Monday, January 31, 2011

How To Find a Job: Guest Blogger, Bernadette Gilbey

Finding a new job is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have, yes you need to consider this as a job itself, set aside regular hours each day to look for employment. It is very tempting to want to take advantage of this time to catch up on housework, spend time with the kids, lunch or park time with some stay at home moms. Don’t do it, if you start hanging around with them you will quickly lose motivation you need to keep looking.

So how do you start? You’ll need to do some basic prep work ahead of time.

First let EVERYONE you know that you are looking. You never know where your next job will come from and there are many companies that list open positions internally before posting them to the public. Be prepared to always be asked about how it’s going and try to be tolerant of this question, it can get frustrating as the search continues but you do want to keep the word out that you’re still looking.

Make a resume, everyone needs one and it doesn’t matter what type of position you’re looking for this is a great chance to evaluate your skills. Leave that “objective” crap off the top because employers know that you’ve just changed that to fit whatever you’re applying for at the moment. Instead of an objective do a bullet point list of your skills and abilities. Your work history should just go back 10 years and most employers are not going to care that you worked after school at the mall. If it’s really old and not relevant leave it off. Make two resumes, one with and one without your salary history. Make a PDF of your resume, most computers can do this and you’ll avoid having your resume pop up looking like some format freak on their computers, PDFs can not be changed and things like those squiggly lines under your last name will vanish. Also you don’t need to put hobbies and clubs on your resume, employers don’t care that you love making cakes and you were on yearbook staff during your sophomore year because you liked that one guy.

Be honest with your skills and experiences – if you think you can fake your way through something you can’t. It is a tough job market out there, employers are receiving an avalanche of responses for open positions and right now they can cherry pick candidates. Companies are now calling past employers, testing skill levels, running credit and background checks on applicants.

Create a cover letter, this can be a brief introduction – keep it professional and don’t include personal details. This should state what you’re looking for, why you feel you’re a good fit for the vacant position. You’ll need to spell check both your cover letter and resume and let others read it and give you critique on it.

Get a real e-mail address, things like “live4mybaby”, “turtlesrock”, “funnysal2389” should not be used, go to gmail and make a new e-mail address just for job searching. This will also give you a clear separation from your regular life. Your new e-mail address should be simple, try to get your name if possible it’s just easier. If you’re name isn’t available and you have to add numbers don’t use your birth year, try using an underscore or a dash between your first and last name or reverse your name and go last name first, that may still be available. You’re a grown up, you’re asking these people to give you thousands of dollars a year and a proper e-mail address really is the very least you can do to show them some respect.

Lock down your Facebook, Twitter, blogs, My Space – seriously if you still use My Space you may have bigger problems then needing a new job. Employers are checking these sites, I’ve passed over numerous candidates after seeing status posts or hard partying pictures. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a Mom anyways and why do you have these things out there??? Seriously – lets do some untagging of photos and get those questionable status postings deleted. When you’re looking for a job you should put your profiles on complete security blocking everyone outside of your friends list from seeing anything related to your profile.

Now that you’ve taken down your tipsy karaoke pictures you’re all set to start looking.

Know what you’re looking for – part time, full time, contract? What benefits are you looking for? What’s the salary range you’ll need? How far are you willing to drive? These are all things you’ll need to figure out before hitting those job listings. Make a list of types of companies you want to work for – giant multinational corporations, small family owned businesses, service industry or retail. Most companies have a website with links to vacancies.

When looking on job sites use the advanced search function to get salary ranges and find a job within your commuting range. A lot of jobs will not list a pay rate but will say this is negotiable or based on qualifications – you can look at similar postings to guess a pay rate or do a search online for pay ranges by region for this type of work.

Don’t scatter shot and apply for everything. As a former staffing manager it was really frustrating to get applicants with no experience or didn’t even remotely meet the qualifications requested. Sure everyone has to start somewhere but now is not the time, if you’ve only ever been an junior level accountant don’t go gunning for controller ok? Keep a list of all jobs you’ve applied for and check off who you have and haven’t heard back from. This will help you keep track of the type of position you’re suited for based on what kind of feedback you get. When applying always include a brief note about yourself and why you’re applying in the e-mail, messages with just attachments lack effort and signal that you really don’t care.

DO NOT BE A STALKER!! Positions listed get TONS of responses back, you need to get your resume in the ring early but with such a large amount of responses do not expect to get back even a confirmation e-mail from a company. If you don’t hear anything back, don’t feel bad it just means they didn’t feel you were a good fit at the time. It’s not the end of the world, no need to drive by and shake your fist in rage at their office. Do not call or e-mail again, it seems desperate and needy and they will not call you back.

When you get called in for an interview make sure you’re dressed appropriately, if you’re interviewing for a job in retail you really don’t need a suit. Even if it doesn’t need it iron it again, check that your shoes don’t make some weird squeaking sound and bring a lint roller with you. Don’t go crazy with the make up and try to keep your handbag small and simple. Have an index card with your reference contact information and the addresses and phone numbers for your former employers, sure you can look it up on your phone but that phone is going to be left in the car right? You’re not going to take it in with you and text your friend while you’re waiting in the lobby right?? Right?? Have a little nibble before you leave the house, you don’t want your stomach growling in the middle of an interview – be careful its not something that would upset your stomach later, you can stop at Casa Garcia on the way home for some delicious nachos. Also it’s a good idea to stop in the restroom before going in, I did work at a place that had an applicant pee on a couch in the HR department which grossed out our office so much we had the couch removed and used that office only for storage in the future, you don’t want to be the person that causes that.

Always follow up with an e-mail later in the day thanking your interviewer for their time, its just common courtesy and will keep you fresh in their mind. Remember that most people do not like letting people down, if you don’t hear back from them you’re probably not getting a second interview or the job. It’s not your fault, its just easier if they ignore you and you’ll eventually get the hint and just fade into memory.

I hope some of this has helped you, remember that its ok to take time off during the job search. You need some time to yourself and no one is expecting you to do this 24 / 7.


This article was written by Guest Blogger, Bernadette Gilbey. Bernadette works as a Processing  Manager for a company in Encino. She has extensive experience hiring personnel, and due to the economy has conducted two personal job searches in the past few years.

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