Looking for work can be a terrifying prospect for people, whether you’re a newly unemployed businesswoman, or a college student looking to get his first real job. Learning to craft a good resume, knowing how to network, and keeping a positive attitude can make your job search easier. See step 1 to get started looking for your potential new job!
Preparing to Look
1 Craft your resume
The resume is one of the main ways your potential employer is going to get a good look at what you might offer their company. You have to make sure that it is formatted in a way that draws attention, it’s free of errors that could cost you the job, and that it is accurate.
- Consider three characteristics that you would best offer a potential employer (it’s best to think in the specific for each employer; creative thinking might be good for an office job, but less good for a welding job) and write them down. You will want a person reading your resume to get a sense of these three characteristics. For example: instead of saying you’re a creative thinker, highlight examples of times when you presented creative, useful solutions to a problem.
- Be specific and tell a story. Your resume tells the story you want it to tell about what kind of worker you are. For example, if you worked at a restaurant, don’t say “waited tables” say “managed up to 5 tables during busy nights and ensured a positive customer experience.” This shows that you handle stress well, you can multitask and that you care about the customer.
- One of the most used ways of doing your resume is the chronological method. This means that you list your work history from latest to first, so your employer can see what jobs you’ve been doing. This is a good way of showing how much work you’ve been doing, especially if the work has been in areas similar to the job for which you’re applying.
- A slightly different way of formatting your resume is to put the relevant work experience first. This means that you have a section detailing the jobs you’ve done that correlate to the job you’re looking for. After that you might have a section with other jobs in chronological order. The benefit of this method is that the potential employer can easily how much experience you have.
2 Prepare for a job interview
You should never go into a job interview without having prepared for it beforehand, even if it’s for something you consider a menial, basic job that you think you can’t possibly fail to get. There are certain questions that you’ll almost inevitably be asked at a job interview that you should consider beforehand.
- Your employer will probably ask about your experience at a previous company. What they want to know with this query is how your past experience is going to relate to the job you’re interviewing for. They may ask what is your biggest professional accomplishment to date. Use this as an opportunity to provide an example of why you should get this job. For the question “why are you the best person for this position” you will need to give an example or two about what sets you apart from the other candidates.
- The biggest, and typically most terrifying question is what is your greatest weakness? The best way to answer this question is to be honest, but strategic. Answer truthfully, but address what you’re doing to overcome/improve your weakness. For example: “My greatest weakness is that I have a tendency to take on too many things at work. I’ve been working to get better on giving closer attention to the most important projects, while still maintaining time for and quality of the smaller projects.”
- Practice the 2 minute SAFW response method. This means “say a few words; statement; amplify; few examples; wrap-up.” For example, if the interviewer asks you about your experience at a previous company, say something like “X company was really great with honing my customer service experience. I worked with a wide range of customers to ensure an optimum experience for each. When I was answering the phones, I once talked an 80-year-old first generation German ex-pat through the sign-up process, despite him speaking almost no English.The previous people he’d talked to had gotten really frustrated with his lack of English, but he and I worked through the process very carefully. I even learned a few new German words!”
3 Research your potential job fully
While this is part of preparation for a job interview, it is one of the most important part of showing why you’re a good fit for the company. Even if you’re putting out a bunch of resumes, you will need to know enough about each company you’re applying for that you look like you know what you’re talking about if you get an interview.
- Know who you’re interviewing with, if possible. Find out if it’s the manager, the owner, etc. If possible, learn their name and a little about them. If you can learn a little about what they look for in an interviewee (if you know someone who works at the company, for example) that can help you tailor the interview to their standards.
- Have some idea of what the company does. Even a simple internet search can benefit you here. Asking really obvious questions about the company or having no clear idea what it is the company does makes you look desperate for a job and not interested in that job specifically, which will limit your chances at getting the job.
4 Craft good questions
Interviewers are paying attention to the questions you ask, so this is just another part of the assessment. Ask your interviewer to give you some examples of projects you might take on, ask about typical job trajectory for the position you’re applying for, ask them why do they like working there, ask how you would best contribute to the company.
- You can also ask if they have any concerns about you or your qualifications that might prevent you from going to the next level. A really good question to ask is “what is the culture in the company like?”
- Avoid certain questions: anything you could have found on the internet, asking what the company does, asking if they do background checks, asking if the company monitors internet or email usage, or asking about the interviewer’s qualifications
5 Dress appropriately
You do not want to show up to your place of potential employment dressed like you just rolled out of bed. This includes when you turn up to ask about job openings, or to drop off your resume.
- Try to get a sense of what the dress code is like for the company. Obviously, it depends on the company how you’ll be dressing. Working as a barista is going to require different clothing than a bank teller.
- Make sure that you and your clothes are clean. If that is difficult for you (because you can’t afford to do so for whatever reason), some shelters, nonprofit groups, or local laundromats offer discounts or free services to people who can’t afford it.
6 Be realistic
In order to look for work and to actually get far with your job, you must have tenacity and guts, and aware that you’re probably going to get rejected more than once for a job. Finding a job can take time and effort. They don’t typically just fall into your lap; the ones that seem to do that come about because of your commitment to your previous jobs.
- It’s incredibly unlikely that the first job you apply for is the one you’re going to get. You cannot allow that to discourage you. Instead, look at each interview, each time you give someone your resume, as an opportunity to make a connection and to learn from any mistakes you make. The more you interview and write resumes, the better and more polished you’ll end up.
Part2 Looking For a Job
1 Ask around
While plenty of people find a job in the classifieds or over the internet, the very best way to get a job is through word of mouth, preferably by someone already in the company. Let friends and family know that you’re looking for a job, and specify what kind of job you’re you’d like.
- Having people you know already in the company you’re looking to work for, makes it a lot more likely that you’ll get hired, especially if the people who work there are good employees. A personal recommendation can be a huge asset to your resume.
- University alumni networks are a fantastic way to find a job, or get contacts. Most universities can hook you up with former alum who can answer your questions about getting a job in a specific field, who can write recommendations, or even offer a job in their company or field.
2 Look at local listings
There are usually bulletin boards (online, in paper, or on an actual wall) all throughout your community. People post all kinds of job opportunities in these places, including some of the more unusual possibilities. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on these places, because you never know what might come up.
- Check the listings at the local library. Libraries and public spaces often have listings for different kinds of jobs.
- Look in your local newspaper’s job listings. The classifieds have all kinds of jobs, including some rather unusual ones. Make sure you know the companies or people that are offering the jobs, because anyone can put a classified in the newspaper. Check things out before you get too far into the interview process.
3 Use the internet as a resource
Quite a few people are finding that the internet is a great job hunting tool and networking opportunity. You will have to make sure that you filter out the resources that aren’t very good and make sure you research a job you find on the internet before committing to anything.
- Find a website specific to your niche. If you’re looking to be a journalist, for example, there are specific websites that offer information about different types of jobs available in journalism.
- Websites like LinkedIn are actually turning into a really good networking tool. You can add professionals in your area of interest and network with people in your profession. Sites like Craigslist, can be good, but can also be very hard to wade through to find that one gem of a job in the midst of the rest. Again, when you’re looking into a Craigslist job make sure that you check up on the company before interviewing or getting involved.
- Clean up your social media presence. Employers are more and more frequently checking up on the internet presences of potential employees, unfair as this may seem. Make sure that your settings are on private and that your steamy erotic fiction can’t be linked to you.
4 Find a temp job, an internship, or part-time job in your chosen field
Part-time, temp, internship, or seasonal job. These are all good ways to get your foot in the door in a company or field that you’re interested in pursuing.
- Employers tend to look at the people they know. If you’ve worked for them in one of these types of jobs you’re more likely to be considered and considered favorably than someone they’ve only seen the resume of.
- These jobs (especially internships) are also a great place to network. Keep in contact with the people you work with, make sure they know the kinds of jobs you’re looking for, so that you’re first in their mind when they hear of something.
- Go to your local college and universities and check the bulletin boards outside the job resource office. Part-time, seasonal, and nanny jobs tend to be posted here rather than online or in the newspaper, because the employers are looking for a very specific type of person.
Part3 Networking Like a Professional
1 Take advantage of opportunities to network
Networking is one of the biggest and most important things you can do to look for a job, because it opens up opportunities and introduces you to people you might not otherwise have met. People are more likely to hire someone that they know, for instance.
- Get out and meet people. Networking requires that you go to events where you can network: conferences, events, trade shows, and business meet-ups. Keep an eye on the newspaper, or follow news about your area of work for opportunities to meet people.
- Sometimes people feel like networking is “cheating” or dishonest, but it really isn’t. People love to be asked for their opinion, or talk about what they do and it’s natural for people to want to help people that they know. There is nothing wrong with networking, especially if you’re as open to helping others as much as they are open to helping you.
Find places to network
There are lots of networking events, like conventions, meetings, mixers, etc. and you should definitely take advantage of those. Don’t limit yourself just to specific networking events, however, because many of the deepest and most useful connections form from unusual places.
- Depending on your area of work, there are lots of organizations dedicated to different job types and these organizations often have annual meetings and other types of conferences or conventions. If you can, check websites and magazines associated with your work; these will often have information about meeting opportunities.
- Look for people to talk to at the gym, while volunteering, at your coffee shop, on an airplane. One good thing about networking with people outside of work is that you are more likely to develop a personal connection, while still delving into work stuff (as that is one area people often talk about). Make the person you’re talking to feel like the most important person you’ve ever spoken to.
- Strike up conversation. One thing about networking is that you have to be able to start conversations yourself. A good way to do this is to introduce yourself briefly, and compliment the other person on something. Even better is if you can use that compliment to get them talking. For example: if you’re sitting next to someone on a plane, compliment her on the pin she’s wearing and ask her the story behind it. People love to tell stories.
3 Develop a strategy
To effectively network with potentially useful people you’ll need to develop an effective networking strategy. This means coming up with a way to get yourself across to people quickly. It also means knowing who you want to meet and a little about them.
- Find out who will be attending the networking events and make a list of the people you would most like to meet at the event. Try to find out a little about them before the event (not stalking or a creepy amount; just get a little idea about their work and their public interests).
- Practice your elevator speech, which basically says who you are and what you do (and perhaps what you’re hoping to do) in as natural a way as possible. You want it short and easy to remember. “I’m Mary-Ellen Jones and do copy editing for an up-and-coming internet company.” Look at every interaction as practice for networking, for getting better at striking up conversations with people.
- Make sure that you have your business cards with you, but don’t start thrusting them into everyone’s hands. People will just see you as here to get what you can and not actually interested in the networking part of networking (the part where you talk with people).
4 Have a specific image.
Like your elevator speech, you want to have a short, specific distillation of who you are. This makes it easier for people to remember you and to describe you to other people, like potential employers.
- Look again at those three qualities that you feel define your work experience, and make sure that those are the qualities that you highlight. This means specific examples, when it comes up. This is the sort of information that you give out in a natural seeming manner (examples of work difficulties that you overcame, projects you’ve done at work, etc.).
- For example: if your three qualities are hardworking, creative thinker, punctual, you would short examples of times when you used these qualities, either on their own on in conjunction with one another. You want these qualities to be what people remember about you and pass along.
5 Use networking as a two-way street.
If you’re just thinking of networking as what can this person do for me, you’re using it incorrectly. Networking goes both ways, what someone can do for you and what you can do for someone. Offering help to other people, will make them more likely to help you down the road.
- If you ask more questions and listen more than you talk people will remember you more favorably and will be more likely to recommend you or help you out further on.
- Ask the people you meet questions about themselves. Who are they? What do they do? What do they enjoy about their work? How did they end up in that job? You don’t need to get super personal about your questions, but you should show your interest in what they do.
6 Maintain your network
Once you have connected with people you need to maintain that connection. Constantly re-evaluate who you need to keep in your network and who isn’t as useful.
- Avoid burning bridges. You have no idea who might help you out in the future, and badmouthing people or having a public fall-out with someone can label you unfavorably in other people’s eyes.
Part4 Using Proper Job-Hunt Etiquette
1 Pick the right time
Fall is one of the best times, it seems, to look for a job. More companies seem to hire in fall, which may have to do with using the unspent money in their annual funds. Whatever the reason, this is a good time to really start getting your resumes out there.
- Obviously, pay attention to seasonal jobs, which usually start hiring before the holidays (November and early December). These can be a good way to get your foot in the door for a more permanent job later on, especially if you prove that you’re a good investment. Both retail and food service often have seasonal jobs in the winter and the summer. You can find good outdoor jobs in the summer, too (make sure to start look in late winter/early spring).
- Different jobs may have some different hiring spikes. For example: teachers seem to have hiring spikes in March, November, December and September (the start and end of the school year). On the other hand May and January seem to provide opportunities for folks looking to work in healthcare.
2 Make yourself unique
You need to find the ways to imprint yourself on the person or people who might potentially hire you. To do that you need to make sure that you show what unique combination of qualities and experience make you to best suited for a job.
- Personalize your cover letters, resumes, and interviews to the specific company that’s looking into hiring you. Generic and vague cover letters will make the interviewer less interested in you. Remember, you’re trying to answer why thiscompany, why thisjob, and why you. Having specific answers to those questions will go a long way towards making the company interested in you.
- Again, use the rule of three. People tend to limit themselves (not on purpose) to remembering only three things about whatever person they met, movie they watched, etc. Stick to having three qualities that you’re looking to push home and find ways to reiterate those qualities throughout your cover letter, your resume and your interview. Give specific examples of these qualities throughout your job seeking material.
- Find ways to get involved with the company or area of job interest. Try to get a tour of the company facilities, and get introduced to Human Resources, or volunteer for an event the company is sponsoring. Finding a way to put a face to a resume can make a huge difference in whether you’re hired or not.
3 During the interview process, be courteous to everyone
This means even the people on the lowest rung of the company ladder. You never know, your next opportunity could come from anywhere. Assume that anyone and everyone in the company you’re interviewing for could give the hiring manager feedback on whether they liked you.
4 Be politely persistent
The people who get the jobs are the people who don’t stop looking and don’t stop being persistent about the jobs that they want. There’s a fine line between persistent and annoying. The former will help you, the latter will hurt your chances.
- During the interview ask “what are the next steps in the process?” and “when may I follow up with you?” This gives you a better sense of how soon to contact them if you haven’t heard back.
- When you are following up with a potential job, make sure the people you’re speaking with know that you appreciate that their time is valuable. Say something like “I know you have a lot of work to do and I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to help me out with this.” You should always thank them for helping you.
- If you aren’t getting a response, the best bet is to check in three times and after that, acknowledge that you probably didn’t get the job. If you know someone within the company you can ask them where the company is in its hiring process and who is the best person to contact about getting a response.
5 Send a follow-up thank you
After any job interview, you should send a follow-up thank you message. A lot of people send emails these days, so if you want to stand out, you should consider sending a handwritten note.
- Make sure that your thank you note is as specific as possible. Thank the person who interviewed you, go over a few of the points that you discussed in the interview and why they were important to you, and reiterate your interest in the position.
- Although it may be a bit of overkill, you can send a thank you email and a more formal thank you note.
- A thank you note has the added benefit of showing that you’re very interested in the job, you’re polite, and reminding your interviewer about you.