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Five Keys to Finding a Job

Five Keys to Finding a Job

Five Keys to Finding a Job

WHO obtains the best job? Is it always the most qualified applicant? “No,” says Brian, an employment consultant. “The job often goes to the most effective job seeker.” What can you do to become a more effective job seeker? Let us consider five suggestions.

Be Organized

If you have lost a good job or have been unemployed for some time, it is easy to become downhearted. “When I first lost my job, I was optimistic about finding another one,” says Katharina, a dressmaker in Germany. “But as the months dragged on and I was unable to find work, I became depressed. Eventually, I even found it hard to talk about the subject with my friends.”

How can you counteract feelings of hopelessness? “It is crucial that you establish your own ‘workday’ schedule so that you start your day knowing what is to be done,” suggests the book Get a Job in 30 Days or Less. The authors recommend that you “set daily goals and record what you have done.” In addition, they say that “each day must start with your getting dressed for work.” Why? “Being dressed properly will give you added confidence even when talking on the telephone.”

Yes, you must make it your job to find a job, no matter how long it takes. Katharina, mentioned earlier, adopted this businesslike approach. She says: “I obtained the addresses and phone numbers of prospective employers from the employment office. I responded to newspaper ads. I studied the phone book and made lists of companies that might have jobs that were not yet advertised, and then I contacted them. I also compiled a résumé and sent it to these companies.” After such systematic searching, Katharina found a suitable job.

Access the Hidden Job Market

The fisherman with the largest net is the one most likely to catch fish. So, too, your knowing how to increase the size of your “net” will improve your chances of landing a job. If you are looking for work only by responding to newspaper or Internet advertisements, the majority of available jobs may be slipping past your net. A good number of jobs are never advertised. How can you gain access to this hidden job market?

In addition to responding to advertisements, like Katharina you must set aside time each week to call on businesses that you think may have jobs you can do. Do not wait for them to advertise positions. If a manager says that he has no work, ask him if he knows where else you might look and specifically to whom you should speak. If he offers a suggestion, make an appointment with that company, stating the name of the person who referred you.

Tony, mentioned in the preceding article, found a job this way. “I took the initiative to contact companies even though they were not advertising,” he explains. “One company said that there were no vacancies at present but that I should try again in three months. I did, and I obtained a job.”

Primrose, a single mother in South Africa, did something similar. “While I was attending a first-aid course,” she says, “I noticed a new building being constructed across the road and discovered that it was going to be a nursing home for the elderly. I repeatedly tried to make an appointment with the superintendent of the facility. He finally told me that there were currently no jobs available. However, I kept returning to see if I could work there, even as a volunteer. Eventually, I was employed on a temporary basis. I applied myself to whatever tasks I was given. As a result, I gained additional qualifications and obtained a permanent job at the facility.”

You can also ask your friends, family, and other associates to help you access the hidden job market. This is how Jacobus, a safety officer in South Africa, found a job. He says: “When the company I worked for went out of business, I let friends and family know that I was looking for work. One day a friend of mine overheard a conversation while in line at a supermarket. One woman was asking another if she knew of anyone looking for work. My friend interrupted and told the woman about me. An appointment was arranged, and I got the job.”

Be Adaptable

To increase your chances of finding work, you must be adaptable. Jaime, mentioned in the preceding article, observes: “It is unlikely that you will find a job that has everything you hope for. You need to learn to be content with employment that is less than ideal.”

Being adaptable may mean overcoming prejudice against certain types of work. Consider Ericka, who lives in Mexico. Trained as an executive secretary, she was initially unable to find the kind of work she preferred. “I learned to accept any suitable work,” she says. “For a while I worked as a sales assistant. I also sold tacos on the street and cleaned houses. Eventually, I was able to find a job in my field of expertise.”

When Mary, mentioned in the preceding article, lost her job as a clerk, she too saw the need to be adaptable. She explains: “I wasn’t adamant about finding the same type of work I had been doing. I followed up each job opportunity that came along, even if it involved what some might consider menial work. As a result, I was able to find work to support my two children.”

Produce an Effective Résumé

For those applying for executive positions, compiling and distributing a professional résumé is a must. * But no matter what job you seek, a well-prepared résumé can be a great asset. “A résumé tells potential employers not only who you are but also what you have accomplished and why they need you,” says Nigel, an employment consultant in Australia.

How do you compile a résumé? Provide your full name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. State your objective. List the education you have received, highlighting any training and skills that relate to the job you are seeking. Provide details of previous work experience. Include not only what you did but also examples of the goals you reached and the benefits you brought to your previous employers. Also highlight aspects of your previous employment that qualify you for the job you are currently seeking. Include personal information that describes your qualities, interests, and hobbies. Because companies’ needs differ, you may have to adjust your résumé for each application.

Should you produce a résumé if you are applying for your first job? Yes! There may be many things you have done that qualify as work experience. For example, do you have hobbies, such as woodworking or perhaps fixing up old cars? These can be listed. Have you engaged in any volunteer work? List the type of volunteer work you have done and the goals you have achieved.​—See the box “Sample Résumé for Those Without Work Experience.”

When you cannot obtain an interview with a prospective employer, leave a small card​—preferably four inches by six inches [10 cm by 15 cm]—​containing your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address, as well as a brief summary of your skills and accomplishments. On the back of the card, if appropriate, you could even put a photo of yourself or of you with your family. Distribute this card to all those who might help you find work, asking them to hand it to anyone they know who is offering the type of work you are seeking. When a potential employer sees this card, he may grant you an interview​—perhaps leading to a job!

Preparing a résumé will help you feel more in control as you search for work. Nigel, mentioned earlier, says: “Writing a résumé helps you organize your thoughts and goals. It also builds your confidence by helping you prepare for potential questions you may be asked during a job interview.”​—See the box on page 7.

Prepare Well for Your Interviews

What is involved in preparing for an interview? You may want to research the company you hope to work for. The more you know about the company, the better the impression you will make during the interview. Your research will also help you determine whether the company really has the kind of work you want or is one you want to work for.

Next, think about what you will wear to the interview. If the job you seek involves manual labor, wear appropriate neat, clean clothing. Neat dress and grooming tell the prospective employer that you take pride in yourself and are thus more likely to take pride in your work. If you are hoping to work in an office, choose modest clothing that is considered suitable business attire where you live. Nigel says: “Choose your clothes long before you are due to attend your interview so that you don’t feel rushed and unnecessarily increase your levels of stress prior to the interview.”

Nigel also recommends arriving for your interview about 15 minutes early. Of course, arriving too early is not wise. But arriving late could be disastrous. Experts say that the first three seconds of your interview are crucial. During that brief time, the interviewer makes assessments about your appearance and your bearing that deeply influence his or her opinion of you. If you are late, you will make an overwhelmingly negative impression. Remember, there are no second chances to rectify first impressions.

Remember, too, that the interviewer is not your enemy. After all, he likely had to apply for his job, so he knows how you feel. In fact, he may be nervous, since he may have received little or no training on how to conduct an interview. In addition, if the interviewer is the employer, he may have much to lose if he chooses the wrong person for the job.

To start off well, smile and give the interviewer a firm handshake if that is the customary greeting. During the interview, concentrate on what the employer needs from you and what you have to offer. Regarding things to avoid, Nigel says: “Don’t fidget or slouch​—good posture conveys confidence. Don’t be too informal or overly talkative, and definitely do not use profanity. Also, avoid being negative about your former employers and workmates​—if you are negative about them, the interviewer will likely feel you will be negative about this job too.”

Regarding things to do and say during the interview, experts recommend the following: Maintain eye contact with the interviewer, use natural gestures when you speak, and articulate clearly. Be concise and honest when answering questions, and ask relevant questions about the company and the prospective job. At the end of the interview, if you still want the job, ask for it. Doing so will show your enthusiasm.

By following the suggestions outlined above, you may soon have a job. If that is the case, what can you do to increase your chances of keeping it?


^ par. 18 In some places a similar document is called a CV, or curriculum vitae.

[Box/Picture on page 6]

Sample Résumé for Those Without Work Experience

Your Name:

Your Address:

Your Telephone Number and E-Mail Address:

Objective: Seeking entry-level position in manufacturing.

Education: Graduated from Hometown High School, 2004.

Courses: Language skills, mathematics, computers, woodworking class.

Skills and Abilities: Work well with my hands. Regularly service the family car. Made wooden chairs and a table in my home workshop. Enjoy using my math skills while making furniture. Installed roofing material on a volunteer building project. Can use most types of computers and enjoy learning new programs.

Personal Information: Reliable​—missed only two days of school in senior year. Honest​—returned a lost wallet that contained money. Friendly​—regularly engage in volunteer work in the community and enjoy assisting the elderly. Athletics​—love playing basketball. Hobbies​—enjoy repairing automobiles and woodworking.

References: Available on request. *


^ par. 43 Reference contacts could include a schoolteacher who knows you well or a family friend who runs a business. By making these names available on request, you can get an early indication that a prospective employer may be interested in hiring you. Be sure to obtain the permission of those you list as references.

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Questions You May Be Asked During an Interview

❑ Why have you applied for this job?

❑ Why do you want to work for this particular company?

❑ What do you know about the job/company/industry?

❑ Have you ever done this type of work before?

❑ What kind of machines can you operate?

❑ What experience have you had in this area of work?

❑ What skills can you bring to this job?

❑ Tell me about yourself.

❑ What five words would you say best describe you?

❑ Can you work under pressure?

❑ Why did you leave your last job?

❑ Why have you been unemployed for so long?

❑ What was your last employer’s opinion of you?

❑ How often were you absent from work on your last job?

❑ What are your plans for the future?

❑ When are you available to start work?

❑ What are your greatest assets?

[Box/Picture on page 9]

What About Online Employment Agencies?

One of the largest online employment Web sites in the United States has 17 million résumés listed for potential employers to peruse and some 800,000 jobs listed for the unemployed to consider. Surveys indicate that up to 96 percent of people in some countries search for jobs using the Internet. However, research compiled among professionals from 40 countries shows that only 5 percent of the job seekers among them actually find work through this medium.

Posting your résumé online increases the number of potential employers who know you are looking for a job, but caution is in order. It also increases your chances of becoming a victim of fraud. To protect yourself from this fate, industry experts provide the following advice:

1. Read the privacy policy of an online employment agency before you post your résumé with them. Some job sites sell your personal details to mass-market companies or other interested parties.

2. Post your résumé with only a handful of reputable online job sites. It is vital to protect your personal information to prevent its being misused. Your résumé should never contain the information a thief would need to steal your identity and cause you endless financial trouble. Legitimate employers do not need to know your bank account number, credit card number, or exact date of birth.

3. Beware of vague job offers. Pam Dixon, a researcher with the World Privacy Forum, says that the more general the offer, the less valid it usually is. “Vague wording like ‘We have thousands of jobs’ or ‘We work with major companies’ is a red flag,” she states, adding: “Requests to send in a new copy of your résumé can spell trouble, too.”

Remember, even the most reputable online job sites cannot control what happens to your résumé once it has been downloaded by a potential employer or other interested party.

[Diagram/Picture on page 5]


Prepare well for interviews

Produce an effective résumé

Be adaptable

Access the hidden job market

Be organized

[Picture on page 7]

Finding a job requires persistence and thorough research

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A businesslike approach will help you in your interviews