Looking for work is a full-time job and is the hardest work a person may ever do! A serious job search requires as much time looking for work as will be spent on the job. A 40-hour per week job equals a 40-hour per week job search.
Conveying how you can contribute to the employer's business needs when filling out a job application, résumé and during an interview is very important. Keep the basic needs of employers in mind:
- Employers need to make money
- Employers need to save money
- Employers need a problem-free work environment
- Employers need people who get along well with others
Clear occupational goals and objectives are required for an effective job search. Knowing the kind of work you are looking for will keep your search in focus. No one is really looking for "anything." Every job seeker has requirements for employment and limitations on their current qualifications. Without clear job search goals, the search will become aimless and ineffective.
Begin your job search by gathering and organizing all the information you need to sell your qualifications and satisfy the needs of a prospective employer.
Next, complete a thorough identification and analysis of your skills. Employers not only want to know where you have worked, your job title and that you need a job, they want to know what you can do. If you were planning to purchase a product that would cost you thousands of dollars a year for many years, you also would want to know what it could do.
There are some basic tools you should develop to help in this effort. First, prepare a personal data sheet with all your employment-related information. This will make employment applications easier to complete. Second, write one or more résumés that advertise your skills to an employer.
Now you are ready to begin seeking that new job. The job market is constantly changing. During one period of time job opportunities may be scarce, during another period they may be plentiful. Regardless of job market conditions, there is always strong competition for the better jobs. Successful candidates are those who use up-to-date job search techniques.
Experts agree that today the vast majority (80 percent or more) of job openings are not advertised. Most employment opportunities are hidden. A primary reason is simply that most employers do not need to advertise; they have enough applicants without it. Another reason is that employers prefer to hire on a referral from someone they trust.
There are a variety of strategies that increase your chances of identifying job openings and breaking into the "hidden job market." These techniques include: networking, informational interviewing, direct employer contact, employment services, electronic bulletin boards and résumé scanning systems. Electronic résumé systems allow job seekers to enter résumés and search for jobs on the Internet. America's Job Bank and Connecticut's Job Bank are examples of such a system. You can access Connecticut's Job Bank home page at: http://www.ajb.org/ct/
Job search networking is a targeted effort to talk to people about your job search. It should not be limited to casual conversations with people you meet. It should be a calculated campaign to contact people for ideas, suggestions and information. Networking is not new, it is simply the sharing of information and resources with others. Everyone carries with them a wealth of information and insight. When we share information, we tap into this wealth of knowledge and open the doors of opportunity. This exchange is often informal and not planned. Networking, as a job search strategy, is more formal and calculated.
The informational interview is a networking effort targeted toward potential employers and professionals within a specific industry. This technique is used to gather information regarding skills, training and experience needed for an occupation. It is also a method to learn about a specific company or about an industry. It is inappropriate to ask for a job during an informational interview.
Direct Employer Contact
Direct contact is essential for the serious job seeker but direct contact takes planning and preparation. It is not enough to just walk in and ask "Are you hiring?" A successful job search is a sales campaign and your challenge is to sell your qualifications.
The first step is to list potential employers. As your job search progresses, you will continually add to this list. The local public library is a priceless resource in this effort. The library is an excellent place to identify potential employers and prepare your job search strategy. Specific publications to review include the phone book, Chamber of Commerce listings, employer profiles, industry guides and newspapers. Additional sources for information include your local Department of Labor Job Centers, schools and community agencies.
Once you have your list, plan a strategy to approach each employer. There are many approaches available and you will want to vary them depending upon the circumstances and your preferences. You can fill out an application, send a résumé, call the employer directly, or arrange for an informational interview, check the employer's website and check for employment opportunity job openings.
Persistence and follow-up are the keys to a successful job search. If you are serious about employment, plan your follow-up. There is no such thing as a wasted effort and the only dead lead is the one you chose to kill. Situations change and the employer who is not hiring today may be looking for someone with your qualifications in the future.
Private Placement Agencies
Employment agencies come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Some specialize in very specific occupational areas. Many employers have exclusive arrangements with employment agencies and they can be an excellent resource for job leads. If you are interested in the services of an agency, investigate them carefully. Determine what they will do for you and how much it will cost.
Temporary agencies and contract houses are another source of employment. Increasingly, employers are turning to them for help in managing their human resources. Many people have worked their way into excellent employment by first working as a temporary. Once they prove themselves, the employer is eager to hire them as permanent employees. Even if this does not happen, temporary jobs are an excellent way to build skills, gain experience, and minimize the cost of reemployment.
If you are receiving any wage subsidy, such as Unemployment Insurance, be sure to check for any adverse consequences temporary employment may have on these benefits. If you choose to use an agency, check them out very carefully and be sure you understand all the conditions of the contract.
Job Search Technologies
Our society is in the midst of a technological revolution that is having a tremendous effect on the workplace. With the use of computers and modems, a person can reach a vast world of opportunity. Many job seekers use electronic media to identify potential employers and submit their qualifications.