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Employment Pathway

The Employment Pathway involves a paid work agreement between an employer and employee.

Students who choose the Employment Pathway must submit an employment offer letter or confirmation of continuation of employment as evidence of their plan to meet the Learn.Plan.Succeed. graduation requirement.

How to Pursue This Pathway

It is important to consider whether you’re interested in a job or a career in order to plan your professional goals. It is likely that you will hold several jobs throughout your career.

What is a job?

A job is work you do to earn money to support your basic needs; it pays the bills. It can be full-time or part-time. You might earn an hourly wage or a set paycheck. Benefits such as retirement plans, pensions and other incentives may or may not be available. An employer may require you to learn specific skills, but not all jobs require a specialized degree or advanced training. (Source: Indeed Career Guide)

What is a career?

A career is a long-term professional journey shaped by your professional goals and ambitions. To achieve a career, you may have to earn specialized credentials, accomplish varying levels of education or degrees, and seek training or periodic upskill throughout a lifetime. Individuals pursuing careers often have set salaries, room to advance, increasing earning potential, and benefits such as retirement plans, pensions and other incentives. (Source: Indeed Career Guide)

Are there “good jobs” for workers with a high school diploma or less?

Good jobs for workers with a high school diploma or less still exist, but they have declined precipitously. There is a direct correlation between education, skills, credentials, job opportunities, and income.

In “Three Educational Pathways to Good Jobs,” a publication of the Center for Education and Workforce Development, about 27 percent of young workers ages 25 - 34 with no more than a high school diploma have a good job. Overall, persons with only a high school diploma hold 20 percent of all good jobs. However, these good job opportunities are primarily for males. In comparison, 24 percent of good jobs are held by persons who have certifications, licenses, associate’s degrees, and some college coursework; 56 percent are held by individuals with a bachelor’s degree.

Looking to the future, jobs requiring a high school diploma or less are seeing little growth in availability and have lower wages than occupations that require some postsecondary education or upskill.

How can I find employment?

While each company has their own type of hiring process, students should be prepared to tell employers who they are, what work experience they have, and why they're interested in the position. This is most often conveyed through an application and a resume, cover letter, and/or references.

As technology evolves, the old days of circling job ads in the classified section of a newspaper are in the past. Some of the more traditional job search strategies are no longer popular and although they are still an option, they aren’t quite as effective as other approaches.

Here are a few places to start your search:

  • Networking events
  • Referrals
  • Company websites
  • Search engines
  • Social media
  • Job fairs
  • Recruitment agencies

Next Steps

If employment is a postsecondary option that interests you, consider taking the next steps:

  1. Determine what kind of job you want
    Start by assessing what you’re looking for and why you want to do that type of work. Identify what you enjoy and what will be a good fit with your interests, experiences, and personality.
  2. Create a resume and cover letter
    Your resume should summarize your education, work experience, credentials, and accomplishments. You can also include:
    • Leadership positions that you have held at school, church or in your local community
    • Interesting activities and initiatives you have been involved in and have committed significant time
    • Volunteer work
    • Awards you have received
    Be prepared to submit your resume online as a PDF file and make print copies to present in person. Use the Resume Builder tool in SchooLinks to get started.
  3. Conduct your job search
    Don’t rely on one source or way of doing your search. Do a combination of search engine sites, seek referrals, attend job fairs, and network. Spend time wisely and keep your network and social media presence professional and alive.
  4. Gather references
    Ask people who are familiar with your strengths and accomplishments to be a job reference—someone a prospective employer can call who will attest to your qualifications and skills, work ethic, personal qualities, and fit for the job. Examples of people you might ask: former employer, teacher, advisor, work colleague, or a supervisor of a place where you've volunteered.

    Be prepared to provide your prospective employer with the names and contact information of at least three people. Before submitting their names, however, call or email your references and let them know you are in being considered for a job. This will help them put in a good word for you and tailor their remarks to the most relevant skills and personal qualities that make you an exceptional candidate for the job.

  5. Submit job applications
    Each company has its own type of job application and hiring process. Your first contact with an employer may be through an online form, phone call, or email. Most applications will ask you to convey in some way who you are, where you’ve worked, why you’re interested in the job and the company, and what makes you qualified.
  6. Go on job interviews
    An employer may schedule an interview to learn more about your qualifications and fit for a specific position. Interviews can be conducted in a variety of ways: personal (one-on-one), group (various candidates), or panel (committee). They may take place in person, online, or by phone.
  7. Respond to an offer of employment
    If an employer offers you a job, you can review the offer and decide whether to accept or reject it. Job offers generally include terms and conditions for pay, benefits, job responsibilities, expected work hours, start date, and other details.

Tips for interviewing

  • Show up on time.
  • Wear appropriate work attire that is fitting for the work environment
  • Be positive and project confidence.
  • Be proud of your accomplishments. Don't be shy about bringing them up during your interview.
  • Listen carefully to the questions your interviewers are asking to understand what they are looking for in a candidate; weave into your responses your relevant work experiences and qualities that make you a great fit for the job.
  • Demonstrate that you are interested in working for the company; research the organization in advance of your interview and be prepared to talk about what interests you about the job and why you want to work there
  • Find the strong points in your previous work experience and interactions with bosses and coworkers--even difficult situations--and be ready to talk about lessons learned.
  • Develop a short list of questions that you may want to ask at the end of the interview.
  • Send a short thank you email after your meeting.

Office of College and Career Success

School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising


773-553-3543 (Fax)

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602