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Getting A Job

Stepping Into Your Career

Cafe Owners

Your Goal: Get Employed

Remember - The goal of all your hard work is to get employed. You want a career that can support you and your future. To do this, you need the skills to add value that will provide employers with what they need to make them want to hire you. 

What Employers Look For

Employers are looking for people with knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes to help them achieve business goals. Employees are hired to help make things, sell things, work with customers, and more.

  • Employers want to pay for someone who adds value to what they do.

  • You're not the only one looking for a job. You will need to stand out to get that job. 

  • It takes work, effort, and skill to be successful. There are no shortcuts. 

  • The sooner you start, the further ahead you get. Let's help you get the tools you need. 


Skills are measured by what you can demonstrate to your employer. 

Types of Employability Skills

You need 3 kinds of skills to be successful in today's workplace. 


Getting along with others, communicating, working as a team, resolving conflict, goal setting, and helping achieve company goals are critical skills.


Employers have expectations of what employees must know, be, and do to be successful in today's workplace. These will be important during the job application, interviews, and employment. 


You need to be good at what you do. Specialized education, training, and experience in a trade or profession can help you get ahead. 

Let's explore what it takes. 

Business Meeting

Soft Skills

No matter your job, people skills help you succeed. They help you work with others, communicate, participate as a team, and work to achieve goals. You problem-solve, come to work on time, resolve conflict, contribute to the solution, and jump in where needed. Employers say...

  • "We hire employees based on personality and soft skills first, job qualifications second..."

  • "Communication is more important than technical skills."

  • "Employees must understand how to think about the entire business and contribute to the bottom line."

  • "We need employees to be innovative partners as a part of the business. Their wages and benefits depend on us making a profit. If we're not profitable, we can't pay them."

  • "Customer service, expectations (coming to work on time, dressing appropriately), and professionalism often lack. They are also the main reasons we fire people."

Employment Skills

Hands-On Experience

Employers also say that new employees are much more marketable and attractive if they have practical experience when they apply for a job. This comes from having worked at a job. Any work experience is a benefit.  

  • "Some experience like ​an internship is critical."

  • "Students can benefit from ride-along, job shadows, or similar experiences to gain job exposure."

  • "Manufacturers would like to see graduates with experience where they work with machines."

  • "It's important for colleges to provide fellowships, externships, residencies, and similar programs to help students transition from student to employee. 

How Can I Improve my Employability?

As a student, you can gain skills from:

  • Working part-time jobs.

  • Take advantage of youth apprenticeships or pre-apprenticeship programs. 

  • Contact the public library about free classes to improve basic work skills such as computer skills.

  • Contact WorkSource to learn about courses available and programs to help improve skills. 

  • Review Occupational and Employability Skills for more ways to develop your strengths. 

  • Find employers willing to let you job shadow or tour their facilities to learn more about jobs. 

  • Find businesses willing to let you join them when attending Chamber of Commerce functions to network. 

  • Join clubs at school that include simulations and skills development, such as DECA, FBLA, FFA, and others. 

Construction Workers
Workers with Safety Vests

Occupational or Technical Skills

Identify competencies, knowledge, and skills needed to be successful in specific careers and industries.  Check out specific skills based on the types of industry you are looking for.  See the links in the section below for additional information.  

Consider these competencies and skills needed as you identify careers and industries. 


Industry leaders among manufacturing employers have provided guidance on the top skills and competencies they look for and have identified in their top employees.  Here are resources to help you see what they look for. 

Advanced Manufacturing

This link takes you to a "competency clearinghouse" that provides an overview of the most commonly sought-after skills among manufacturers. 


Automation professionals can differentiate themselves with these top competencies. 


This links to competencies sought after among top aerospace employers. 


This links you to the competency model for mechatronics-related careers. 

STEM Careers

Learn more about the demand for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills in Washington.  Consider the following resources: 

Skills for ANY Industry

Want to learn more about opportunities to develop your skills? Here are a few other resources you may consider. 

Washington Career Bridge

Find Careers, Explore Job Trends, and Identify Education and Post-High School training options that can prepare you for your future employment opportunities. 

Washington Workforce Portal (AWB - Association of Washington Business)

A portal for students to find resources for employment, career development, and opportunity to prepare for their futures. 

Career Explore NW

Learn about several careers and employers. Watch videos that show a "day in the life" of several careers from employers around the State of Washington. 

Information on Education (Higher Education)

If you are thinking of college or university, here is a resource to learn more about programs, institutions, and ways to pay for college. We cover more on our page about Education but click here to discover more from the State of Washington about the resources available to you.

Skills Centers

Want to work on your career training BEFORE finishing high school? Consider enrolling in a program if you are near a Skills Center. Learn more by following this link. 

Learn About an Occupation: Washington State ESD (Employment Securities Division)

Find out more information about careers that are in demand around the state. 

O*NET Career Exploration Tools (U.S. Department of Labor)

Identify options and resources that may help you develop resources and skills needed for your career choice. 

Report: Pathways to Great Jobs in the State of Washington

Download the PDF report on jobs available in the State of Washington for students. 

Asian woman having a job interview
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