Job Search and Placement Assistance

  • IMAGE IS EVERYTHING - Keep in mind that your job search is a sales campaign, with you as the product. Be sure that you present yourself positively in person, in print and on the telephone.

  • AVOID LEGAL PROBLEMS - If you signed a confidentiality agreement, a non-competitive contract, or any other form of binding legal document with your current employer, it would be wise to consult your attorney. Be sure you understand what you signed, and how that will affect your job search. It is in your best interests to avoid any potential legal problems.

  • ORGANIZE YOURSELF - Gather up all of your important professional papers, including college transcripts, continuing education and training certificates, job evaluations, award certificates and any other non-confidential sources of information regarding your accomplishments and responsibilities. Writing ability is an important skill, so it is a good idea to have samples of reports or proposals you have authored. Keep originals in a safe place. Copy the documents and keep them in your briefcase to present upon request.

  • GATHER REFERENCES - It is important to have several good professional references. Make sure to ask permission before listing anyone as a reference, and find out what that person is likely to say about you. It's also a good idea to get any especially important references in writing, since people do retire, move, and, well, die. If you are uncomfortable listing your current superior as a reference, find another co-worker or senior executive that will give you a positive reference.

  • TAME ANY HABITS - If you smoke, chew tobacco, chew gum constantly, or have other habits that may offend others, get them under control. We actually had a candidate go to an interview with a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth because he forgot! First impressions are very important.


Problems with telephone contact are surprisingly common. Even with the services offered by phone companies, and the convenience of cell phones and pagers, many candidates simply do not manage their phone contacts well. This is a skill that is vital to a successful job search.

  • LIST IT CORRECTLY - Be sure that the phone number listed on your resume is correct. If your location has had an area code change lately, and you haven't updated your resume, you may be missing some important calls. It's also amazing how often typographical errors creep into phone numbers.

  • MAKE SURE IT'S ANSWERED - There is simply no excuse in this modern world for a phone to ring on and on, unanswered. Digital and tape answering machines are cheap, phone companies offer voice mail service for a nominal fee, and there are even services to notify you of a call if you are using your phone line to access the Internet. Make sure you have a method to record and retrieve incoming phone messages. And while you are at it, be sure to listen to your answering machine or voice mail message. Cute or "humorous" messages can come across as annoying, immature, rude, or worse. A simple message is best, such as, "Hello, you have reached 555/555-5555. I am currently unavailable, but please leave a message."

  • TRAIN YOUR FAMILY - If you are in the middle of a job search, make sure you train your family to answer the phone courteously and competently. Remember that they are representing you. Keep pen and paper by each phone, and make sure that name, number and other information is written down for each call.

  • BE AVAILABLE - No, this does not mean you must be available 24/7. It does mean that if you can talk at work, then give the recruiter your work number for brief conversations, or for scheduling meetings or phone interviews. It also means listing your cell phone or pager number if those are the best ways to reach you.

  • RETURN CALLS - If a company or recruiter leaves a message for you, return it, even if you are not sure of your interest level. You never know how things will turn out, and a good contact now may lead to another job opportunity down the road. We have placed several candidates who had contacted us 2-3 years earlier, and had kept in touch from time to time.


Email is great, but it can cause a lot of problems. Handling emails properly is an essential skill that is vital to a successful job search.

  • GET IT RIGHT - Be sure that the email address listed on your resume, in your emails, and in your job board profile is correct. If a recruiter or employer gets an "undeliverable" message when attemtping to send you an email, that will be the end of things right there. Check it twice.

  • CHECK IT - Don't let weeks go by without checking your email. Time is of the essence, so make sure you stay on top of messages. Set up a special email just for your job search if necessary. Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, and many other free email services are available, and most internet providers offer several email accounts as part of their service.

  • BE POLITE - Treat every email message as if it were a live telephone call, but remember that the recipient has no way of knowing if your clever phrase is meant to be sarcastic, or offensive. Keep it neutral and strictly professional. Unfortunately, rude and poorly worded emails are very common, and can really short-circuit a job search.

  • DON'T USE ALL CAPS - Using all capital letters in your email messages is a rookie mistake. It's annoying, unprofessional, and it certainly doesn't give a good impression to the recipient. It's the equivalent of shouting, and it makes the message hard to read.

  • ATTACH IT RIGHT - Attach your resume and/or cover letter in MS Word, RTF or text format. Avoid PDF format and image files. Also, don't send .zip or executable files, since many anti-virus programs will block them. Keep in mind that AOL and some other providers will automatically zip multiple file attachments, so you may need to send the files one at a time.

  • DON'T FORWARD - Whatever you do, DO NOT forward any cute stories, articles, pictures or anything else that is not business related. This stuff is blanketing the Internet, and it really annoys anyone who has a business email account. If you send out mass emails, you will most likely get your email address blocked and your information deleted.

2009, All Rights Reserved. is a production of Donnelson and Bond Recruiting LLC, Council Bluffs, Iowa.