The Job Search
Where to start...
What do you like about your current job?
What do you dislike about your current job?
These two questions should help you in deciding whether you should change career or not. If in the answer to the second question you listed workplace-related things such as stupid boss, no career opportunities, insufficient pay, you should consider moving to a new workplace but if your dislikes were related to the job you are doing, you should consider changing careers.
If it is the job you would like to change, you have to decide what would you really like to do and whether your skills and qualifications support the chosen job. Only then should you consider changing careers. The below questions should help you in defining your ideal job.
Identify your skills and qualifications...
What skills do you have?
Are you quick in making decisions? Do you have good negotiation skills?
Make a list of the key skills you possess. To help you we have attached a list of the key skills. This is not an all-inclusive list, and should only serve as a guide in developing your own list of the skills.
Take your time! Developing a list of your key skills is the most important step in planning your career!
|| Analytical mindset
|| Good time management skills
|| Good team worker
|| Willing to Learn
|| Public Speaking
|| Hard working
|| Problem Solving
|| Quick Learning
|| Good at managing multiple priorities
|| Interaction with customer
Which skills that you have you would like to use in your job?
Which of the key skills you listed above you enjoy using most? Try to prioritize them!
Do you have job-specific training?
For example, if you would like to serve as an office assistant, are you familiar with word-processing software? Or, if your ideal position is that of a truck-driver, do you have a driving license?
Many companies offer job-specific training in-house, for example large investment banks often employ people with major in literature or chemistry and offer them in-house training courses.
However, if you believe that you need additional training to be able to perform your ideal job, take courses! The employer is more likely to employ someone who shows that he/she is genuinely interested in the job by investing time and resources in obtaining the required skills.
Choose your ideal job...
Use the answers to the following questions together with skills and qualifications identified to define your ideal job.
Where would you like to work?
In office or outside the office? In a large city or a small town? In a large organization or a small start-up company?
What else can you offer?
Are you ready to spend long hours at work? Work on weekends?
How much would you like to get paid?
Use the answers to the above question to determine what is your ideal job. Consult your friend, or spouse, if you are unsure which job would be most appropriate to you based on the above answers.
Job search methods...
More than three quarters of the employers do not advertise job openings. Instead they hire people they know or people who find about the opening through word-of-mouth!
According to surveys, networking and direct contact with employer are the most effective job search methods. More traditional job search methods such as ads and employment agencies are less effective.
Networking - Develop and use your network! Tell your friends, relatives and acquaintances that you are looking for a job and ask them if they know anybody looking for an employee with your skills and qualifications. And even if they do not know right away, ask them to keep you in mind in case they hear about any job openings that could be of interest to you. Tell them about your skills and experience but even better - give them your resume so that they remember your request.
Think of any other people who could be helpful! Maybe the guy you sat next to in the 3rd grade is now an IT director of a small but rapidly developing software company? Do not feel embarrassed to contact him and ask for any leads!
Join professional associations and attend meetings to get to know more people in your specialty area.
And remember - the larger the number of people you have contacted, the quicker you will get a job!
Direct contact - Direct contact with an employer takes more courage, but is also a very effective job search method. Call the employer directly! Find the name of the person who is most likely to hire you and call!
Prepare a 3 minute presentation. Tell the employer...
- what are you looking for (e.g. I am interested in a position of a software developer),
- about your experience and skills (I have 4 years experience in web-page design),
- what have you achieved in your previous positions (I have designed over 20 web-pages, such as www.netware.com, www.arthurandersen.com),
- ask if you can come for an interview.
Do not feel embarrassed if she replies that there are no positions open. Say that you would like come and talk about future openings. If she says no, ask if she knows of someone who might need an employee with your skills and experience.
Direct mail - Make a list of the companies you would like to work for. Find out who in the organization is most likely to become your boss and send a resume and cover letter to that person.
If there is no opening for a person with your skills and experience, employer is very likely to forget about you. Take the initiative in your hands. Do not leave the next step to the employer - state in your cover letter that you will contact him/her and do so.
Advertisements - Review business newspapers and professional magazines to locate a suitable position. Read the articles about the companies, which may be your potential employers - and do not hesitate to send your resume and cover letter if you see news about expansion - they will need to employ more people!
Use Internet as a job search tool. Review the ads on company web-pages, search the databases.
However, remember that ads are seen by thousands of people, so competition for the advertised jobs is fierce. We would encourage you to rely on other job search methods unless you believe that your qualifications are superior.
State Employment Agencies - State Employment Agencies offer their services for free. However, less than 10 per cent of all available job openings are known in these agencies and less than 5 per cent of all job seekers find jobs through them.
Private employment agencies - Private employment agencies are rather good in finding available positions for job seekers. However, they usually charge a fee to you or your potential employer. This fee may be rather significant.
Usually, private employment agencies learn about the job openings by phoning the companies which may need employees with your skills and experience! You can do it yourself! In addition to saving several hundred dollars, you will get experience to use in your next job search!
Job search process is a tough and time-consuming one. Do not get discouraged if you do not get a job as fast as you have hoped to.
If you are currently unemployed, spend at least 30 hours a week looking for a job. Most job seekers spend less than 10 hours a week actively looking for a job. Schedule your day and keep to the schedule.
Sometimes you cannot get a job simply because you do not have the relevant education/training, experience or skills. If that is the case, do not get discouraged. Take training courses. Consider volunteer work that will supply you with the relevant work experience.
And remember to send thank you notes to all people who have helped you in the search process. You may need their help the next time you are looking for a job!
Do you need a cover letter?
Unless you are handing over your resume to the employer directly during the interview, we strongly advise you to include a cover letter with your resume.
If you have not had any previous contact with the employer, cover letter is a must. If you are targeting a newspaper ad, or contacting someone whom you have been advised to get in touch with by your friend, aunt or whoever, you should definitely include a cover letter explaining your situation.
If you have arranged an interview with the potential employer over the telephone and are sending your resume to him, you should also include a cover letter.
And, even if you are sending your resume to an old friend of yours, you should attach a cover letter explaining why are you looking for a job and why are you the best person to hire.
Why do you need it?
It takes time to go through a resume. Employers decide from the cover letter whether the resume is worth that time.
Most employers only scan through the resume and then read the cover letter, so your cover letter has to be as well prepared as your resume. After all, your resume does not say why are you looking for a new job and why are you interested in the position you are targeting, so the cover letter has to answer these questions.
Your cover letter is your opportunity to stand out, to tell the reader what to think about you.
The purpose of the customized cover letter is to communicate a personalized message to a specific employer, answering the most fundamental employment question: "Why should I hire you?".
The cover letter is your way to distinguish what you have to offer to the employer so that the likelihood of an interview is at least doubled.
Never ever address the cover letter "To whom in might concern" or "Human Resource Department". Mr. Jones throws out all applications addressed to "Financial Director" on the grounds that if the applicant is too lazy to find out his name, she will be too lazy for to do a good job as well.
Send your resume and cover letter to the person who can make the hiring decision. Most likely it will be the individual in charge of the department you would like to work with.
Don't aim too high. Presidents and members of management board get lots of resumes because they are so visible. Find a person at the department or division level - ideally the person you would work for if you get the job.
Spend time in finding out who is the person most likely to hire you and address the letter to him/her. Call the potential employer. Don't worry if it takes three or more calls. If you get stuck, call the president's office to find out who is in charge of the department you want to work for.
Don't say that you are looking for a job. Say that you have some information to send and that you want to make sure it gets to the right person.
Unless you know the person very well, use "Mr." or "Ms." in address, for example Dear Ms. Springs or Mr. Jones.
Be sure to spell the name correctly. It is amazing how many applications include misspelled names.
Cover letter has to answer the following questions:
- What position are you applying for? State it clearly and at once. Better straight to the point than roundabout.
- How did you learn about the position/company? Did you learn about the opening through word-of-mouth or read about it in a newspaper ad? Just one sentence will do answering the first two questions, such as "I am interested in a position of sales director in white goods division which you recently advertised in Wall Street Journal".
- Why are you applying for this position? Say some good word about the company you are targeting which you can later use as a platform in presenting your own strengths, such as "CLAYS is well known for its innovative approach in product distribution, in particular through web-based sales channels."
- Why are you the best person for the position? Choose 3 to 4 main points proving that you are the best candidate. Focus on your strengths and achievements in the previous jobs. For example "I have 6 years experience in retail distribution of consumer products, including white goods. During my 3-year employment with Best Consumer Products Manufacturer its white goods sales increased threefold. I have also been heavily involved in establishing one of the first retail distribution channels on internet for All American Manufacturers. As the position matches my qualifications and experience, I can be a productive director from the day one. The enclosed resume outlines my skills and experience in more detail." As you can see, the candidate is relating the company's strengths - innovative sales approach with her own strength - involvement in web-based distribution channels.
- hat happens next? Try to take initiative in your hands. Do not just write "I hope to hear from you soon". Better: "I will call you next week to see if we might schedule a convenient time to meet and discuss employment with your company."
- Be brief. The cover letter should not be longer than 3 to 4 paragraphs. 1 to 2 paragraphs should be enough to answer the first three questions. You should not spend more than 1 to 2 paragraphs on the fourth question and 1 - on the last question.
- Make the reader interested. Communicate something personal. In your opening lines write something that is associated with the person, company or division you are applying for. The likelihood of personal response to your letter is directly related to the degree of personal attention you put in your cover letter.
Here is an opening that goes straight to the point:
"Dear Mr. Latimer:
Our mutual friend Mrs. Bell urged me to write you about your plan to set up a research department. I would like to help you to set it up - and I know how to do it, as you can see from my resume".
For example, "My engineering experience with bridge construction would be valuable to you in your new construction project."
- Be specific and factual. Offer evidence in support of your strengths and achievements. Touch on your most important achievements in matter-of-fact style.
- Use their language. Use the right terms to indicate your skills and qualifications. Watch out for overkill.
Why do you need a resume?
The main reason you should have a resume is simple - most employers request one. And even if the employer does not ask for a resume, a resume is the most efficient way to present your qualifications, skills and experience.
In addition, resume writing process itself will help you in crystallizing your job objective, determining your major skills and achievements. People with better, more thought-through resumes perform much better at the job interviews!
Which resume is best for you?
There are two basic resume types:
- chronological resume
- skills resume
Chronological resume presents your life experience in a chronological format. Chronological resume focuses on what have you been doing and what have you achieved. Chronological resume provides a clear picture of your employment history, focusing on career advancement and increased responsibilities.
Skills resume focuses on the skills you have acquired while working. It clusters the skills/knowledge you have gained under major skills areas.
If your previous education and work experience support the job you are applying for, you may use a chronological resume. A big advantage of a chronological resume is that it is easy to do. A simple chronological resume can be completed in an hour!
If you are changing careers and do not have relevant work experience skills resume is a better alternative.
Employers sometimes dislike the skills resume, as it does not provide a clear picture of your employment history. Skills resume does not answer the questions many employers are asking themselves when they first look at your resume such as "How well has the applicant performed in her job? Has she been promoted? Has she been given increased responsibilities?".
At the same time most employers will admit that a list of your core skills and abilities definitely adds value to your resume. It allows you to demonstrate your strengths in relation to the position you are targeting.
Therefore, we strongly advise you to use a combination resume, which includes the best of the two generic resume types. First, outline the skills and knowledge relevant for the position you are applying for. Continue with your work experience and educational background supporting the skills you have with specific examples.
Make you resume interesting to read
Most resumes are boring. View your resume as a marketing document, a way to communicate your strengths and achievements. Remember - the employer does not want to hear your life story. He is looking for the best person to do the job. Therefore, write what the employer wants to hear!
Focus on your achievements. List facts that support your achievements. Do not just write "sales director" but "sales director. Increased sales threefold over a 2-year period".
Ask your friend to read through and give comments on your resume. Make the suggested changes only if you are 100% certain they will improve your resume!
Appearance and formatting
Most of the employers have a pile of job applications on their desk. Research shows that an employer typically spends only between 10 to 20 seconds on each job application. The formatting of your resume should ensure that the employer, scanning the resume, quickly notices the most important things you want to convey!
- Do not use fancy font styles! Arial and Times New Roman with font size between 10 and 12 are the most appropriate.
- Use bullets. Bullets helps to structure your resume. Bullets considerably improve the appearance and reading easiness.
- Use white space. Crowded resume "hides" the things you want to say.
Unless your work in a highly scientific or technical field (4 and even more pages are regarded as a norm here), we suggest you keep your resume 1 to 2 pages long.
Present the key points. Resume is a marketing document, which should only present the things that will be to your benefit.
- use short sentences;
- drop "I", e.g. "achieved 10 per cent increase in sales" instead of " I achieved 10 per cent increase in sales".
Writing a good resume and cover letter will not help you in getting a job if you fail at an interview.
Prepare for the interview
Research the target company. Most of the companies today have a website, so be sure to visit it! Locate articles about the company in business press and professional magazines.
If any of the people you know work for the company, interview them to get an understanding of the company's strategy, strong and weak points, and, most importantly, the company's culture. Getting a feeling of the company's culture and the type of people working at the company will make you more confident at the interview.
Review the types of questions employers are most likely to ask. Think of the answers to all of them.
After each interview, write down what did you do good at the interview and where did you fail. Put down the questions that were asked so that you can review them before the next interview.
Usually, interviewers ask if you have any questions to them. Prepare a few questions, which you can put forward!
And be sure to show interest in the company during the interview.
What will they ask
Below we present the most often asked questions. Review them and think of the answers to all of them. You should not spend more than 3-5 minutes on a question.
We suggest that you practice the answers to the questions you are most likely to be asked in front of the mirror, or, even better, have the answers videotaped!
- Tell about yourself.
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why should we hire you?
- How does your previous experience relates to the opening?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What do you expect from your job?
- What are planning to do in 3, 5, 10 years?
Before leaving, do not forget to ask what happens next. Will the interviewer contact you or should you phone him?
How to behave
Remember that as many as 70 per cent of the employers hire people they like, based on their appearance, behavior and personal characteristics. During interview your main aim is gaining approval from the interviewer.
Come on time.
Be nice to all the people you meet at the office.
Even if you are a heavy smoker, resist temptation. Many offices today are non-smoking and, even if you see other people in the office lighting up a cigarette, do not follow the example Your interviewer may not like it.
Watch your body language!
Mirror the interviewer. If she speaks quickly and enthusiastically, respond in the same enthusiastic manner. If she speaks slowly and pauses between the sentences, do the same!
Show interest in the company by asking questions.
Never ever say bad things about your previous employer. If you were fired from your previous workplace, be prepared to explain, why.
Some companies test the potential employees. You can be asked to present a solution to a problem related to your potential job. You will be forced to work under time pressure, and it will be both your behavior (i.e. do you become stressed, nervous or stay calm) and the result of the test the employer will be judging.
Sometimes job interviews are conducted in restaurants. The main behavior rules here are:
- do not order alcoholic drinks;
- do not order spicy food from which you can start coughing or food with which you can dirty yourself;
- do not offer to pay yourself. You have been invited and will be paid for.
How to dress
You would not like to be wearing a black tie or black long dress at a party if everybody else is in a T-shirt and jeans. The truth is, it can be as damaging to be overdressed than underdressed. According to surveys, as much as 50 per cent of all people interviewed for a position created a bad first impression, mainly because of their appearance.
When choosing the right outfit for an interview you should follow a simple rule - dress a bit more conservative than the person who will interview you. If you apply for a job at a jeans wearing office, wear a shirt, tie and trousers or blouse and skirt. If you are applying for a summer job at a beach cafe, wear a T-shirt and jeans.
- avoid wearing clothes in aggressive colors;
- avoid wearing a lot of jewelry;
- wear appropriate shoes;
- do not use excessive amount of perfume/aftershave;
- do not carry pagers, cell phones.
If you have previous experience in the broadcast industry, or through classes or other avenues, you should present this material at or before your interview. Your demo reel is similar to the cover letter and resume you send to potential employers, but in some ways is more important. The demo reel is the probably the only example of your work that the employer will see or hear. In general, demo tapes should:
- Be short, 2-3 minutes total.
- Contain only your best work, employer are not interested in improvement as much as final quality.
- Show a variety of your talents; producing, voice work, sound design, visual design, etc.
- Be usable by the employer. Audio should probably be on CD and Video on Beta, but this will depend greatly on the employer. Ask what format they want.
- Focus more on what you want to do. If you've done a lot of voice work but prefer news writing and production, put more news than voice over work on your reel. Be professional!
- Contain contact info. The presentation of your demo tape represents your work too. Make the packaging and labeling look nice and include contact info. What if they lose your resume, but love your tape?
- Remember that some stations may have dozens or hundreds of tapes to review, so they may only spend a brief moment with your demo. Make every second count!