How much do you really know about getting a job? Is it all about going to every restaurant, mall or grocery store within a mile of your home and filling out an application? Sending out the same résumé, with only the names changed to protect the innocent? Or are you one of those lucky ones who will have the job come to you (hint: daddy’s connection)?
Well, it doesn’t work that way because getting a job is a job. If you want to make some money, then you need to get down to business.
Where to start
Start with you. You know yourself better than any employer could ever know you. If you’re a people person, don’t apply for a job as a ticket taker in a parking garage; you’ll go nuts. If you’re the quiet type, don’t apply for a job in the emergency room; stress will be your best friend. You’ll need to adapt, not the other way around.
Know what you want. Are you heavily involved in church or a fraternity? If there is an activity that is dear to you, taking a job that will leave little to no time for it will have you calling in or not showing up for work. Don’t let that be how an employer (and future reference) remembers you.
Stay busy. Lying in bed will not get you hired. When I left my previous job, I was hurt by the way things ended, but to keep from dwelling on it I got busy. I spent more time with my nephew and volunteered to help clean the church I attend. Being around others keeps your mind clear to concentrate on the future, not the past.
Now that you’re ready, let people know you’re looking for work. That’s how Jeremy Webster, a nursing student at the University of Memphis, was able to land his job in one of the campus’ computer labs. "I heard about it through other students and faculty," he said.
Where to look
Visit the career center on campus. Not only are they linked to many job sites, such as MonsterTrak.com or CareerBuilder.com, but they also receive part-time and full-time job openings from different industries in the area, test interviewing skills, help with résumé writing and much more.
Check out local newspaper classified ads. If you live near a metropolitan area, consider looking there for employment. But you need to think long and hard about this; travel burnout could have you throwing in the towel within six months.
Keep track of all the companies you apply to. Write down the name, address, phone and fax numbers, contact person and other information. That way when they call you for an interview, you won’t be caught off guard.
Information not to give
Keep in mind what questions are illegal or inappropriate. "Questions about gender, race, or marital status are all illegal," said Robin Ryan, career counselor and author of "Winning Résumés." If you are asked these questions during an interview, Ryan suggests you answer them quickly. Remember that you have another choice and that’s not to answer them at all. She also advises applicants not to provide their Social Security numbers, especially with the rise of identity theft.
When asked why you left your previous employer on an application, just leave that space blank, Ryan said. "No one cares," she said. "List your accomplishments or your previous jobs." At the interview is where you explain what happened at your last job.
So you got an interview
Locate the business the day before the interview. You have been selling yourself from the time you filled out that application or sent that résumé. Being late to the interview is a green light for the interviewer to not buy what’s being offered; you. Get there ten minutes early, stop at the restroom and make sure you are all pulled together.
You’ll notice during the interview that there’s an elephant in the room that neither you nor the interviewer wants to acknowledge. That elephant is named salary requirement. When asked about salary requirements, be honest and realistic. If you need X amount of dollars to live the life you’re accustomed to, then state it, but don’t ask for an amount that will allow you to upgrade from a Ford Escort to a Hummer.
When will the hiring decision be made? If they do not tell you at the end of the interview, then you can expect to know within two business days. But as Ryan said, "If they want you, they’ll call."
Finally, write a thank you note before the interview and then drop it in the mail immediately after leaving. Let them know you are still interested in the position.
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