Guest Author - Monica J. Foster
Whether you are entering the workforce for the first time, returning to the job market, or seeking advancement, the challenges of a job search are similar. Your goal is to find the position that best meets your needs. You must be qualified and able to sell yourself as the best applicant for the jobs for which you apply. Here are some tips that can help you in meeting your job search goal.
Have a strong sense of who you are. Know your assets and how to market them to employers. Be as confident as possible that you are the best applicant for the job and reflect that in all communications by voice and in writing.
Follow the current job trends. Take the initiative to maintain cutting edge skills that match changing employer requirements. Take classes that are not only of interest to you, but also bolster your workforce qualifications. Learn another language. Take a computer course. Join job networking groups.
Be prepared to increase your technical computer skills with various software and office equipment. Computer skills and offerings change quickly. Be flexible and ready. This always increases your marketability in the job market.
Conduct online job searches in addition to searches in the classifieds and personal referrals. Visit employer Web pages and key job sites such as:
• CareerPath: http://www.careerpath.com/
• Monster Board: http://www.monster.com/
• CareerMosaic: http://www.careermosaic.com/
• CareerBuilder: http://www.careerbuilder.com/
Consider doing informational interviews with various companies. This not only gets your presence and qualifications before a potential employer, but helps you practice and prepare for varied interview processes and styles. Practice one-on-one as well as panel interviews. You never know which job will require which style of interview.
Keep your resume current and have different copies of it prepared to meet different job objectives. Be ready to customize your resume to reflect the assets you bring to each job. Use key words that can be electronically scanned by potential employers to positions you want. Reflect continuous employment in your skill area and fill in gaps with education and volunteer work whenever possible. Summer employment should support your field of interest. Volunteer in your community or at your house of worship, or obtain temporary jobs if you are currently unemployed. Get out there and stay active to the best of your ability be seen and heard. Select the resume format that minimizes any gaps in employment. Seek the help of a professional resume writer or use a resume writing program to help you highlight your strengths in the best way possible.
Locating a job can be as full time an endeavor as actual employment. Give full attention to all that you do and be mindful of any errors in your information. Errors will knock you out of the running quickly. Keep your employment dates up to date as best you can. Call your previous employers to double check those dates.
It is crucial to have a written personal plan for growth opportunities when you are working. Seeking other opportunities does not stop simply because you are already employed. You are looking to grow in each opportunity you take on. Know what you must do each day to move closer to your goal for a promotion or the next job. Stay focused and motivated.
Maintain and continuously strive to broaden your network. If you are working, network inside the company. Join professional groups. Choose opportunities that match your skills and goals. Request and study annual reports of select companies. Reflect each company’s image in all communications with each company’s representatives. Make good use of your local library. Read trade journals and business publications in your chosen field. Get to know your chosen career track and its emerging trends inside and out.
Develop your personal presence. A pleasant personality is a necessary asset. Your eagerness to adapt and to be a team player is essential. Show flexibility and eagerness to move forward with emerging change. A sense of humor and positive attitude are essential as well.
You should only disclose a disability if you require an accommodation for an interview (such as asking for forms in alternate formats, locating an accessible interview site or if you think you might need an interpreter during the interview). Also when it comes to performing the essential functions of a particular job, you will need to discuss with your employer your accommodation necessities. Your resume and cover letter should focus on the abilities you bring to the job, not on your disability.
Look your best from head to toe. A clean wheelchair, crutches or cane also goes along way to set off your interview outfit. Dress conservatively. Be brief and to the point when answering interview questions. Maintain a demeanor of success and reflect the company image when you respond to the interviewer’s questions. Have full confidence in what you bring to the employer and show how your skills meet the company's specific hiring needs.
Also, be prepared to ask thoughtful questions about the job and the company. Show you are interested in the company by doing research on the company beforehand and never say anything negative. Follow up immediately after your interview with a thank you letter or e-mail transmission. This keeps you in the employer’s mind well after the interview and sets the standard for courteous correspondence and behavior.