Path to Employment
Identify Skills and Job Etiquette
You’re ready to begin the job search process, but first, it is important to identify your skills and brush up on key workplace etiquette practices. In short, your skills describe both what you love to do and areas in which you excel. You develop different skill sets through classroom learning, hands-on experience and job training. Being able to identify and describe your skills allows you to answer key questions often asked at job interviews.
In the workplace, employers look for two different sets of skills – both of which are essential to achieving success.
Technical skills include your ability to accomplish specific tasks. Often times, they relate to a specific occupation or field of study. You may have learned technical skills from previous work experience, school or training. Your technical skills include tangible items you can list on your resume. These skills are also often found in job listings to describe the requirements of a position.
Examples of technical skills include:
- Computer Coding
- Computer Skills
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft Outlook
- Internet access
- Customer support
- Data analysis
- Equipment operation
- Project management
- Reading comprehension
In addition to your technical skills, employers also seek employees with a wide array of soft skills, or personal attributes desired in the workplace. Unlike technical skills, soft skills are hard to prove or list on a resume, but you can exemplify these skills in an interview setting. While some soft skills are taught in the classroom, most are learned and strengthened over time, and most importantly, can always be improved.
Examples of soft skills include:
- A positive attitude
- Ability to work independently
- Appropriate dress
- Critical thinking
- Getting to work on time
- Problem solving skills
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Work ethic
Visit these sites to identify your skills and match them with top careers:
IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS
Many providers and programs offer free workshops, one-on-one assistance with basic reading/math skills and/or specific classes designed to improve communication skills or teach a particular computer program.
Participants can also earn a Ready to Work certificate, upon completion of the program, which includes a nationally recognized certification in important workplace skills.
West Virginia Adult Education Centers offer training needed to succeed both in the classroom school and on the job. Examples of skills you may learn or improve at your local Adult Education Center include:
Basic computer skills
Job readiness skills
For more information on Adult Education Centers in your area, visit: wvde.state.wv.us
SPOKES (Strategic Planning in Occupational Knowledge for Employment and Success) is a program designed to address academic and work-ready skills necessary for adults looking for full-time employment. The program requires a referral from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
The SPOKES program is designed to help participants gain the following:
Job readiness attributes
Work process skills
Vocational training in customer service
For more information on the SPOKES program, visit: wvadulted.com
Determine Your Career Interest
It’s now time to learn more about how your identified skill set aligns with certain careers. Fortunately, there are tools out there to help you every step of the way. First, take a brief survey to determine your interests and what you enjoy. Second, use survey results to conduct more thorough research on specific job positions, educational requirements, wages, skills and certifications needed to put you on the path to success.
TAKE AN INTEREST SURVEY
Interest Surveys can be taken online at mynextmove.org or at cfwv.com.
EXPLORE YOUR CAREER INTERESTS
Thanks to your interest survey, you now have insight into possible career paths. Now it’s time to explore each of them in more detail.
AVENUES OF RESEARCH
Depending on how you learn best, there are a number of ways to learn more about specific careers, including:
- Talk to, or schedule a meeting with, someone who works in the occupation
- Visit employer websites to learn more about the variety of businesses present in the industry
- Visit your local WorkForce West Virginia Career Center and request additional information
- Regional job opportunities
Still not sure where which career is best for you? Spend some time learning about growing careers in your area by checking out the latest occupational data for the state and your region. You can search by education requirements and wages, or simply see what’s in demand near you. Check out the Labor Market Information section on the WorkForce West Virginia website to see which careers are in demand in your region of West Virginia and what the average wages are for that career.
HAVE A BUSINESS IDEA?
Everyone’s path to success is different. If you have an idea or are interested in starting your own business, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WVSBDC) can help. The WVSBDC provides services and assistance throughout the business development process, including concept development, practical planning and valuable resources to help you get started. Learn more or sign up for a workshop today at wvsbdc.com
Get Proper Training and Education
Now that you’ve selected your desired career path, it is important to get the education and training you need to become a qualified job candidate. To help, we have pulled together basic information to get you started on this path, including how education level can and may affect pay, where to find training programs and how to enroll in secondary education.
EDUCATION LEVEL AND PAY
In most cases, jobs that require high levels of education and skill are likely to pay higher wages than jobs that require fewer skills and less education. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the unemployment rate among those with a professional degree is significantly lower than those with a high school diploma or less than complete high school education. Statistics also indicate that earnings increase significantly as a worker’s degree of education rises.
DETERMINE EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Equipped with knowledge on your skill set and growing industries in your area, it’s time to learn more about the educational requirements of your desired career field.
For more information on education and earnings, visit: lmi.workforcewv.org
FIND A TRAINING PROGRAM AND PROVIDER
Over the years, West Virginia has worked hard to increase the number of specialized education and training programs. Whether your desired occupation requires a certificate, apprenticeship, two-year or four-year post-secondary education degree, there are options for you to explore in West Virginia.
To find programs that match your identified skills and career interests, check out these helpful resources:
Polish Your Job-Seeking Skills
Once you receive the proper training and education needed for your desired career field, it is time to prepare and perfect the skills you need to look for and apply to specific jobs. The fifth step in the process will provide you with information on how to fill out a job application, craft a great resume, prepare an effective cover letter, perfect your interview skills and access additional job search assistance.
COMPLETING A JOB APPLICATION
We understand that filling out a job application can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Your application is where you get to convey your accomplishments, past experience and willingness to work hard to obtain the job at hand.
GENERAL APPLICATION TIPS
Include your most relevant and transferrable skills.
Emphasize that you have the required skills, experience and education for the position.
List the jobs you’ve held over the last 10 years in reverse chronological order (current job first).
Contact three professional references and ask them if you can list them on your application. Verify their contact information and job title(s).
If completing by hand, make sure you write neatly.
Always be honest. Lying on an application can result in immediate termination.
Make sure your application is complete (there are no blanks) and is signed.
Read over your application upon completion to make sure all information is spelled correctly and is accurate.
Follow up with the employer. If you do not hear back regarding your application after a reasonable amount of time, contact the employer and ask if they are still hiring for the position. If not, see if they keep resumes on file and if they expect to fill any other positions in the near future.
DEVELOPING YOUR RESUME
Your resume and cover letter are your personal marketing materials. Whether you are beginning a resume from scratch or are looking to update outdated application materials, we’ve put together general reminders to help you craft a solid resume that can easily be tailored to specific job listings moving forward.
ELEMENTS OF A RESUME
Contact Information – Always include contact information at the top of your resume so the employer will know how to contact you.
Skills f Include information on your skills within the top portion of the document, so the employer will know you are qualified.
Work History – Here is where you include any relevant work experience, including tasks you performed and overall duties and responsibilities for each position.
Education – Begin listing your education with your most recent/highest degree level obtained first. Consider including relevant course work and extracurricular clubs and activities.
WRITING AN EFFECTIVE COVER LETTER
The purpose of a cover letter is to capture the employer’s attention so they will spend more time reviewing your resume – with the ultimate goal of setting up an interview. Your cover letter can be used for two purposes: to inquire about job openings or to actually apply for specific job openings.
A cover letter should not be a mass-mailed, generic document. Rather, it should be addressed to a specific recipient, and if possible, should mention a specific job with the company.
PARTS OF A COVER LETTER
- Salutation – Address the letter to a specific person. Try to refrain from using Dear Sir/Madam or To whom it may concern.
- Introduction – Begin the letter by telling the employer what position you are applying for and how you heard about the opening.
- Body – The body of the letter should tell the employer why you are a good fit for the position. Give examples of your talents, but do not repeat your resume.
- Closing – In closing, request an interview and your willingness to answer any additional questions the employer may have.
- Signature – Sign the letter boldly with blue ink to show the employer the letter isn’t a photocopy.
PREPARING FOR YOUR INTERVIEW
Your strong application materials have resulted in an interview. Now what’s next?
Contrary to popular belief, preparation is key in an interview. Common perception is that you can’t prepare for an interview, because you do not know what questions the employer will ask. As it turns out, there are a number of important tips to follow to ensure you are prepared for your scheduled interview.
ASSISTANCE WITH EMPLOYMENT CHALLENGES
Everyone’s journey to employment is different. If you are in need of special assistance, the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) may be able to help. DRS helps those with physical or mental disabilities address barriers that may be interfering with their ability to prepare for or maintain employment.
Rehabilitation counselors are available to set up a free, individualized plan for employment that will outline the services needed to help you reach your employment goal.
For more information, visit: wvdrs.org
If you would like more help writing a resume, writing a cover letter, or preparing for a job interview, contact your nearest WorkForce office. WorkForce staff can assist you in every step of the job-seeking process.