Overcoming Obstacles

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Lesson 3: Looking for a Job


  • Students will learn how to identify jobs.

  • Students will understand how to read and understand a job description.

  • Students will learn how to determine if a job is a good fit.


  • Whiteboard and markers (Parts I and II)

  • “Sample Job Posting” Activity Sheet (Part II)

  • Internet access (Part III)


3 Minutes

Have students recall the last time they decided to watch a movie. Ask, “When choosing a film, did you just select a title at random and press play?” Elicit from students that a lot of thought and consideration can go into the decision of what movie to watch. Say, “You might consider the type of film you feel like seeing, read the description to see if it interests you, or find reviews before deciding.”

Explain to students that, just as they would not select a movie at random, the same should apply when trying to find a job. Tell students that in this lesson they will learn the process of looking for a job.

Part I: Finding Job Listings

15 Minutes

Purpose: Students learn how to use job posting resources.

1. Students identify job-hunting resources.

Ask students where they might find information about jobs in which they are interested and list their responses where everyone can see them. (Student responses may include job search engines, company websites, and social networking sites.) Explain to students that not all jobs are listed in one place, and they may have to search through many sources in order to find the right job for them.

2. Students understand how the same type of job can be posted under different names.

Ask students for a show of hands if they have ever seen the insect that emits light during the summer. After taking the survey, ask for a volunteer to share the name of the insect you described (students may say “lightning bug” or “firefly”). Point out that people refer to this insect by different names, like “lightning bug,” “firefly,” “glowworm,” and “june bug.” Say, “Even though we are referring to the same thing, we can have many different names for it. This is also true for job postings.”

Say, “For example, some companies may refer to a position as an ‘Office Manager,’ whereas others may call the same job an ‘Office Administrator,’ ‘Executive Assistant,’ or ‘Office Coordinator.’ Emphasize that, when looking for a job, it is important to do the proper research and identify all of the possible titles and descriptions for the job you are seeking.

3. Students find similar jobs with different titles.

Group students into pairs and tell them you are going to give each of them a job title and they need to find different ways the job title can be listed in postings. Examples could include:

  • Communications Coordinator (e.g., Engagement Manager, Marketing Coordinator)
  • Customer Service Representative (e.g., Receptionist, Technical Support)
  • Data Scientist (e.g., Data Engineer, Data Analyst)
  • Event Planner (e.g., Event Coordinator, Event Manager)
  • Office Clerk (e.g., Office Assistant, Office Worker)
  • Project Manager (e.g., Project Coordinator, Project Engineer)
  • Security Guard (e.g., Security Officer, Security Specialist)

Tell students they have five minutes to work as a team and identify as many different job titles for that position as possible. Once they have finished, have them share their findings with the class, offering your ideas as well.

Part II: Reading and Understanding Job Descriptions

10 Minutes

Purpose: Students understand how to read a job description.

1. Students learn why it is important to read a job description thoroughly.

Tell students that the majority of job openings are posted with a description that provides details on the position that is available. Say to students, “While you may find that the same job can be listed under several different titles, the reverse can also be true. Sometimes, you may see that a job with the same title is listed for multiple companies, but the responsibilities for the position can be significantly different. That’s why it is important to read job descriptions thoroughly.”

2. Students read a job description and identify key terms and requirements.

Say to students, “It is important to pay attention to the language of a job description, as it usually contains keywords that describe what the employer is looking for in a new hire.” Distribute copies of the “Sample Job Posting” activity sheet to each student (alternatively, you can find a job posting online) and tell them to highlight the information they need to address when they apply for the job (for example, experience managing social media accounts).

After five minutes, have students share what they highlighted and explain their reasons for doing so. Point out that some qualifications may seem intimidating at first, but most employers do not require applicants to possess everything that is outlined. So, it is important to apply for jobs you want even if you do not fully match the description. Say, “Maybe you have never managed a social media account professionally, but you have experience with them personally. This could make you a good fit for the job.”

Next, say, “In addition to understanding the key responsibilities’ and qualifications, knowing how to apply is very important. Oftentimes, people will not include the required documentation when applying for a job.” Point out that this posting asks for a cover letter and resume, but other jobs may ask for more information, like school transcripts. Tell students that where you send the documentation is just as important. This posting asks for it to be emailed, but others may ask for applicants to upload it to a company job portal. 

Say, “If you do not read a job description thoroughly, you may miss some important instructions, and this could cause your application to be disqualified without ever being read. You want to ensure you are giving yourself the best chance of being considered for the job you want.”

Part III: Is This a Fit?

20 Minutes

Purpose: Students reflect on the type of job they would like to have.

1. Students identify the difference between nonprofit and for-profit jobs.

Ask students to raise their hands if they know the difference between a nonprofit and for-profit job. Then tell students that, generally speaking, a nonprofit organization exists to provide a service to a community, further a cause, or work toward a specific mission. A for-profit business is primarily focused on generating a profit. Say, “When deciding on a career path, it’s important to consider your interests. Would you prefer to focus on helping your community directly or on helping a business become as successful as possible?”

Emphasize that there is no right answer to this question—many for-profit businesses do a lot of good for their community and support a variety of causes, and many people in the nonprofit sector can be very successful. Say, “The important thing is to consider what path would be the best fit for you and your interests.”

2. Students learn that researching a company is important.

Tell students that an important step in the job-seeking process is researching the company they are interested in working for. Say, “Knowing as much as possible about a company can help put you ahead of other applicants when applying for a job.” Point out that most companies have social media accounts and web pages, and some may even have news articles, press releases, or Wikipedia pages. Emphasize that knowing about their potential employer will help them in the application and interview process, as well as give them a greater understanding of how the employer operates.

3. Students learn how to research the culture of a company.

Say to students, “While it’s important to research a company to help you in the application process, this can also be an opportunity to learn more about the culture of the company.” Explain that there are websites that allow current and former employees to voice their opinions on a company. Say, “Websites like these can offer valuable insight into what the day-to-day is like at a company and also provide more details on benefits, work environment, and more.”

Have students select a well-known company they may want to work for and take 10 minutes to research what it is like to work there. Tell them to consider things that are important to them (for example, opportunities for advancement, work-life balance, or salary ranges). Once they have finished, have volunteers share what they have learned with the class. Was there anything about working for a specific company that surprised them? Ask, “After researching the company, are you more interested or less interested in a career with them?”


2 Minutes

Ask students to name three important steps in looking for a job. Elicit from students the following key points that were taught in the lesson:

  • Understand the different ways that jobs are posted.
  • Read a job description closely.
  • Research the employer and make sure you are a good fit for each other.

Tell students that, while the job-seeking process can seem intimidating at first, breaking it down into smaller steps can help provide them with the ability to apply with confidence. Then, write this quote where everyone can see it and encourage students to write it in their journal, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

Student Assessment

  1. What are three sources for job postings?
  2. What information should you look for in a job description?
  3. How can you determine if you are a good fit for a job, and vice versa?

Extensions for Lesson 3: Looking for a Job

Using Quotations


“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.”


Ask volunteers to complete this sentence: “I will make my own opportunities by…”

Writing in Your Journal


Have students write about how looking for work makes them feel. Have them describe what they find exciting and what they find challenging. Ask student volunteers to share their journal entry.

Using Technology


Have students take the free personality test at www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test. After students receive their results, ask if there are any careers they think may be a good fit for them. Ask too if there are careers recommended that they have not considered.



Have students identify five industry-specific sources (for example, jobs in education, jobs in the medical field, local government jobs) where jobs are posted and bring them to class the next day.

Using Quotations


“One thing to remember is that you’re not alone. There are lots of people who’ve struggled with job searches and staying motivated but have pushed through and found the job of their dreams. It’s not always quick or easy, but it can and will happen.”


Encourage students to write this quote down and display it at home where they can see it.

Addressing Multiple Learning Styles


Before beginning this activity, prepare six responses that students might hear from a hiring manager when inquiring about part-time jobs (for example, “We’re not hiring,” “Please apply online,” “What are your qualifications?”). Write these responses on the board and assign each a number from one to six. Divide students into pairs and have them take turns playing job seeker and hiring manager. Students playing the latter should roll a die to determine which of the six responses to use.

Activity Sheets

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