How to start a job search

Getting organized for a job search

NC Works LogoNC DHHS Logo


A job search is a never easy and takes a lot of time, focus as well as a positive attitude.   It can be made less frustrating by getting organized at the start.  


The first step is to ensure you have access to or have thought about some items you will need to be successful:


  • Identification – Some examples include a driver’s license/ID Card, passport, Military ID

  • Social Security Card

  • Resume

  • References – have a list of at least three people who can talk positively about your skills and work ethic.

  • Phone or a way to receive messages from potential employers

  • Email address – make sure it is a professional looking address. Someone with the address, for example, may not be looked upon as a quality candidate.

  • Transportation – How will you get to/from an interview and report to work daily

  • Clothes for an interview and for work


The second step is to understand experience, skill, and abilities that you possess and how you can bring these to a potential employer. There are major types of skills: Hard Skills, Soft Skills, and Essential Employability Skills.


  • Hard Skills – These are also known as job specific skills and the ones that are required depend on your job interest.  They are skills you have learned through both formal as well as informal training and/or work experience

  • Soft Skills – These are skills you have gained throughout your life that can be used in your job.  Many employers report that transferrable/soft skills are a major key to long term success for potential employees.

  • Essential Employability Skills - These are a set of defined expectations and competencies for career readiness. The essential employability skills provide a “common language” to guide and demonstrate identification, evaluation, and development for career readiness and successful employment. These are common skills employers seek in new hires: Communications, Ethics, Problem Solving, Professionalism, Resource Management, and Teamwork.  


What are your top ten skills?  Use the ‘Identifying Your Skills’ worksheet, which includes examples of both Hard and Transferrable/Soft Skills, to help you think about the skills you currently possess and the skills that you may need to work on developing to achieve your career goals.

Thinking about all these items before you start a job search can be overwhelming.  You can use the assessments on , or get one-on-one assistance from professional career counselors  through your local NCWorks Career Center. If you are a current student or alumni of a NC Community College or University, you can also reach out to the appropriate career center