1. Review your job history

2. Identify your knowledge, skills and abilities

3. Tell your story, remain ‘POSITIVE’

4. Learn how and where to look for job leads

5. Spend 2 to 3 hours a day on your job search

6. Follow up on all contacts

Identifying Your Knowledge, Skills & Abilities

Employers want to know what you do well, enjoy doing and want to do in the future. They need to know why they should hire you. In order for you to be able to answer these questions for an employer, it is necessary that you identify and talk about your knowledge, skills and abilities.

It is difficult for most people to talk about their skills. In fact, almost 90% of people who are interviewed for jobs are unable to clearly state what their skills are. It is essential to your job search to know specifically what you can offer to an employer. Even though you have the necessary skill for a job, you may not get hired if you cannot communicated to an employer that you have those skills and that you are able to do them well.

Knowledge is something you have learned from education, training or experience. A skill is something you can do. An ability is a special talent or even a personality quality that you have. Knowing what your knowledge, skills and abilities are will help you:

* Find jobs that match you
* Interview more effectively
* Write a better resume
* Fill out applications properly
* Focus your job search
* Make satisfying career choices
* Increase your self confidence
* Decide if a job is right for you

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a report defining the skills that employers identified as necessary for employment. This was known as the SCANS report. The report divided skills into two areas, competencies and foundations. The competencies and foundation skills defined by SCANS are required for most jobs. A detailed description of each is found in the JobSearch Guide, SCANS Competencies. They are:

1. Foundation Skills: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Mathematics, Listening, Speaking, Creative Thinking, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Self Esteem, Reasoning, Responsibility, Self-Management, Social Abilities, Integrity/Honesty

2. Competencies: Allocates Time, Allocates Money, Allocates Material and Facility Resources, Allocates Human Resources, Acquires and Evaluates Information, Organizes and Maintains Information, Interprets and Communicates Information, Uses Computers to Process Information, Participates as Member of a Team, Teaches Others, Serves Clients/Customers, Exercises Leadership, Negotiates to Arrive at a Decision, Works with Cultural Diversity, Understands Systems, Monitors and Corrects Performance, Improves and Designs Systems, Selects Technology, Applies Technology to Task, Maintains and Troubleshoots Technology.

Possessing a single exceptional skill does not make you special.

It is your combination of average and above average skills that makes you special.

Being able to accurately shoot the basketball through the net does not make an exceptional basketball player if the player cannot run fast, jump high, dribble the ball or get along with their fellow players.

Remember, you are the only person in the world who has your unique set of skills.

Emphasize your special combination of skills on your resume and in your job interviews.

Being well prepared for a job interview will increase your chances of receiving a job offer.

When you are well prepared for the interview, you will come across as self-confident and assured.

Preparation lets you take care of the details ahead of time, minimizes the effects of Murphy’s Law (“Whatever can you wrong, will go wrong”) and allows you to focus on the task at hand – landing that job.

Think about your agenda

Know what points you want to get across. You don’t want to take over the interview, but make sure they know what you can bring to the job.

Fuel up

Put gas in the car. Have a map of the area handy in case you are forced to take an alternative route. If using public transportation, make sure you have change or tokens, and a schedule.

Get your money together

Have enough cash to pay for phones, public transportation and snack machines.

Pick out your clothes

Decide on the outfit you will be wearing to the interview. Choose conservative clothing. Make sure your clothes are clean, fresh and pressed. Iron them if necessary, and shine your shoes. Lay out clothes and shoes the night before.

Set your alarm clock

Synchronize your alarm clock and watch with the correct time, then set the alarm. Use a wind-up or battery powered alarm clock as back-up in case you lose electrical power during the night.

Get a good night’s rest

You’ll want to be at your best for the interview, so a sound night’s sleep will ensure that you are clear-headed and sharp as a tack.

Assemble your materials

Organize the materials you’ll be taking with you.

Use a clean folder for:
* Resume (enough copies for the interviewer and/or interview team, plus one for yourself)
* Letters of recommendation
* List of questions you want to ask
* Memo pad
* Business cards
* Portfolio, if necessary for the job
* Two (2) pens

Personal hygiene

Shower, shave, use deodorant and clean fingernails. Avoid excessive amounts of aftershave or perfume. Also, do not drink alcohol or eat unusual or garlicky foods before the interview. Take along some breath mints that you can pop in 15 minutes before the interview.

Review your materials

If it has been awhile since you have really looked at your resume and other materials, do so. Nothing is more embarrassing than forgetting something you included in your own materials. This will also help you present your qualifications succinctly and accurately.


Use your favorite music, take a deep breath or use relaxation techniques to stay calm and collected, and put yourself in a positive frame of mind. You want to appear calm, confident and self-assured.

There are no second chances on first impressions!

You’ve certainly seen people who not matter where they are or what they are doing, they just look great. They always have the look. Many would say that they have a knack for dressing, for looking correct at all times.

How you appear to your potential employer may very well determine whether or not they interviewer will consider you for a position within their organization. First impressions often influence the interviewers attitude toward you.

This knack sounds so mysterious…it’s very simple if you have the NAC! And when you are done with this Brief, you will have the NAC. You will look top notch, making the best first impressions! The NAC is as simple as this – you must be:

N eat,
A ppropriate and
C lean.

It is nothing more, nothing less.

There is no question that ex-offenders face many challenges in their job search.

The biggest hurdle they face is the prejudice by some employers toward ex-offenders. How the ex-offender job seeker reacts to and defuses this prejudice will determine how successful they are in securing meaningful employment.

The Process is the Same

The process, the steps to securing meaningful employment, is the same for ex-offenders as it is for non-offenders. This JobSearch Guide will focus only on those issues that are unique to the ex-offender. The job-seeker is directed to all of the other JobSearch guides for information on the process.

Negative Thoughts

The biggest obstacle to a successful job search is you. You have been in prison and prison is harsh. It has made you feel worthless, paranoid, hopeless and alone. You distrust most people, the system and yourself. It is easy to convince yourself that what you feel is the way things really are…that you really are worthless. To move forward you must question the origin and validity of each belief. Am I really not very smart? Should I really never trust another person? Is it true that everyone is out to get me? These are all negative thoughts and negative thoughts are cancerous.

Attitude and Desire

Attitude and desire are the two most important factors in your job search. If you really don’t want to succeed, you won’t, plain and simple. The world is full of talented people who failed because they didn’t have the desire to succeed. Conversely, there are millions of stories of average and below average people who accomplished a great deal because they wanted to succeed. Doubt and negativity are killers. You can control your attitude! It takes practice and desire. Successful ex-offenders turn the negative attitude, I can’t into I can. They constantly tell themselves that they can attain their chosen goal. They abandon the negative talk of prison for the positive attitude of successful people.

1. Using only one job search method 2. Being unorganized 3. Not having a schedule 4. Having a negative attitude 5. Low self-esteem 6. Putting things off until tomorrow 7. Spending a small amount of time on the job search 8. Being unprepared for the job interview 9. Being mentally of physically unfit 10. Poor hygiene/grooming 11. Applying for jobs for which you are not qualified 12. Not having realistic goals 13. Lack of ability to communicate your knowledge, skills and abilities. 14. Lack of ability to adapt or change your job search 15. Not maintaining records of your job search 16. Unreliable references 17. Lack of flexibility 18. Looking for openings, not opportunities 19. Not keeping everyone you know updated on your job search 20. Leaving a poor paper trail