
  • Place orders to restock merchandise and handled receiving of products
  • Manage payroll, scheduling, reports, email, inventory, and maintain clientele book and records
  • Integrated new register functions
  • Extensive work with visual standards and merchandising high-ticket items
Sales Associate, Nordstrom - Collectors and Couture Departments
July 2007 - April 2009
  • Merchandised designer women's wear
  • Set-up trunk shows and attended clinics for new incoming fashion lines
  • Worked with tailors and seamstresses for fittings
  • Scheduled private shopping appointments with high-end customers
Bartender, Jigg's Corner
February 2005 - July 2007
  • Provided customer service in fast-paced bar atmosphere
  • Maintained and restocked inventory
  • Administrative responsibilities included processing hour and tip information for payroll and closing register

Bachelor of Arts, Ramapo College, Arlington, VA

Computer Skills
  • Experience with social media and internet research

Functional Resume:
With a Functional Resume, emphasis is on your skills and not the positions you have held, responsibilities, experience acquired and accomplishments for each experience area. However, it should be noted that the skills listed should be specific and pointing towards the job you are applying for, otherwise, if they do not focus on the job being applied for, then it will not be beneficial.
This type of resume works best for fresh job seekers who have not yet gained any professional experience or those people whose work history has noticeable gaps. More so it works well for people switching from one job to another in a different field.
Below is sample of a Functional Resume that impressed me when I was making research a while ago, that I have opted to share it with you.
Sample Functional Resume - Management
Jose A. Adelo
1525 Jackson Street, City, NY 11111
Phone: 555-555-5555
To obtain a position where I can maximize my multilayer of management skills, quality assurance, program development, training experience, customer service and a successful track record in the Blood Banking care environment.

Results-oriented, high-energy, hands-on professional, with a successful record of accomplishments in the blood banking, training and communication transmission industries. Experience in phlebotomy, blood banking industry, training, quality assurance and customer service with focus on providing the recipient with the highest quality blood product, fully compliant with FDA cGMP, Code of Federal Regulations, AABB accreditation and California state laws.
Major strengths include strong leadership, excellent communication skills, competent, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments and supervisory skills including hiring, termination, scheduling, training, payroll and other administrative tasks. Thorough knowledge of current manufacturing practices and a clear vision to accomplish the company goals. Computer and Internet literate.

Program/Project Manager
Facilitated educational projects successfully over the past two years for Northern California blood centers, a FDA regulated manufacturing environment, as pertaining to cGMP, CFR's, CA state and American Association of Blood Bank (AABB) regulations and assure compliance with 22 organization quality systems.

Provided daily operational review/quality control of education accountability as it relates to imposed government regulatory requirements in a medical environment.
Assisted other team members in veni-punctures, donor reaction care and providing licensed staffing an extension in their duties by managing the blood services regulations documentation (BSD's) while assigned to the self-contained blood mobile unit (SCU).
Successfully supervised contract support for six AT&T Broadband systems located in the Bay Area. Provided customer intervention/resolution, training in telephony and customer care, Manpower Scheduling, Quality Control, Payroll and special projects/plant extensions and evaluations to ensure proper end-of-line and demarcation signal.

Reduced employee turnovers, introduced two-way communication to field employees, enhanced employee appearance and spearheaded the implementation of employee (health) benefits.

Chief point of contact for the AT&T telephone and the ABC Affiliated TV stations as it relates to complaints and diagnosing communicational problems either at the site or remote broadcasting. Also tested/repaired prototype equipment for possible consideration or for future use.

Reviewed FAA safety requirements and procedures to ensure compliance for aircraft and passenger safety.
Communication expert and programming specialist for the intermediate range Lance and Persian missile systems. Trained to operate and repair the (FDC) fire direction control computer system and field satellite communications.
Supervised and maintained the position of System Technician in charge of status monitoring and the integration of monitoring devices in nodes and power supplies. For the reception and transmission of telemetry to the network operation centers (NOC's) located in Denver, CO and Fremont, CA. Designed plant extensions, improved the paper flow and inventory control for the warehouse. Provided preventative maintenance at the system level, face to face customer interaction when required and traveled to several telephony/@home systems in the U.S. for evaluation and suggestions in using the status monitoring equipment.
  • Associate of Art, Administration of Justice, San Jose University, San Jose, CA
  • NCTI Certified, CATV System Technician, Denver, CO
  • ABM Certified, Cornerstone Technician, Denver, CO

Combination Resume:
A combination resume is like a merger of the two discussed above, it lists your skills and experience first then your employment history is listed next.
It is important to emphasize your skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for and then you may give your employment history in reverse-chronological order.
In the work history section, you only need to include the job titles held, name and location of the companies where you worked, together with the dates of employment.
 However, it should be noted that with the vibrant change in technology, other non-traditional types of resume have cropped up, namely;
Infographic Resume: This is a graphic visual presentation or simply a visual tool that brings out your skills, knowledge and other personal credentials.
Video Resume: Like the way it sounds, the applicants captures a video to give reason to the employer believe they are the best candidate for the job.
Social Resume: This type of resume is basically about job seekers posting their resume information onto their social media profiles such as LinkedIn in order to make it easy for employers to find such information online.
Like I said at the beginning of this stage that we called Job Application, a lot of paper work is involved and you will by no means avoid it regardless of the mode of application. Therefore, now that we have fully exhausted what a Resume is and what it does, in our next section, we are going to look at the Cover Letter in detail. So please keep post on this blog for our regular posts on the topic.


Now, let's take a look at what a Cover Letter is and its purpose.
Simply saying, a cover letter is a document sent along with the resume when applying for a job in order to give additional information about the application, such as, skills and experience and it will be required from any job applicant. It complements the contents of the resume.
It is in this document that the applicant has the opportunity to fully introduce himself, provide all this information in detail so as to convince the employer of his/her abilities, competencies and fitness for the job.  And finally to request to meet personally with the potential employer.
However, if not well formulated, the cover Letter may not serve the purpose it is intended for.
There are basically three types of Cover Letters Namely;

Application Letter:  This is a response to a job opening already known to the applicant.

Prospecting Letter:  This is an inquiry of any possible vacant position in line with the applicants resume. Don't assume the employer will contact you. You should say something like, "I will contact you in two weeks to learn more about upcoming employment opportunities with (name of organization)."  Then mark your calendar to make the call.

Networking Letter:  This is a request for information and guidance or any assistance during job seeking.
There are guidelines to follow if you are to write an effective Cover Letter as are discussed below.

The guidelines here apply to both hard copy correspondence and e-mail.
Main differences between e-mail and hard copy correspondence:
Format: your signature block (address, etc.) goes below your name in e-mail, while it goes at the top of the page on hard copy.
E-mail requires a subject line logical to the recipient. E-mail subject lines can make or break whether your e-mail is opened and read. Hard copy can have a subject line too, but it's on the letter (after recipient's address block and before "Dear...," and it's seen after the letter is opened.
Signature: Of course you won't have a handwritten signature on e-mail, but don't forget this on hard copy.
All cover letters should:
Explain why you are sending a resume.
Don't send a resume without a cover letter. 
Don't make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific: Do you want a summer internship opportunity, or a permanent position at graduation; are you inquiring about future employment possibilities?
Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization — a flyer posted in your department, a web site, a family friend who works at the organization. It is appropriate to mention the name of someone who suggested that you write.
Convince the reader to look at your resume.
The cover letter will be seen first.
Therefore, it must be very well written and targeted to that employer.
Call attention to elements of your background — education, leadership, experience — that are relevant to a position you are seeking. Be as specific as possible, using examples.
Reflect your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm, and communication skills.
Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that might not be covered in your resume, such as availability date, or reference to an attached writing sample.
Indicate what you will do to follow-up.

Contact Information
The first section of your cover letter should include information on how the employer can contact you. If you have contact information for the employer, include that. Otherwise, just list your information.

Your Contact Information
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address

Employer Contact Information
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

Body of Cover Letter
The body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up.

First Paragraph:
The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the position you are applying for. Include the name of a mutual contact, if you have one. Be clear and concise regarding your request. Convince the reader that they should grant the interview or appointment you requested in the first paragraph.

Middle Paragraphs:
The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Make strong connections between your abilities and their needs. Mention specifically how your skills and experience match the job you are applying for. Remember, you are interpreting your resume, not repeating it. Try to support each statement you make with a piece of evidence. Use several shorter paragraphs or bullets rather than one large block of text.

Final Paragraph:
Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow-up. State that you will do so and indicate when (one week's time is typical). You may want to reduce the time between sending out your resume and follow up if you fax or e-mail it.

Complimentary Close:
Respectfully yours,
Handwritten Signature (for a mailed letter)
Typed Signature

Letter of application, hard copy version
E-2 Apartment Heights Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(540) 555-0101
February 22, 20XY
Dr. Michelle Rhodes
Principal, Wolf trap Elementary School
1205 Beulah Road
Vienna, VA 22182
Dear Dr. Rhodes:
I enjoyed our conversation on February 18th at the Family and Child Development seminar on teaching elementary children and appreciated your personal input about balancing the needs of children and the community during difficult economic times.  This letter is to follow-up about the Fourth Grade Teacher position as discussed at the seminar.  I will complete my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at Virginia Tech in May 2011, and will be available for employment as soon as needed for the 2011-12 school year.
My teacher preparation program at Virginia Tech has included a full academic year of student teaching. Last semester I taught second grade and this semester am teaching fourth grade. These valuable experiences have afforded me the opportunity to:
  • Develop lesson plans on a wide range of topics and varying levels of academic ability,
  • Work with emotionally and physically challenged students in a total inclusion program,
  • Observe and participate in effective classroom management approaches,
  • Assist with parent-teacher conferences, and
  • Complete in-service sessions on diversity, math and reading skills, and community relations.
My experience includes work in a private day care facility, Rainbow Riders Childcare Center, and in Virginia Tech’s Child Development Laboratory.  Both these facilities are NAEYC-accredited and adhere to the highest standards.  At both locations, I led small and large group activities, helped with lunches and snacks, and implemented appropriate activities.  Both experiences also provided me with extensive exposure to the implementation of developmentally appropriate activities and materials.
I enthusiastically look forward to putting my knowledge and experience into practice in the public school system. Next week I will be in Vienna, and I plan to call you then to answer any questions that you may have.  I can be reached before then at (540) 555-7670.  Thank you very much for your consideration.
(handwritten signature)
Donna Harrington

Letter of application, e-mail version
Subject line: (logical to recipient!) Application for sales representative for mid-Atlantic area
April 14, 20XY
Mr. William Jackson
Employment Manager
Acme Pharmaceutical Corporation
13764 Jefferson Parkway
Roanoke, VA 24019
Dear Mr. Jackson:
From the Acme web site I learned about your need for a sales representative for the Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina areas. I am very interested in this position with Acme Pharmaceuticals, and believe that my education and employment background are appropriate for the position.
You indicate that a requirement for the position is a track record of success in meeting sales goals. I have done this. After completion of my B.S. in biology, and prior to beginning my master’s degree in marketing, I worked for two years as a sales representative with a regional whole foods company.  My efforts yielded success in new business development, and my sales volume consistently met or exceeded company goals. I would like to repeat that success in the pharmaceutical industry, using my academic background in science and business. I will complete my M.S. in marketing in mid-May and will be available to begin employment in early June.
Attached is a copy of my resume, which more fully details my qualifications for the position.
I look forward to talking with you regarding sales opportunities with Acme Pharmaceuticals. Within the next week I will contact you to confirm that you received my e-mail and resume and to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you very kindly for your consideration.
Layne A. Johnson
5542 Hunt Club Lane, #1
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(540) 555-8082
Resume attached as MS Word document (assuming company web site instructed applicants to do this)

Letter of inquiry about employment possibilities, e-mail version
Subject: (logical to recipient!) Inquiry about software engineering position after completion of M.S. in computer engineering
December 12, 20XY
Mr. Robert Burns
President, Template Division
MEGATEK Corporation
9845 Technical Way
Arlington, VA 22207
Dear Mr. Burns:
Via online research in Hokies4Hire through Career Services at Virginia Tech, I learned of MEGATEK. Next May I will complete my master of science in computer engineering. From my research on your web site, I believe there would be a good fit between my skills and interests and your needs. I am interested in a software engineering position upon completion of my degree.
As a graduate student, I am one of six members on a software development team in which we are writing a computer-aided aircraft design program for NASA. My responsibilities include designing, coding, and testing of a graphical portion of the program which requires the use of ZX-WWG for graphics input and output. I have a strong background in CAD, software development, and engineering, and believe that these skills would benefit the designing and manufacturing aspects of template software.  Enclosed is my resume with further background information.
My qualifications equip me to make a contribution to the project areas in which your division of MEGATEK is expanding efforts.  I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss a position with you, and will contact you in a week or ten days to answer any questions you may have and to see if you need any other information from me.  Thank you for your consideration.
Morgan Stevens
123 Ascot Lane
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(540) 555-2556
Resume attached as MS Word document

Letter of inquiry about internship opportunities, hard copy version
2343 Blankinship Road
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(540) 555-2233
January 12, 20XY
Ms. Sylvia Range
Special Programs Assistant
Marion County Family Court Wilderness Challenge
303 Center Street
Marion, VA 24560
Subj: Wilderness Challenge internship position
Dear Ms. Range:
This semester I am a junior at Virginia Tech, working toward my bachelor's degree in family and child development. I am seeking an internship for this summer 20XY, and while researching opportunities in the field of criminal justice and law, I found that your program works with juvenile delinquents. I am writing to inquire about possible internship opportunities with the Marion County Family Court Wilderness Challenge.
My work background and coursework have supplied me with many skills and an understanding of dealing with the adolescent community; for example:
  • 10 hours per week as a volunteer hotline assistant for a local intervention center. After a 50-hour training program, I counseled teenagers about personal concerns and referred them, when necessary, to appropriate professional services for additional help.
  • Residence hall assistant in my residence hall, which requires me to establish rapport with fifty residents and advise them on personal matters, as well as university policies. In addition, I develop social and educational programs and activities each semester for up to 200 participants.
My enclosed resume provides additional details about my background.
I will be in the Marion area during my spring break, March 6-10.  I will call you next week to see if it would be possible to meet with you in early March to discuss your program.
Thank you for your consideration.
(handwritten signature)
Stacy Lee Gimble

Information seeking letter, hard copy version
23 Roanoke Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(540) 555-1123
October 23, 20XY
Mr. James G. Webb
Delon Hampton & Associates
800 K Street, N.W., Suite 720
Washington, DC 20001-8000
Dear Mr. Webb:
Next May I will complete my bachelor’s degree in Architecture at Virginia Tech, and am researching employment opportunities in the Washington area. I obtained your name from Professor (lastname) who teaches my professional seminar class this semester. S/he indicated that you had volunteered to provide highly motivated graduating students with career advice, and I hope that your schedule will permit you to allow me to ask for some of your time and advice. I am particularly interested in historic preservation and have done research on the DHA website to learn that your firm does work in this area. I am also interested in learning how the architects in your firm began their careers. My resume is enclosed simply to give you some information about my background and project work.
Within two weeks I will call you to arrange a time to speak to you by telephone or perhaps visit your office if that would be convenient. I will be in the Washington area during the week of November 22. I very much appreciate your time and consideration of my request, and I look forward to talking with you.
(handwritten signature)
Kristen Walker

Follow-up letter to information seeking meeting, e-mail version
Subject: (logical to recipient!) Thank you for meeting Tuesday, Nov. 23
November 26, 20XY
Mr. James G. Webb
Delon Hampton & Associates
800 K Street, N.W., Suite 720
Washington, DC 20001-8000
Dear Mr. Webb:
Thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to meet with me on Tuesday. It was very helpful to me to learn so much about the current projects of Delon Hampton & Associates and the career paths of several of your staff. I appreciate your reviewing my portfolio and encouraging my career plans. I also enjoyed meeting Beth Ormond, and am glad to have her suggestions on how I can make the most productive use of my last semester prior to graduation.
Based on what I learned from my visit to your firm and other research I have done, I am very interested in being considered for employment with DHA in the future. I will be available to begin work after I graduate in May 20ZY. As you saw from my portfolio, I have developed strong skills in the area of historical documentation and this is a good match for the types of projects in which your firm specializes. I have enclosed a copy of my resume to serve as a reminder of my background, some of which I discussed with you when we met.
During the next few months I will stay in contact with you in hopes that there may be an opportunity to join your firm. Thank you again for your generous help, and I hope you are enjoying a pleasant holiday.
Kristin Walker
23 Roanoke Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(540) 555-1123
(E-mail version of course has no handwritten signature, and your signature block appears below your name at the close.)