Soliciting a job is like finding a spouse -- even after the search is over, there's still a long road ahead of you. But if you're up to the task, your willingness to work hard will prove to your advantage. If you show the same dedication in your job hunt as you plan to show once you're a paid employee, you'll be hired in no time.
Be prepared to pound the pavement
The first step to finding a job is getting out of the house! It’s difficult -- if not impossible -- to find full-time work if your search consists solely of sitting at home in your robe and house shoes, scrolling through want ads on the Internet. Apply for internships to increase your level of experience in your field, or volunteer with a company or organization in your industry, to get some on-the-job-training and seize valuable networking opportunities. If you can afford it, go back to school and increase your specialization. If you can’t afford it, seek out free workshops, conferences, speaking events and training session offered through community centers, libraries and non-profit organizations. If you impress the right people, you’ll likely meet someone who will help you get the paycheck you deserve.
Prepare answers to routine questions pertinent to your hunt, like, “What kind of jobs have you had? What are your skills? What kind of job are you looking for? What are your career goals?” If you answer any of these questions with, “I’ll take anything,” or “I don’t know,” or “I can’t remember,” you’re setting yourself up to fail. Have responses ready for explaining where you’ve been, where you are, where you’d like to be, and where you’re going, both educationally and professionally.
Contact family, friends and old colleagues, and tell them you’re looking for work. Perhaps they don’t have any leads, but you never know who they know. Ask them to spread the word about your skills and experience, and explain specifically what type of work you’re looking for. Send them a copy of your resume and cover letter, so they can forward your info to people in their network. Use social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and take advantage of career fairs and networking events in your town.
Be prepared for anything. You never know who you might bump into, so always carry yourself in a professional, respectful manner -- even after work-day hours -- and keep business cards handy. If you happen upon a help-wanted sign, be prepared by keeping pertinent application, such as the names, address and phone numbers of past employers and current references, on hand.
Adjust your outlook for success. It’s a tall order, but to successfully solicit a job, it's important to display a positive attitude. Be personable yet professional, confident yet humble, and focused yet flexible. Be a good listener, be respectful, and be willing to learn. You should also be your own advocate. After filling out applications or sitting through interviews, say, “I’m really interested in this position. What is the next step?” According to USNews.com, doing so demonstrates to employers that you’re a serious candidate.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.