Since so many people I know are looking for work and some for their first real job, I have decided to put down a few of the rules that I have used in the past to get a job. Modify them to fit your situation and I guarantee you will get a job.
I will assume that you understand the basic rules of hygiene and the importance these have to a good first impression. Even things like fingernails. Every thing you know about those things and have control over you should.
You already have a job. Yes, you do. No, I do not mean by faith, although you should apply that everywhere. No your new job is now finding a job. You have to work at finding a job. God will help you, but faith without works is dead.
Set your clock to get up for work at 6 every morning. Dress for the job you want or better. Your boss or prospective boss should say to you, “You don’t have to dress up for this job.” rather than the other way around. Always look and act professional, no matter what and no matter what job. People DO judge you by how you look. A neat, clean appearance without strong perfumes or odors puts you one leg up on everyone else. It is both amazing and shocking to me the way people look and, er, well, smell, for interviews. It’s astonishing to me the way they are allowed to work, also. Take a little pride in yourself. You not only represent yourself, but your family, your church, and any organizations to which you belong.
Pray, eat a good healthy breakfast, then set out into the community with a plan. Break the city down into square blocks and start a pattern on a map. You should work as many hours a day on this job as you will be available for when you get a job.
Keep a notebook that is just for your work search. This is valuable and interesting later. Also print out or put in your notebook a list of personal and business references, and references that are relatives and are not relatives. Also keep a list of places you have worked, even if it was “just” volunteer work. A prospective employer may or may not contact your references so make sure everything is up to date and people know they may get a call about you. You can make up a resume for yourself also. If you do, keep it to one page. Having your references ready saves time borrowing a phone book, looking everybody up and hoping they are in there. Make sure your contact information is good. If you use a message phone or contact number, be sure to indicate this.
When filling out the applications, always take your time to write clearly and legibly, printing being preferable to longhand. No fancy scripts or calligraphy and beware of spelling. I was an assistant manager type to a woman who would take a stack of applications and tell me, “Go through this stack and if there are any spelling errors anywhere, they go in the discard pile. I would just as soon throw them away if I were allowed to.” Neatness does count.
If there is a place to put down hours of availability, think before you just write down, “any.” There might be shifts you would be unhappy with working. Putting down your availability correctly allows you to refer back to your application after you are hired.
Make a few notes in your book about the time and date and whom you turned the application in to. Be friendly and nice to the receptionist or secretarial type person. They are good people to know, not annoy. Find out the name of the person who actually hires and fires people and when they are usually in. At some places, the manager instructs the workers to keep people from doing this and encourage the application process. This is where being on friendly terms with your future co-workers is nice. Ask if at least you can have someone put your application on the person’s desk again.
Make a note or two or use a star system to tell yourself how bad you really want to work there. Again, make friends with any receptionists or secretarial types you meet.
After a week of doing this, you need to make your “rounds” again. You should have a large number of applications in. Now start the follow-ups. Go back and talk to everyone. Ask them if they have had time to consider your application. You will notice I said at the beginning that this was your job. Every day, you need to work actively on this plan. You can also watch the want ads in the paper and on local websites, but these are not best for a primary search. What can happen is a company may come up with an opening that is somewhat different from the qualifications you listed on your app and when you see the ad, you can update your information.
I have seen that computerized applications are big in some places. I have never had to deal with these, but I guess I would check the company’s website and do those from home if possible. I still think that even with the machines, there has to be a way to make that human contact that is necessary. Maybe talking to managers on duty and asking them about how the process works, I am not sure. Tell them the job-hunting advice you have received and ask them for suggestions. Somebody leave a comment on how you dealt with this.
You will need to make your “rounds” every week. You can start out applying at the “good places” first, but as time goes by, you should have an application in at every business in town. If there is a kind of work that you think you are just too good for and will not do, then obviously do not go there. You do not want money enough and you will not be taking this advice anyway.
One important note, which you would think is self-explanatory, but is not, is never lie on an app or a resume. Writing your qualifications in the best possible light is good, but never make stuff up. Also, if there is something in your background that is, er, uncomplimentary, you are best off disclosing it if they ask. The same company I just mentioned would not call references and former employers themselves, they used a professional third party investigating firm and would send back a report that included detailed descriptions of their conversations with your former supervisors. Even though most employers will not give a reference, good or bad, they will to a third party because then if you do not get the job because of what they say, they never told your prospective employer anything.
Special note to you skirt-girls: It is religious discrimination for a prospective employer not to hire you because you follow the Scriptures and will not wear men’s clothes; however, I would not make this an issue until after the job offer has been tendered. After you have the job, many places nowadays are very upscale, tolerant, and easy to work with on the issue. Some are not. Margaret was going to have to sue a Popeye’s franchise (which suit the ACLU declined to help on) because they told her she could not do the job in a skirt even though Pentecostals were working at other Popeye’s in town. She got a better offer elsewhere and nothing ever came of it, but discrimination does exist. One Arby’s around this same time did not even want to let her apply because they would have to modify their uniform regulations. Normally this is not a corporate policy, but a lazy local manager.
In this modern age where it is against the law in some places to say that homosexuality is a sin against God and nature and an abomination, which it is, we are going to have to make sure that people realize that we have rights, too.
Remember, as the Good Book says, “If ya don’t work, ya don’t eat!”
Posted by Soosan @ 12/15/2004 08:30 AM PST
Great advice, Herb! Regarding the electronic application process; many corporate offices are going to this method because it allows the computer to do the work of screening out completely unqualified applicants. If you know someone at the corporation, always ask if they can get your resume to the right person ‘by hand’ as well as submitting an electronic resume/application. Getting a job can also still be a “Who you know” game. The electronic system works by having a list of ‘keywords’ assigned to each job function. For example, Microsoft Office, management experience, self-motivated, 10-key by touch, etc. At the bottom of an electronic resume, it is appropriate to create a keyword list. Include any experience that you have that may not have ‘fit’ in the “Work Experience” section in the body of your resume.
One of the most valuable points you made was regarding the applicant’s “friendliness” to the receptionist, or administrative staff. A person might be shocked at how much control that individual has over when or even IF the resumes/applications get to the decision makers.
Again, great post, Herb!