FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Searching for a job is a process and it can sometimes be a lengthy one.
It involves drawing on skills you've developed over time, including reflection, research, planning, writing, speaking, problem solving and self-advocacy.

You can be successful in the job search, but it will take a reasonable investment of time and energy.
Identify your skills and interests.
Here are some tips to help you with the process.

Develop your documents.
Research possible job opportunities.
Utilize your network.
Fine tune your documents and submit applications.
Keep track of everything.
Prepare for interviews.
Follow up.
Prepare to negotiate and accept an offer.
Learn about being successful in the workplace.

• Step 1 -- Identify and analyze your skills, values and interests. The first step in a successful job search is to think about what you want to do and how well your skills, values and interest align with the expectations of the job.

Take a skills assessment to assist with what career field you want to be in. Determine if you need to gain any additional skill sets or experiences to make you more competitive in the job search process, e.g., licenses or credentials.

• Step 2 -- Develop your documents and fine tune your social media presence. You will need to have a great resume that you will later change for each specific job. Work on writing your cover letters.
Be prepared to submit a personal statement or for letters of recommendation if requested, some employers ask for them.

Review your social media accounts, e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to make sure the image you present online is representative of how you want to be seen by prospective internship sites and other professionals.

• Step 3 -- Research the kinds of jobs that are out there that match your interests and skill set. Focus your job search by identifying prospective employers by field of interest and geographic area.

• Step 4 -- Utilize your network. Employers and job seekers affirm that networking is the most powerful tool you can use to find a job. Many opportunities are filled by candidates known by the employer through networking contacts. Your networking contacts can also help you fine-tune your documents before you submit them for consideration.

• Step 5 -- Tailor your documents to fit each job posting you are interested in and then submit your applications. In addition to submitting applications electronically or via mail, you might also try attending a job fair. We can help prepare you with how to handle a job fair.

• Step 6 -- Maintain an organizational structure and keep at it. An organizational structure will help you keep track of your network of contacts, dates and follow up information.

Examples of things to track are jobs you applied for, dates you applied for the jobs and when to make follow up contacts, dates and times of interviews, names of people to network with, dates of follow up contacts made, who you spoke with and weekly or monthly goals.

Following up after you have submitted your application can be helpful. We have some tips for professional communication etiquette here. If the organization has requested no calls or no emails, follow its instructions. Be patient and adhere to the request.

• Step 7 -- Prepare for Interviews and practice marketing yourself. Even if you've been successful in interviewing for college admission, fellowships and summer work or service, this is a different type of interview. Practice, practice, practice!

Make sure you have the appropriate professional attire.

Many interviews will also involve a meal, so make sure you brush upon your dining etiquette.

• Step 8 -- Follow up after the interview. We have some tips for professional communication etiquette here. Following up with an employer after an interview or even after submitting your application is something many job seekers are reluctant to do because they think it could be viewed as pestering.

However, if done professionally, following up can demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest.

If the organization has requested no calls or no emails, follow the instructions.

Be patient. For most employers, jobs take months to fill -- what may feel like a very long time to wait for you, may be lightning speed for an organization.

• Step 9 -- Do your homework to decide if you will accept an offer or not and be prepared to negotiate if necessary. You may want to create a list of pros and cons to help you determine if the job is a good fit for what you want to be doing.

• Step 10 -- When you are ready to start, remember to do what you need to do to stay hired and make sure you are prepared to be a successful professional at the workplace. Learn more about workplace etiquette and professional attire.

For more information on the job search process, call the Fort Rucker Soldier for Life Center at 255-2558.