Career Success Planner

The Illinois State Board of Education, which adopted a definition of college and career readiness, printed the following description: “although readiness includes being prepared to take credit-bearing post-secondary courses in core subject areas, Illinois’ college- and career-readiness objectives also extend to developing employability skills and opportunities for students to pursue a personalized education plan, based on their academic and career interests” (U.S. Department of Education, 2014).

Career Services, alongside Marketing & PR, have developed a Career Success Planner to ensure we are providers of career readiness. Utilizing the Career Success Planner will allow users to help students organize their career development process. The purpose of creating a career plan is to encourage students to explore and gather information while moving forward academically. Gathering information enables goal setters to synthesize, gain competencies, make decisions, and take action!

A crucial phase of student development is to create sound goals while aligning with resources that help prospective graduates across the finish line. Please take the time to help students with career preparedness and organization.


What’s the goal of a great resume?

To showcase your skills, education, and experience and help you get an interview. You will never get a chance to wow an employer with your excellent interview skills if you never get invited! Check out the links and resources on this page to help you build or improve your resume.

What are the most important things to remember when creating a resume?

  • Edit! Always use spelling/grammar check AND have at least two people proofread your resume.
  • Your resume should be tailored to every position in which you are applying.
  • Keywords- use phrases and words from the job posting to illustrate that you have requested skills.
  • Transferable skills – these are skills that are used in many different types of jobs and careers.
  • Easy to read- white space, bullets, easy-to-scan headings. In a first review, employers spend approximately 6 seconds looking at a resume!

Cover Letters

What is a cover letter and how is it different than a resume?

  • A brief introduction to who you are, why you are applying, and why you would be a good fit for the job
  • More personal, conversational, and detailed than a resume

Why is it needed?

  • A practical and customized letter shows off your writing skills and attributes and indicates your interest in the job
  • Cover Letters can explain things a resume cannot (for example, gaps in employment, willingness to move)

When is it needed?

  • (almost) Always
    • Include a customized cover letter even if it is not asked for
    • Exceptions: if a posting says to not include one, or if there is not an upload option through an online application

What should a cover letter include?

Review this short document to help you get started:

Cover Letters

Helpful Information


What are the most important things to remember when it comes to interviewing?

  • Do your homework- research the company/business so that you are informed about who they are- their mission, what they do, and current projects.
  • Prepare some questions that you will ask the interviewer(s). Having questions prepared shows that you cared and did your research.
  • Practice interviewing by using some of the tools listed below and answering questions with a mentor, career services, or other professional. I highly recommend the interview practice available through Illinois WorkNet Optimal Resume Career & Talent Suite.
  • Have answers prepared for common interview questions.
  • Dress appropriately
  • Carry a portfolio or briefcase with copies of your resume, references, questions you want to ask the interviewer(s), business cards if you have them, something to write with and on, and other essentials that you may need (for example: allergy season?- bring tissues, wearing pantyhose?- bring an extra pair)

What is an elevator pitch?

A quick speech (the typical length of an elevator ride, hence the name) that highlights who you are, what you do, and what you want to do.

Helpful Information

Create a free account on Illinois WorkNet to link to Optimal Resume where you can access the Interview Practice (and other great tools)!

The Interview module allows you to control all aspects of your interview practice session, including the interview type, the number of questions, your response format, and the interviewer.

Don’t forget about the ‘thank you’ note!

When the interview is over, don’t just breathe a sigh of relief and move on.  Follow-up with a thank you note (email is perfectly fine in almost all situations).  Check out the following video for more information on the importance and content of a thank you note.

Job Search Sites

Check out some of the best job search boards and engines and use the ones that are the best fit for you.

  1. Career Builder is a large job board that has job postings, allows you to upload your resume, and has some useful advice on job searching.
  2. LinkUp contains verified, up-to-date job listings directly from employer websites.
  3. Indeed has millions of job postings and you can create an account to apply to jobs, set up job alerts, and search through the mobile app.
  4. On glassdoor you can explore job postings and see company ratings and salary information.
  5. On USAJobs you can search and apply for federal jobs.
  6. Learn more about Americorps programs!
  7. For more information, check out the Job Search Engine Guide available on the Zety career site blog
  8. LinkedIn is a networking site where you can search for jobs, follow companies you are interested in, provide samples of your work, and more.  Check out the video for tips to use LinkedIn for job searching.
  9. You can create a profile on ZipRecruiter to search for thousands of jobs.  It will remember your job preferences and send you alerts when jobs are posted.
  10. At College Recruiter you can find internships, part-time & full-time jobs, and entry-level positions.  There is also a wealth of information to help you with your job search.
  11. Illinois workNet provides a wide variety of tools to job seekers, including resume and cover letter builder, interview practice, and access to job opportunities in the state.
  12. Go to to search for and apply to State of Illinois employment opportunities.

Additional Helpful Links