A-TO-Z NEW JOB GUIDE
Use this A-to-Z list of careerrelated advice to kick-start your job search or provide ideas to keep your search moving in right direction.
A: Accomplishments: What have you excelled at in life? When you figure it out, tailor your job search to the talents that have helped you achieve your greatest accomplishment. If that accomplishment involves popping your shoulder in and out of its socket to a roomful of cheering fans, try again. If you’re aware of those strengths that helped lead you to past successes, you can shift your future plans to use those strengths to your advantage. B: Benefits: Not sure you should accept a job because of pay that’s lower than you expected? Keep in mind that your salary isn’t the only form of compensation. Don’t overlook unique benefits like onsite daycare, flexible hours or tuition reimbursement. Still, money talks. Don’t be fooled into thinking that bringing your dog to work is worth taking a job that pays you $7,000 less than the place across the street. C: Coordination: You need to research, network, improve and educate. Finding a job isn’t about singular things, like the perfect resume or a strong interview. It’s about all of the aspects of your job search working well together. Make sure you pay attention to all facets of your quest for a new career.
D: Directions: Want to be on time for your interview? Then get clear directions to your interview location. Getting lost on the way doesn’t make for casual preinterview conversation. It only reflects on your lack of preparation and your minorleague professionalism. E: Eye contact: If you’re interviewing for a job, it’s essential to maintain eye contact at all times. OK, don’t be creepy. If your interviewer takes a phone call, don’t stare her down. But when you’re talking, eye contact shows that you’re paying attention and are actively engaged with your interviewer. Ask any recruiter: A job prospect who glances out the window every 20 seconds expresses a lack of interest in the position. F: Facts: Are you sure you want to claim you were the manager of that local pizza place in Macomb, Illinois, when you were a student at Western Illinois University? After all, one phone call and your status as an unkempt pizza deliverer who drank Sprite directly out of the machine could be revealed. Tell the truth on your resume and during your interview. Small claims can be fact-checked fairly quickly so just stick to the facts. G: Goals: You can deny the touchyfeely aspects of goal-setting all you want but it’s important to have a blueprint for your life. Set short-term and long-term goals. Where do you want to be in one, two, five and 10 years in terms of salary, responsibilities and position? Use your answers as a roadmap for your current and future job searches. H: Handshake: When you meet with prospective employers or interviews, offer a firm handshake. It may seem corny but your handshake is indicative of your confidence and initiative. Don’t offer a limp hand when someone extends his or her hand to you. Be assertive, be professional and give a handshake that would make your grandfather proud. I: Individualized: While you may have an overall strategy you use when looking for a new job, it’s important to change how you approach certain employers. Tinker with your resume, change up your interview answers and make the small adjustments that may directly appeal to a potential employer. J: Join: Surround yourself with successful people in your field. Sign up for professional organizations — and not just
online. If you attend meet-ups with others in your field, you’ll encounter mentors and peers who can help advise you on career strategies. You also may be able to take classes and seminars through the group, which will help strengthen your skills. K: Knowledge: Be well informed for your job interview. Do some research and not just through the internet. In addition to finding out a company’s mission, its recent history, its goals and its priorities, talk to someone who works there. A quick conversation with a current or former employee might provide you with some unexpected-but-essential information. L: Location: Where you work impacts your physical and mental health. Do you need to work within 15 minutes of your home? Do you want to spend two hours stuck in traffic each day? Be sure to consider location when looking for a new job.
M: Money: As much as we are afraid to admit it, the almighty dollar still dictates the job search. Are you being paid what you’re worth? Job advisers often frown on lateral career moves but what’s so lateral about the same title and responsibilities if you’ve just increased your salary by $10,000?
N: Networking: Yes, the cliché is true — it is who you know. Create a list of people who can help you find a job, find them on LinkedIn and make a connection. Remember not to ask your contacts for a job directly. Instead, ask them if they have any advice or suggestions about your job search.
O: Organize: When you interview for a job, have any relevant documents with you in case your interviewer needs more information. She finds your work with Habitat for Humanity interesting? Well, here’s a letter of recommendation from the organization’s local liaison. P: Preparation: Be sure to brush up on your interview presentation. Don’t expect to improvise — come prepared. Practice in front of a mirror and tape yourself giving answers beforehand. Listen to your responses and adjust your voice, tone and speed accordingly. Q: Questions: Always come prepared with a list of questions about the company, the job and the potential for advancement. Don’t ask about vacation time or how long employees get for lunch. R: Resume: It should summarize your experience and illustrate why you are an ideal candidate for the position. Read it over, send it to others to check and continually revise it until it reflects the perfect summary of your past, present and potential.
S: Savings: It pays to have a savings account set up in case you find yourself out of work unexpectedly. Even a paycheck or two worth of savings can help you bridge the financial gap until you find a part-time job or begin collecting unemployment.
T: Thank you: Never overlook a thank-you letter — both an email and a handwritten, snail-mailed note. The digital-print, one-two combination reaffirms your interest in the job and shows potential employers a level of professionalism they’ll appreciate in a candidate.
U: Update: Update your resume, even if you’re working full time and adore your job. You never know when your situation may change. Update it and any online profiles when you score a major victory at work as well. You’ll describe your accomplishment in more vivid terms when it’s fresh in your mind. V: Volunteer: Whether you’re working or not, find a way to help others with one of your obvious or hidden talents. You’ll make new contacts, sharpen your skills and — most importantly — do your part to make the world a better place. W: Whining: Don’t do it if you’re out of a job. Your friends and family members know you’re out of work. If you want to discuss it with them, fine, but don’t sit there and complain. That goes for online as well. Whiny people online? Insufferable.
X: Xenophile: According to the dictionary, a xenophile is someone who embraces other cultures. Apply this philosophy to your working life. Find ways to appreciate companies, employees, methods and styles of work that aren’t in your comfort zone. You may find out some surprising things about yourself. Y: Yawn: Get more sleep. Not just before an interview, either. There’s a ton of information on sleep so there’s no excuse for not knowing its drawbacks and benefits. Get more sleep each and every night. You’ll be healthier, more alert and less irritable. Z: Zeal: Find a line of work that gives you a reason to get up each morning — something you’re passionate about. Don’t settle for something you absolutely hate when you can do something you truly love. You can also find something you like, and then slowly shape your career until you end up doing something you love. But let’s face it, “liking” a job is a great place to end up. There’s a balance between enjoying what you do and being able to pay the bills. Find your sweet spot.