Employers hire people they know first, pretty much all the time, everywhere. It is difficult to invest in an unknown entity. Professional employment counselors have been teaching “Networking” for decades as the primary mechanism for securing decent paying good jobs. 50 Cent How the Get a Job Lecture That has not changed, but today the availability of information has changed the job search process dramatically. Today we have the Electronic Highway!
The traditional job search process is chaotic, filled with illusions and has been described as designed to screen people out of consideration in an attempt to reach a manageable number to actually interview. People tell me that responding to newspaper ads and job bank postings or sending unsolicited resumes is frustrating and generally do not provide a decent return for time and money expended.
At our Career Center I advocate a three step approach to job seeking: Education, Marketing & Closing the Deal.
Education includes the upgrading of skills, understanding what we have to “sell” and how we effectively search the labor market.
We must at minimum ensure that every job seeker is computer literate. We teach a basic how to use the computer class. We focus on how to complete an on-line application and construct short bios and resumes. O*NET is a great tool, in the public domain (no cost) and is continually being updated. I suggest 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. O*NET provides words to develop quality personal descriptions. To upgrade skills, Goodwill Community Foundation International offers an impressive group of free tutorials. We educate and build confidence in our job seekers and help them sell themselves as evolving and capable of moving in many directions. Of course we always encourage seeking out grants to finish degrees or attain certifications for those who have the will, the time and income to pursue more formal education.
While some employers are not successfully competing, others are coming into existence seeking talent. Debbie Flanagan’s tutorial or the Riley Guide provide more than enough information to research businesses. Personally I suggest “Google” searching employers by name or searching with various combinations of keywords. The more we know about potential employers, the closer we are to being hired. I advocate shopping for an employer.
The 21st century has brought the concept of “Web Presence” to consider. Especially for better paying positions, employers increasingly “Google” the name of people they are considering. They look on “Linked-in” and similar networking sites. There is a strong trend emerging of employers searching the internet to learn as much as possible about an individual before making an offer. This is actually good news because technology today really allows us to demonstrate who we are and what we are capable of achieving. We can have our own professional looking website, with a personal domain name, for less than $10 a month (i.e., mlazarchick.com. We can Blog our thoughts and establish a level of expertise in an area where we feel comfortable (i.e., Employment Counseling for the 21st Century. Sites like Lulu will help us create and publish a book. Your own radio show can be broadcast on line using My Blog Radio or even your own television program using U Stream TV . Methods of communication are evolving at an incredible speed. Sites like Mashable show us how to most effectively use “social networking” tools on line. We are limited only by the extent of our personal creativity.
Closing the Deal
We are being judged all the time and everyone we encounter, potentially, can lead us to a source of income. I suggest business cards with name, e-mail address, telephone number and a quote or slogan expressing something about who we are. The task is to enter the consciousness of potential employers, while creating a favorable impression. In job clubs we practice and videotape, so job seekers can see their delivery and refine their presentations. Eventually the answers to who we are and what we do are succinct, flowing smoothly and effortlessly. We have discussed values and helped people come to terms with the direction they really want to take their life. When they get to a truly appropriate opportunity, it is easy to project confidence and enthusiasm. And, in the final interview they must remember one basic concept. Employers hire people that they like. A genuine, honest, positive, person to person discussion from the heart, will usually close the deal.