Job Search Competence

Job search competency for an individual includes having the skills, abilities and knowledge needed to identify and secure employment, such as:

  • Knowledge of personal and professional strengths, skills, interests and values
  • Development of realistic short- and long-term career goals
  • Ability to plan and organize a job-search strategy (including managing transportation, childcare and other issues)
  • Skills in outreach to appropriate employers 
  • Ability to tap personal and professional networks
  • Ability to effectively complete employment applications 
  • Ability to present oneself in a professional manner
  • Ability to promote one’s skills and strengths through a cover letter, résumé and interview
  • Ability to effectively explain gaps in employment history
  • Ability to do effective follow-up on employer contacts and interviews

Programs can help their participants monitor progress in these areas by making use of a checklist such as the one provided here. Some programs require that all items on a checklist be completed before a participant is referred to job leads that the program has received. It is important that staff and participants alike understand how such a checklist will be used to support a successful job search.

Other tools, such as a rating sheet for mock interviews, can be used by staff or business volunteers to help participants assess and strengthen their skills in effectively presenting themselves in an interview. Programs should also review these ratings to look for patterns. Are there areas where participants are consistently rated lower? Where is more staff attention needed? A sample mock interview rating form is included here.