Finding Employment Guide

This guide outlines the steps you should take when applying to a job. There are organizations that run free job readiness programs, so you don’t need to do it on your own.  

If you’re interested in getting more training in a specific field before you start working, check out our Career Training Directory or our Guide to Career Training Programs.

If you are a NYC resident under the age of 24 or a current high school or college student and you're looking for entry level work experience, consider applying for Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), or check out our Student Opportunities page for other internships and job opportunities.

If you’re a teacher or counselor looking for resources on teaching work readiness in your classroom, you can find NVPS lesson plans here, or explore these resources created by the Department of Education's Office of Multilingual Learners.

This guide has sections for each step of the job search process, with videos, resources, tips, and tricks. Read through the whole guide, or use the links below to go to a specific section:


Jobs to Build On

If you want help finding job listings or preparing your materials, the Jobs to Build On program might be a good fit for you! Jobs to Build On provides help with resume and job search and is good if you don’t want a daily commitment.

To sign up: Find a provider near you on this list and reach out at the phone number provided to enroll!


NYC’s Workforce1 Centers help New Yorkers find and prepare for jobs, and their services are currently all online. The first step is to fill out a form online. Remember to check your email after you complete the form so you don’t miss information about scheduling an appointment! 

To sign up: Fill out this form or learn more here.

Train and Earn

If you’d like to be part of a program that will give you a paid internship while getting help building your resume, Train and Earn is a short (4-8 week) program that will give you entry-level certifications, a paid internship, and ongoing support.

To sign up: Find a provider near you on this list and go to the program’s website to learn how to sign up.

People w/ Disabilities

Did you know that there are programs that can support people with disabilities in finding a job? 

Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) provides job search, educational, and independent living services and supports that help people with disabilities achieve and maintain employment. You can also get general help understanding your options from the Transition & College Access Center (TCAC) in your local borough. If you’re interested in learning more about transition supports for students with disabilities, check out our guide.

To sign up: Your School Counselor will help you complete the ACCES-VR paperwork. If you’re having trouble with the process, contact IncludeNYC’s helpline.

For the TCACs, contact your local borough office:


Define your goals

Before you start your search, you should make a plan about what you’re looking for. 

Do you want work that’s part time or full time? 

Will you need to find a job that can fit around your school schedule? 

Do you want to find something in a field of interest so that you can move towards your long term career goals, or just earn some money?

If you’re not sure what you want to do for work, complete a Career Interest Survey to explore your interests, strengths and skills and see how those connect to potential careers and areas of study. 

If you want to learn more about different jobs or career pathways, we recommend CareerOneStop or Headed2.

If you’re having trouble answering these questions, the Support Organizations listed above can help you make a plan!

Get a professional email address

Make sure you have a professional email address to use for your job search - don’t use your high school email address unless you’re 100% sure you’ll have access to it after you graduate!

Here’s a guide for setting up an email account for your job search.

Now’s also a good time to brush up on your email etiquette.

Complete a resume

The first step for most job applications is to complete a resume. Remember, if you’re using a template, use your own words and experiences - don’t include anything that doesn’t apply to you.

This video has guidance for how to write a resume with limited or no experience.

Here are some helpful tips and resume templates you can start with.

If you want someone to review your resume or give you tips, your local library can help! Just walk in, or sign up for virtual help online:

Gather references

Some jobs will ask for 1-3 references that the employer can contact to learn more about your experience. Often, references are only contacted late in the hiring process, but you may have to provide them with your application. 

Your references should be people who know you well and who can talk about your strengths - but not your family members or friends. Some examples of good references might be a former boss, a teacher, or a coach, or a mentor. Make sure you contact your references to ask permission before listing them 

Learn more about how to ask someone to be a reference in this article.

Here’s a good tip sheet for how to put together a reference list.

Write a cover letter

You may be asked to complete a cover letter as part of a job application. The cover letter should be personalized for each job you’re applying for, because it’s a chance for you to share why you are a good fit for THIS role. Remember, if you’re using a template, make sure you use your own words and experiences. 

Use this guide to help you write a cover letter - it also has some templates you can use.

Your local library can also help you perfect a cover letter! Just walk in, or sign up for virtual help online:


Search for jobs

Many jobs are posted online - you can look for postings and sometimes apply with just one click. You can filter your search by location, full/part time, and level of experience. Use the links to the right to find general jobs, but if you’re interested in a specific career or field, you may be able to find job boards specific to your field. If you want to work at a specific company, you can also look at their website and see what jobs they have posted - look for a page called “Careers” or “working here.”

Watch this video to learn more about how to figure out if a job is right for you based on the job description.

The following websites are good starting places to look for jobs:

Here are some tips for how to use keywords to help you narrow down your search (refer back to the goals you set at the beginning of your search).

Use your network

Let your friends and caregivers know you’re looking for work and they may be able to connect you to people who are looking for employees. If you’re in any activities or community groups, your community there can also be a good resource - sometimes having a person refer you to a job can help get your application reviewed or get you an interview. If you want to work at a restaurant or store in your neighborhood, you can also walk in and ask if they’re hiring - sometimes they’ll have you fill out an application on the spot, so make sure you bring all of your materials with you.

Here are some tips for how to make networking work for you.

CC Image courtesy of Goyocashmerellc on Wikimedia

Learn more about how to walk in and ask for a job. 

Note: this can work well for retail jobs, but most office jobs will want you to apply online.

Complete applications

Once you find a job that is a good fit for you, it’s time to apply! Carefully read the job posting to find out how they want you to apply - sometimes you’ll fill out an online application directly on the company’s website, sometimes you’ll email in your materials, or sometimes you can directly apply through the job search website. 

Remember: you can apply for a job even if you don’t meet all of the qualifications - but make sure you don’t lie or exaggerate your experience on your application!

CC Image courtesy of the Gender Spectrum Collection

Here’s some good information about how to fill out a job application online.

Beware of scams

Unfortunately, when you’re looking for jobs online, you need to beware of scams - be careful about job postings that seem too good to be true! Remember - a good employer will never ask you to send them money or ask for copies of your personal documents before you are hired.

Watch this video or read this article to learn more about how to protect yourself.

If you encounter a scam online, you can report it to NYS by calling (518)-474-8583.

After you apply

Once you’ve submitted an application for a job, you should keep an eye on your email and phone for an invitation to interview - and see below for more tips about how to prepare for the next steps!

CC Image courtesy of the Gender Spectrum Collection

Make sure your voicemail is set up with a professional greeting - and remember to check your messages!

If someone in your network told you about the job, make sure to tell them you applied, but you do not need to follow up directly with the job to check on the status of your application - assume if they’re interested, they’ll contact you.

CC Image courtesy of World Bank Photo on Flickr

Finding construction or city jobs

Certain roles in government or trades have special processes to apply. For City (Civil Service) roles, most applications are a multi-step process, including a competitive exam. Each trade union has their own process, but many job paths start with an apprenticeship. 

To learn more about City (Civil Service) jobs, sign up for a webinar through the Office of Citywide recruitment or learn more by reading this cheat sheet.

For trade unions, learn more about the process with this guide or use our Career Training Directory to find apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships by filtering "field" by construction.


Prepare for an interview

For entry-level jobs, you will likely have 1-2 interviews before you are hired. This is an opportunity to show the employer that you are the best person for the job, so you should take some time in advance to practice your answers to common questions and research the company. An interview is also a chance for you to learn more about whether the job is a good fit for you - so come ready with some questions to ask.

Watch this video to learn more about how to prepare for interviews.

Here’s a list of the 20 most common interview questions so you can practice and use this guide to help you practice how you answer.

Read more about some of the questions for you to ask an interviewer to learn more about the job.

Day-of tips

If your interview is on the phone or online, find a quiet place without distractions to join the call. If it’s a video call, test your computer’s camera and audio - get set up in a place with a neutral background, or use a virtual background. For video or in-person interviews, make sure you’re dressed appropriately (this will depend on the role, but usually involves a button-down shirt or blouse and well-fitting, neutral bottoms). If you’re going in-person, map out your route in advance, and leave plenty of extra time - but don’t go into the company more than 15 minutes early!

Here’s a guide for how to prepare for a virtual interview.

CC Image courtesy of the Gender Spectrum Collection

Here’s a guide for how to make a good impression at your interview.

Learn more about how to dress for an interview with this guide.

What to expect after your interview

At the end of the interview, the interviewer should tell you the timeline for next steps, and if they don’t, it’s okay to ask - but remember, hiring often takes much longer than expected! Depending on the job, you might have another interview, or they might call your references. After you’ve completed an interview, make sure you follow up with a thank you note - email is the best way to do this. Once you’ve sent that follow up, you don’t need to do anything else - the employer will contact you if they want to move you forward! While you’re waiting to hear back, keep searching for and applying to other jobs!

CC Image courtesy of the Gender Spectrum Collection

Here’s a guide for writing a thank you email after the interview. Remember - if you're starting with a template, only include information that applies to you!

Here’s more information about what to expect after you interview, including what you should consider if you want to follow up.

CC Image courtesy of Alexander Suhorucov on Pexels

Getting a job offer

Once an employer wants to hire you, they’ll make you an offer of employment. If they offer you the job over the phone or in an email message, they’ll likely follow up with a formal letter that states your hours, wage, first day, and any important conditions of the offer (for example, the offer might be contingent on the results of a background check.). Once you’ve gotten the offer, it’s important to let the employer know you’ve received it, but it’s okay to take a couple of days to consider it - and if you still have questions about the job, or if you have any concerns about the offer, now is the best time to ask! Once you feel sure about the job, notify the employer that you want to accept the offer - they’ll likely give you more information about what you need to do to prepare.

Here’s more information about what to expect in an offer letter and what you need to do when you get one.

CC Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Once you’re ready to accept, read this guide for how to respond to an offer.

If the employer will be doing a background check, learn more about what to expect with this guide. 


CC Image courtesy of the Gender Spectrum Collection

Get ready for the first day

Once you’ve accepted a job offer and set a starting date, you can start getting ready. Plan your commute, figure out how to balance your work schedule with other responsibilities, and make sure you have the right wardrobe (if you haven’t asked about dress code before, now’s the time). You’ll also have to fill out paperwork when you start - the employer is legally required to collect copies of your passport or ID, and may ask for bank information to set up direct deposit.

Here’s a list of things to keep in mind as you transition from job hunting into a job.

Here’s a guide for having a successful first day.

Use this first day checklist to keep yourself organized.

Workplace norms

Different jobs can have very different cultures and expectations, so the most important thing is to learn the expectations for your workplace by observing and asking questions. This is a good time to practice your active listening and ask for support when you need it! 

Watch this video to learn more about how to succeed in a new job.

CC Image courtesy of the Gender Spectrum Collection

Here are some tips on professional expectations in the workplace.

Here are some tips for how to find and benefit from a mentor to help you develop in your career.

CC Image courtesy of Blogtrepreneur on Flickr

Know your rights

Every worker in New York City, regardless of industry and immigration status, has the right to sick and safe leave, the right to be paid minimum wage, the right to be compensated for overtime work, the right to organize, the right to a discrimination-free workplace, and the right to a safe and healthy workplace. If you work in fast food or retail, you also have rights related to your shifts. Additionally, if you have a disability, you have the right to request reasonable accommodations in your workplace. 

Learn about all of your rights in NYC’s Workers Bill of Rights.

If you work in fast food or retail you have the right to a predictable schedule - read these flyers to learn more! 

To learn more about reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, read this guide or contact one of our support organizations.


CC Image courtesy of Cytonn Photography on Pexels

Required paperwork

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder), or a refugee/asylee , you are eligible to work in the U.S., and employers are required to verify your eligibility by looking at your documents - you should be prepared to provide documents that prove your identity and your immigration status when you start a new job, as well as fill out an I-9 form. Additionally, if you are under the age of 18, you will be required to provide working papers, even if you have graduated high school. 

Learn more about what documents you will be required to provide on this list.

If you are under 18, learn more about the requirements for working papers.

CC Image courtesy of Camosun College on Flickr

For immigrants and non-citizens

If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible to work because of your immigration status, there are organizations that can help you! Contact these legal organizations, call ActionNYC at 800-354-0365, or check out our resources below for specific situations.

The New York State Youth Leadership Council’s comprehensive non-citizen’s guide to entrepreneurship has information about what you need to know, and where to get more help. They also often hold events for immigrant youth - so check out what’s coming up and register if it looks interesting.

CC Image courtesy of Victoria Pickering on Flickr

If you want to know more about your right to work with DACA, check out this guide!

If you are a non-citizen and you have or are getting an ITIN for tax purposes, you can learn more with this webinar.

CC Image courtesy of Thomas Leuthard on Flickr

For justice-involved job seekers

Being involved in, accused of, or affected by a crime doesn’t have to keep you from following the path that you want to be on. In New York City, criminal history can’t be part of the hiring process until after a job offer - employers can’t ask about your record or run a background check until after a conditional offer of employment. Additionally, unless you are applying to be a police or peace officer, you never have to tell an employer about any arrests where you were not convicted, or about any sealed convictions. 

To learn more about your rights, and what an employer can and can’t ask of you during the hiring process, check out this guide.

To get more resources and find support, reach out to one of the organizations listed here.

If you believe an employer violated New York City’s Fair Chance law, call 311 and ask for the Commission on Human Rights.

Contact Me!

Robin Blanc

Career Readiness Strategy