Preparing for Jobs

Preparation is key when it comes to landing a good job. In this section, you’ll find helpful tips and links to tools you can use as you begin your job search. Your local Idaho Department of Labor office offers many additional resources, including support from career planners, to help you get a job and prepare to rejoin the workforce.

Applying for Jobs

Take some time to think about the process you’ll use to find and apply for jobs. Where will you look and what kinds of materials will you need to apply? Use this list to think through some of the possibilities:

  • Develop a resume and reference list and consider making a master list of details you’ll need to fill out job applications (past addresses, school names and addresses, previous jobs and dates of employment)
  • Contact friends, relatives and acquaintances for job leads
  • Develop a script to use when calling potential employers to introduce yourself and inquire about employment opportunities. Make practice calls before getting started
  • Make time to visit the Department of Labor regularly to work with career planners and explore updated job listings
  • Review job listings on Idaho Works and other job posting boards daily
  • Commit to accepting any interview offered
  • Research potential employers before an interview so you are familiar with their business. Prepare a handful of questions to ask them about the company or the job as it shows the interviewer you’re interested in learning more
  • Make time to visit the Department of Labor regularly to work with career counselors and explore updated job listings
  • Follow-up on contacts and interviews by thanking them for their time and consideration and inquiring if they have any additional questions for you

For additional support, visit your local Idaho Department of Labor office. Career planners offer one-on-one support and can assist you with:

  • Career information and consulting
  • Career assessment inventories
  • Personalized application, resume and cover letter assistance
  • Labor market information
  • Information on local and regional job fairs

Writing a Resume

Putting together a professional resume is important when you are applying for jobs. If you don’t already have one, you can use the Idaho Department of Labor’s online resume wizard or create one on your own. Resumes don’t have to look slick; they just need to include all of the important information about your work and education history.

When writing a resume, be sure to include:

  • Your name, address, and contact information (usually phone and email address)
  • Education history: High school and beyond (school name, last completed year, and any diploma, degree, or certification received)
  • Work history (usually your last three jobs, dates of employment, and a short description of the work you did there)
  • A list of awards/honors/volunteer work – anything that shows your interests and achievements

To use the Idaho Works resume wizard, you’ll need to create an account.


By this point, you have probably already disclosed information about your criminal record on a job application. But if not, use this opportunity to briefly cover the issue with your potential employer. Once you have put your history out in the open, you can move on to telling them about your strengths, how you can help meet their needs, and your goals for the future. Focus on talking about what you can add to the business and the steps you’ve made for personal growth during and since your incarceration.

Interview Preparation

When it’s time to head to your interview, there is a lot you can do to help increase your chances of landing the job. Here are some tips to consider before the big day:

  • Research the company beforehand so you are familiar with their work
  • Prepare extra copies of your resume to hand out
  • Practice answers to common interview questions
  • Dress appropriately! Dress one step above how you would expect others to dress for the interview. Cover tattoos and body piercings as much as possible.
  • Arrive 5-10 minutes early
  • Speak clearly and calmly
  • Stay positive
  • Tell them you want the job
  • Inform them of the Idaho Bonding program and the Idaho Work Opportunity Tax Credit (find more information on this in the Reentry Handbook)
  • Be prepared to ask them a few questions at the end of the interview about what to expect if you were offered this position
  • Thank them for their time and the opportunity to meet

After the Interview

You want your interviewers to remember your conversation and the positive feelings they had after meeting you. There are a few things you can do after the interview to stand out from the other interviewees.

  • Send a thank you letter expressing your appreciation for their time and consideration
  • Follow up with them as directed (ask “How/when can I follow up?” at the end of your interview
  • Reflect on your interview. Ask yourself what went well and what you could improve on for next time
  • If you are not offered the job, ask the employer if they can provide you feedback on why you were not selected for the position. Listen openly, do not argue with their comments, and accept their feedback with grace.

For more preparation tips and insights, explore the Maximize Your Job Search guide from the Idaho Department of Labor.