The holiday season is one of the worst seasons to find yourself without a job. And while snatching up a temporary holiday job can help pay the bills until you find something else, oftentimes it is not a long term solution. Last week was our final Financial/Family Stability Class for our Fall Semester and the topic was Jobs. Matt Morgan taught the class the essential keys to begin looking for a job, how to write a resume, how to prepare for an interview, and where to shop for less.
First Matt began talking about how to successfully market yourself, and he gave four steps everyone should follow. You have to first change your mindset and look at yourself as the product and potential employers as consumers. If you make yourself the only/best/most logical option to fulfill their need, chances are they just might hire you! Second, you have to start networking. The more people you know the more opportunities you will have. There are many different ways you can accomplish this, whether it is through social networking online, joining local clubs/groups, or just making it known to all your friends and family that you are looking for a job. When people hear that you are looking, they are more likely to suggest you to employers and to listen for job opportunities. This is a very valuable resource because you can not be in two places at once or hear everything that is going on. Another important part of networking is to volunteer. Volunteering shows that you dependable, willing to work, and that you have an idea of what is going on in the world, which employers love. The third step is to develop an elevator speech. This is basically a sales pitch that can be delivered during a typical elevator ride, but sums up your resume and gives two or three of your strongest skills. The key to the elevator speech is to make it sound casual and unrehearsed. I will give you a sample elevator speech, just to help you write your own. “Hi my name is Sasha Renee. I graduated from college last May and I am currently an AmeriCorps volunteer at Amarillo Habitat for Humanity where I work in Family Services. I love my job at Habitat because it enables me to work closely with the Partner Families and those interested in joining our program. I also work with the Financial/Family Stability Classes and I am in charge of recruiting teachers and getting donates to keep our classes going.” It’s as simple as that! The fourth key is to learn patience. Sometimes it takes a long time for something to come around, but if you get discouraged or impatient right off the bat, you will give up and lose out on vital opportunities.
The second important item Matt talked about was the resume. He provided a list of do’s and don’ts that I will list below, but he also talked about tailoring each resume you send out. Gone are the days where one size fits all. Employers want to know what you have to offer them and how you will benefit their company.
Resume Do’s and Don’ts for Today’s Job Market
1. DO use your resume as a marketing tool.
2. DO edit your resume based on the job for which you are applying.
3. DO research what message your resume should send.
4. DO edit your resume for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors.
5. DO use strong language.
6. DO highlight your skills and capabilities.
7. DO choose interesting headings.
8. DO use numbers to highlight specific accomplishments.
9. DO leave “white space.”
10. DO use standard fonts and sizes.
1. DO NOT use personal pronouns such as “I” or “me”.
2. DO NOT flatter yourself with adjectives—let your accomplishments speak for themselves.
3. DO NOT be over-modest.
4. DO NOT be too wordy—most resumes should only be 1 or 2 pages.
5. DO NOT put previous salaries or current salary requirements.
6. DO NOT list references or say that they are available upon request.
7. DO NOT put dates of education if you feel age could be a problem.
8. DO NOT fold resumes in the mail—use a large, flat envelope.
The third thing Matt talked about was the interview. First, congratulate yourself on getting an interview and then you better start preparing. If you did not research the company before submitting your resume, now is the time to do that. Employers want to know that you took the time and interest to look into their company. Your answers will be better tailored to the company and that also gives you an opportunity to come up with a few good questions to show your interest. Next practice answering interview questions with yourself in the mirror. Not only will this help you answer tough questions, but you can practice maintaining eye contact. A few other tips Matt shared are always bring another, unfolded, copy of your resume and references, dress a step above what the company requires, have a firm handshake, and remember to smile.
The final part of Matt’s class focused on what to wear. His suggestion is to dress a step above what is usually worn by the other employees. Also, be careful about your choice of jewelry and perfume. You do not want to distract from your answers. He also made it a point to talk about where to get clothes to wear. You do not have to spend a fortune on something to wear, especially if it is just for an interview. Some great places to go shopping include the Downtown Women’s Center Thrift City, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and any other thrift or consignment store in the area. While some consignment stores are still pricey, you can always try to bargain. However, unlike other stores, you will not be able to pick up something you like and then look for your size. Most stores are very organized and already have things sorted by size and sometimes even by color, which makes it easier to meet your needs. Just be prepared to spend little bit more time browsing then you would otherwise. Happy Job Hunting!