by Rachel Vilsack

For the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with great guest contributors to provide you, our blog readers, with articles on job search and career resources. I’ve clearly paid attention to their advice. I recently landed a new job, which I officially start today! From writing a resume, to finding references, interviewing and following up, here’s the advice that I took from this blog.


Resume and References

In full disclosure, it’s been some time (okay, 12 years) since I had a complete resume and list of professional references.  I reviewed resume tips on ISEEK and came up with a format that I felt best exemplified my skills. I even included my volunteer experiences on my resume, which highlight some leadership skills I’ve developed outside of my professional experience. I remembered reading Claire Nelligan’s advice on how to choose references and how to set my references up for success. I contacted three people individually and asked permission to use them as professional references. As a follow up, I shared the job description and a copy of my resume with them. I even noted how I thought they could speak to my skill sets, reminding them of recent projects we’d worked on. (It was great fun to follow-up with a personal thank you letter letting them know that I got the job!)


Interview Prep

When I found out I made it through the first screening process, I began to prepare for the interview. Paul Sears highlighted some common interview questions, which I reviewed.  I also created a career portfolio to share with the interviewees that highlight work I was particularly proud of, including this blog. I even took my own advice and researched the office and read over annual reports and other material I thought important to inform my answers to interview questions.


Interview Day and Follow-Up

I wanted to make a good impression during the interview, so I read over some common interview tips. I made sure to arrive a few minutes early with all my materials ready. I was recently a part of an interview panel, so I knew what impressed me in the job interview.  When the inevitable question – “Do you have any questions for me?” – came up, I was ready with well thought out questions that helped me identify the company culture and how it related to my workplace values.


Mark Anthony Zappa talked about trust and building a relationship with a potential employer. He wrote “The more we know about that employer and their needs, the better we can respond to their needs. The stronger our relationship, the more trust is built.” I made sure to close my interview with how I thought my skill set and strengths could benefit the employer. Even if they didn’t hire me, I was planting the seed of trust.


It was very important for me to follow-up with my interview panel.  I sent hand-written thank you notes to all those involved, even to the person who greeted me and walked me to the interview room. I reinforced that I wanted the job.


A few days later, I received an offer.


The Future

I am looking forward to my new job and continuing to serve you by providing relevant and timely tips on career, education and employment resources.


 Rachel Vilsack is a principal planner with Minnesota’s Dislocated Worker and Trade Adjustment Assistance program.