This article is part of our 52 week journey through Bill’s latest book, “The Graduate’s Guide to Life and Money.” Each week, a full excerpt from his book will be presented from beginning to end. To find out more about his book, visit www.TheGraduatesGuide.com.
Last week we looked at some of the places to look for jobs. This week we will continue on the job search.
Okay, so what if you’ve tried the usual sources and still had no luck? There are still a few things you need to do. Consider this your first assignment:
1. Network. Tell people you are looking for a job. This includes friends from college, your professors, your parents’ friends, people in your church, and just about anyone else you know or meet. Don’t start rambling about your job search to random people on the subway, however, unless you are pursuing a career as a professional pest.
Think about it this way. If you worked somewhere and knew there were openings, or you knew someone who was hiring, would you help one of your friends if they asked? Of course you would. Most people will. What most people cannot do is read your mind. You have to ask first. You will be surprised how much that can help.
2. Call a placement agency. There are several employment firms that do more than just hire temporary workers. On the other hand, a temporary position would not be such a bad idea. After all, you can gain valuable experience at several different firms. Sometimes what begins as a temporary position can end up as a full-time career. Even getting a part-time job wouldn’t hurt, especially if the experience is relevant to your career aspirations. The added bonus is you still have plenty of free time to attend interviews.
3. Contact companies that interest you. Most available positions are not posted to the public. In fact, it seems the better the job, the less likely it is to get posted or advertised as an opening. This is more of a generalization than a rule, but it still makes sense. If you are an employer offering a very attractive position, you could probably fill it without even posting the job. Why? Because a qualified candidate has either asked their friend about positions and they referred them, or because several qualified people already contacted the employer previously to seek out potential openings. In the next chapter, we discuss how to send your resume to companies that have not listed any open positions.
While many companies now require a formal application process, having already made connections still gives you a huge advantage. At the very least, the hiring manager can look for your resume and application. Even better, they may choose to write the job announcement based on your resume, so you will already come out not only qualified, but among their top candidates.
You need to research some companies. If you know the career field that interests you, research companies in that field. You may have already visited a few companies’ web pages looking for job openings. You have to be prepared before you even write your cover letter. Find out as much as you can about each company.
You should create a list of interesting facts about them that interests you. For instance, you should know their primary industry, where they rank in that industry, annual revenue, number of employees, and so on. Most Web sites have a link that says “About the Company” or something similar. You can also visit www.hoovers.com, which will provide a great source of information. You may find out how and why the company began (what need they were trying to fill), who the original owners were, what the company mission is, and what their vision statement is. Getting these facts will come in handy later, as you send a resume and go on an interview.
The best way to begin is to set up a notebook and list each company you would like to apply to. List the contact person (if there is one), phone number, where you heard about the job opening, location of the company, etc. After that, note when you mailed your resume and any other correspondence. Leave space to list when letters were sent, such as follow up letters after the interview, as well as room for any telephone call details.
Once you have your notebook ready, you can move on to the next step. Make any necessary adjustments to your resume to reflect what the company is looking for in an employee and be sure to gear your cover letter to the specific job.
Next week you’ll find out what to do if you find yourself in the wrong job. You’ll also discover the one thing you should NOT do when you look for your next job. You’ll also learn where on the web you can go to try to match your interests with a career.
Bill Pratt is a former credit card executive turned student-advocate. He is the author of Extra Credit: The 7 Things Every College Student Needs to Know About Credit Debt & Ca$h and The Graduate’s Guide to Life and Money. Bill speaks at colleges to educate and entertain students about real-life issues in money, leadership and success. His goal is to help students succeed personally and financially so they can improve the lives of those around them. You can learn more at www.ExtraCreditBook.comor www.TheGraduatesGuide.com.