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Job-Hunting Strategies

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By the time you finish school you should have selected a probable career route and considered the type of organization in which you want to work. Many books and magazines provide occupational information. The Occupational Outlook Handbook, found in most libraries and school guidance offices, has helpful job descriptions and suggestions. Don't overlook government literature that describes a wide range of employment opportunities. Learn about government jobs in your state and neighboring ones. That may be where you find your career. There's one out there for everyone who wants work and who prepares for it.

Employment agencies and temporary-help companies provide fill-in jobs that can provide a great deal of experience while you are looking for that special opening. Temporary-help services can place you in the type of firms in which you ultimately want to work. This sort of experience is especially helpful if you are young and inexperienced. Some entry-level jobs require no specific skills and give you a chance to gain self-confidence.


Today, most large companies use temporary employees and the status of temporary employees has risen. Educational levels of people working for temporary-help companies have increased. In addition, more professional and technical workers, such as accountants and computer analysts, are available on a temporary, "as-needed," or "just-in-time" basis. This development, along with the unprecedented influx of professionals of all ages who were downsized from their full-time jobs, has also helped improve the standard of temporary employment.

There are many advantages to working for a temporary-help company. A worker can explore the environments and cultures of different companies and can gain experience in many kinds of structures. Temporary workers are often offered permanent jobs or references for other job applications. It's important to realize that some temporary companies require an employee to work for them for a minimum period of time-perhaps two or three months. However, if a company offers a full-time job that the temporary employee wants to accept, an arrangement can be made with the temporary company.

Another advantage for workers who have recently relocated is that temporary firms send their workers to various parts of the city, if the workers so desire. You can make arrangements to work only in a certain area, but if you are new in town, you may want to try out various locations. In this way you will get to know the transportation system, the characteristics of various neighborhoods, and the travel time required from your home.

It's wise to get basic information before you begin an assignment. Ask about travel routes, public transportation, the safety of various areas, and where to eat lunch. The agent at the temporary employment firm can advise you. If that person seems short on information, ask another. Be sure you know where you are going and the basic facts about the area before you start out. A temporary job can be an adventure in miniature, but it can be too much of an adventure if you find yourself in a strange neighborhood at 5:00 P.M. on a winter evening with no buses running and no pay phones within sight. If you decide to explore the job market via the temporary employment route, make a list of the information you will need, and be sure your questions are answered before you leave on the assignment.

For the prospective manager, getting early work experience with a temporary company has the special advantage of allowing you to observe many different management techniques and information technology systems in action. Obviously, you will not be able to study them in depth, but you will see the effects of management that is too strict, too loose, too uninformed, or too hasty. You can observe carefully and learn a great deal in a short time, if you become sophisticated enough to quietly make comparisons and remember what you observe. This is not to say that you can pry into a company's affairs; even if you work for a company for a single day, you still have an ethical responsibility to observe the rights of confidentiality. However, you have a right to think about what you experience, and you can make the most of it for your own education. For additional information on temporary work, see VGM's Guide to Temporary Employment.


Employment agencies are another way to find your first job. Some employment and search firm agencies handle only special job categories. These may include travel agents, computer operators, engineers, programmers, and property managers, or at higher levels, even candidates for boards of directors. Some search firms specialize in helping corporations find qualified members of industrial, financial, and business boards.

Other sources of job information are newspapers, campus bulletin boards, campus placement offices, and friends and relatives. A large percentage of job seekers get their best leads through other people. An annual average of about 270,000 openings for managers and administrators is predicted for the next few years. This includes bank officials, financial managers, wholesale and retail buyers, shippers of farm products, building managers, and corporate department managers. On the whole, the market for management trainees continues to be promising.


Begin with a job-hunting plan that includes such items as type of community in which you want to work (size of the town, climate), the type of organization or industry you prefer and are most prepared to enter, and the corporate department (marketing, finance, production) in which you want to begin. Write out the information so that you can see and think about it. Consider why you want to work in the type of firm you selected and why you want to move to another area, if you do. If your plan means moving to another part of the country, subscribe to a newspaper from that area, especially the Sunday edition, and watch classified ads. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times carry a wide range of classified ads that include jobs for areas all over the country.


When you begin to look for a job, be optimistic and confident. Enjoy the experience, confident that someplace there is a right job for you. If you approach job hunting with fear and worry, you will communicate some of your anxiety and uncertainty. If you do not have confidence in yourself, how can you expect others to develop confidence in your ability? You are not the first person to go job hunting. Everyone who works has had the experience, including the person who interviews you.

If your school has an employment interview center, register with it. If it has a vocational guidance center, use it. Surf the Internet at home or at your local library. E-mail potential contacts and attach resume files. The more people who talk to you about your job hunt, the more points of view you get.

The career development office at your school may suggest that you take a battery of tests (personality, aptitude, interest, and so forth). Do not shy away from them. Consider them to be another learning experience. Large corporations sometimes use similar tests when trying to match individuals with available opportunities. It is possible that some published and standardized tests you take in the vocational guidance clinic are also used by corporations that interest you, so welcome any chance to take these tests. In fact, you might want to read about published and standardized test in the library.

Taking tests may be compared to falling off a horse. The more experience you have, the less likely you are to be upset by it. Standardized tests help you learn about yourself-your abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Read newspaper ads and register with private, public, or civil service, employment agencies; school placement centers; and in-company employment departments. Even the yellow pages of a phone book or the city directory may help you find the right employer.

Check the trade journals, and when you read about a company that sounds good to you, write to them, even if they are not advertising the type of job you want. You might make a list of companies that interest you, using Dun and Bradstreet and similar business directories in the library. Mail a cover letter and a resume to the attention of the personnel manager, and ask for an interview. Include your phone number and the qualifying statement that you will call him or her in a week if you don't hear anything first. The old days of a simple cover letter with an expected return call from the potential employer have passed. Personnel managers don't have the time to follow up on people they are not interested in from the start, so you need to do everything within your power to give yourself the edge to actually getting an interview.

When replying to a newspaper ad, since a post office number is usually the only address given, emphasize your desire to have an interview, to talk with the employer personally. Make arranging an interview with the hiring official easy by listing several dates and specific times when you are available.

When you register with an employment agency, whether private or public, you will be given an application form to complete. Read it through so that you understand the fee expected (if any) and other terms included. Then, in ink or with a typewriter, if one is available, complete the form as accurately and neatly as possible. You may want to attach a copy of your full resume.

Many employment agencies belong to the National Association of Personnel Services (formerly, the National Association of Personnel Consultants), headquartered at 3133 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305 (


After you find an advertisement or get a job lead, follow these steps:
  1. Call the business and make an appointment for a job interview. If the ad gives only a box number, write for an appointment. Enclose a copy of your resume.

  2. Proceed to the appointment appropriately dressed and ready to answer questions. Be prepared to explain why you are applying for that particular job.

  3. If you are interviewed by several people, talk to counselors, or are taken to lunch or for a coffee break, continue to answer questions frankly but as briefly as possible. Be friendly, but keep a professional distance.

  4. If you are asked to take a standardized test, do so as graciously as possible. Of course, ask necessary clarification questions.

  5. If you are given an application form, use a pen (your own) and block print the items, especially if your handwriting is hard to read.

Every day hundreds of people are out interviewing or starting new careers. There are thousands of opportunities, and one of them is for you. Occasionally the only job available is part-time or seasonal. If you like the company, take the job, even if it is not quite what you want. Do not turn down a job because it is not in the department you prefer. You never know what a job may lead to, especially if it is with the type of company that interests you.

Some employment agencies specialize in supplying businesses with part-time, fill-in employees. If you have free time, sign up and interview with such an agency. It is an excellent way to get experience and to observe a variety of job settings.

If you get a promising job offer while still in school, think care-fully before you decide to drop out of school to take it. Is this the type of job you want for the rest of your life? There are many years and opportunities ahead of you. Think about your personal preferences, goals, and dreams. Will the job being offered help you fulfill your dreams?

Each day brings new opportunities. Envision the years ahead. What will you be doing in twenty years, and what do you want to do between now and then? The future is yours. You can do much to mold and control it if you think ahead, planning and preparing so that you can take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Don't let yourself become bogged down with idle companions, time-killing pastimes, lazy habits, or self-pity. Stay on top, realizing that there will be some disappointments and setbacks. Use even these as learning situations and stepping-stones, so that when you reach your later years, you can look back with few regrets and feel good about your career and your life.
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By using Employment Crossing, I was able to find a job that I was qualified for and a place that I wanted to work at.
Madison Currin - Greenville, NC
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