Thursday, June 25, 2009

Three Major Steps in the Job Search Process

The Job Search Process in the 21st century has changed. Human emotions have not. Those unemployed feel the pain of not enough money and the fear associated with rejection and a labor market in chaos. While unemployed claims have reached staggering numbers and the length of eligibility has reached modern day records, the labor market is reflecting uncertainty and the whole population is clearly “soul searching.” It seems as if everyone has a close friend or relative or has been personally touched by the global economic crises.

There is a battle of wills that takes place in my job seeking groups. I let people vent. I acknowledge their experiences. I engage the audience. It is their group and we address their concerns. I empathize, sympathize and facilitate an honest interaction. My job is to dispel their negative misconceptions and move them towards a legitimate feeling of hope.

We can reduce the job search process to three major steps. First of course is self assessment. To sell a product, get an employer to pay for your services, you must have a thorough understanding of what you have to offer. I refer my customers to O*NET, the “nation’s primary source of occupational information,” sponsored by the US Department of Labor. http://online.onetcenter.org/ It is in the public domain (no cost) and is continually being updated. One of the first exercises I suggest is searching every occupation or job one has performed. O*NET fully describes the positions, tasks performed, tools used, knowledge and skills displayed, abilities needed, work activities, work content, work styles, work values and related occupations, et cetera. I have seen many different “paper and pencil” assessment tasks that ask people to identify specific job skills or transferable skills. O*NET facilitates the process and can be used like an “open book” exam. I find this section of O*NET to be equally valuable providing the words for people to construct the first draft of a resume. The bottom line is know as much as possible about your product before you begin to sell.

The second major step in the job search process is researching the labor market or potential employers. The average job seeker may spend a lot of time searching newspaper want ads or job bank postings. The value of these sources decreases as the labor supply increases. Low paying jobs and employers who do not take care of their workforce will recruit using these methods. Experts agree that better positions with the best employers are generally filled through personal contacts. That is why we teach people how to network. http://mlazarchick.com/50cent.html . I recommend every job seeker to make a list of everyone they know and contact them for leads. If someone you know sends you to someone they know, the trust factor is in place and you are closer to the job than anyone following a want ad. The value of speaking with people you know, about who they know, and what they know about the labor market, increases with the number of contacts you make.

I often suggest “shopping” for an employer. The Bureau of labor Statistics provides a broad range of information, which may provide clues to help us decide where to look. http://www.bls.gov/ . Debbie Flanagan has created a nice tutorial that explains the process of researching companies on line. http://www.learnwebskills.com/company/ . I advise job seekers to spend some time each day on Google http://google.com using various keywords to locate employer web sites or articles written about potential employers. The bottom line is to learn as much as possible about an employer before asking for a job.

The third major step in the job search process is marketing. The job seeker has fully analyzed the product and the potential employers. Now the task is to enter the employer’s consciousness and to do so while creating a favorable impression. We are being judged all the time, everywhere we travel and now in the 21st century we have added the electronic highway. Have you “Googled” your name? Do you have a Facebook, Linked-in or other networking site? Do you have your own web page? What messages are you sending out to the universe? Perhaps the most important component is faith in one’s product. I end each of my groups reminding participants that they are unique individuals. Marketing is about creating a need for our services and communicating our messages with confidence and enthusiasm. http://mlazarchick.com/marketing2009.html