After being unemployed since the end of last year, I've learned quite a bit about searching for job. I thought this section could do with a bit of a how to guide which covers looking for work, applying for the job, attending the interview and following up.
Obviously I'm just compiling what I know/what I've learned, so please feel free to post up anything I've missed or correct me where you think I may be wrong.
Be prepared to put in the hard yards- This is probably the most important part of searching for work. Rarely will a job just fall in your lap (and if it does, your damn lucky!) I suggest you set aside a certain time each week in which you will look for work. For instance, I set aside an hour each weekday morning to check job sites (such as seek.com, mycareer.com to name a few) and obviously I was prepared to put in extra time if I found a job I could apply for.
Do your research- Sit down and make a list of the sorts of jobs you think you'd be keen on/good at. What might also help is if you make a list of the skills you have and what jobs you know that require those skills. Think laterally- this will not only help you identify personal skills you may have forgotten you had, but it might help you identify a new career path you didn't think you had the experience or qualifications for. For example, during my time working at Coles I was trained in every department. When I sat down and thought about my skills, I realised I could add all deli duties, fruit and veg preparation, as well as meat packing experience in the butchery. Now, in thinkin laterally, this means that not only could I apply for customer service jobs, but I also had the experience to apply for a job in a deli, in a fruit and veg shop/food store or I could even apply to be a butchers assistant. Sure these aren't glamourous jobs- but I guess it comes down to how desperate for work you are. Dodgy example? Yes... But remember- think long and hard!
Register an account with online job sites- I used to waste so much time each day sifting through the hundreds of jobs on seek.com until someone suggested I get my own account. Now, I select the critera and seek emails me daily with jobs I'm qualified for. This has narrowed the pool down from hundreds of irrelevant jobs to ones I'm suitable for- and it now takes me 10 mins to check out newly listed jobs, as oppose to hours. This service is invaluable- REGISTER NOW!
Register with an employment agency- I hate employment agencies, but facts are facts- there are thousands of jobs out there that employment consultants can't find people to fill. Pick up the phone book and look up recruitment agencies. Phone ahead, ask what the criteria is to join their agency and what you need to bring along when you come in person. Now, I cannot stress enough that you need to treat your first point of contact like an initial job interview. Think about it- you turn up in boardies and thongs like you've just come to the beach, you've done no research on the agency and you get there and ask them for a job. Do you think they're going to take you seriously? I think not. Dress to impress, do your research, phone ahead and make sure you have your ID, your resume and other information they may require when you go in in person. Also, BE NICE TO THE RECEPTIONIST- first impressions count.
Canvass businesses you think you'd like to work for- Okay, so a lot of large companies do their recruitment online, but this doesn't mean you can't type yourself up a canvass letter, find out who the HR manager is and forward your letter and resume onto him or her in hopes they just might need someone now or a few weeks/months down the track.
Applying for your dream job:
Have a standard cover letter- Think about the sorts of jobs you are applying for and then write yourself a basic cover letter for that field. For example, I was in the market for two different sorts of jobs- a "job for the right now" in retail/customer service and a job which would allow me to use my degree as a graduate Public Relations Practitioner. I typed up a basic cover letter for my retail jobs, out lining my skills etc as well as one for my PR jobs and saved them to my computer. Now, what this means is that when I see a job I want to apply for all it takes is less then 2 mins to copy in the details of the job, make sure I'm meeting the criteria and voila- away goes my application in under 5 minutes! HOW EASY IS THAT! I cannot stress enough how important this step is. You'll not only save yourself time, but you'll save yourself frustration too! I should also note that your cover letter is your chance to SELL YOURSELF (now get your minds out of the gutter lol) and let your personality shine through. Tell them why you think you can do the job, be confident in your abilities and tell them how much of an asset you will be to their company!
Have your resume prepared- Your resume should outline your personal details, your education/qualifications, your work history, and work experience you've done, your duties at your most recent job, your skills and AT LEAST 3 referees. You might also like to include your hobbies, personal qualities, a career objective etc. Your resume should ideally be 2-3 pages. Employers are very fussy. If its too short, they'll toss it out. If its too long, they'll toss it out. If its the wrong font, they'll toss it out. If there's spelling mistakes, they'll toss it out. Okay, I think you get the idea...
Have someone proof read your resume- Any official document you write you should proof read yourself AT LEAST 3 times looking for spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes etc. After doing this, have someone you know do it for you. No doubt they'll pick up on something we missed- it happens. I've had a bit of experience with editing and proof reading, so if your stuck- gimme a PM and I will try to help you out
Have AT LEAST 3 referees and make sure they know you are applying for work- I was told by a job agency that I should have at least 3 referees which are work related. Please, whatever you do, make sure they know you are applying for work, and make sure they're going to give you a glowing reference. Its perfectly okay to ask a referee what they plan to say about you.
Addressing the essential criteria- First things first, if a job has essential criteria- don't bother applying if you do not meet the criteria- you'll only waste your time and theirs. Desirable criteria on the other hand you don't HAVE to meet to apply, so by all means- go for it! Now, we need to make sure we address the criteria properly. If there is a long list, I suggest you make small references to these in your cover letter, but also write an additional document known as a Selection Criteria Statement. This follows AFTER your cover letter but BEFORE your resume. Not sure what this is? Hold tight- I'll post up a copy of one that I have written.
So you've landed yourself an all important interview? Great! Lets knock em dead!
Be prepared- There's nothing worse then someone turning up to an interview and not knowing about the role, the company, not having put much thought or effort in at all. If your not prepared to do a bit of research, you probably won't get the job- simple. Employers don't want to employ someone who's not prepared to put in some effort. What I suggest is you google the company, the role you are applying for. If the company has a mission statement- learn it. If a company is involved in community initiatives- learn what they are. Make sense? This way, when they ask you why you want to work for the company or something similar, it will show you have taken the time to learn about them.
Practice/role play with a friend- If you are prone to nervousness during interviews- and lets face it, who isn't- then rehearse some answers. We all know the basic questions companies are likely to ask, so write down some answers to these and rehearse them. Ask a friend to role play with you. As stupid as it sounds, it helps. And if you are too nervous to do that- the mirror is the next best thing. I've got a list somewhere of common questions- I'll see if I can find them and post them up.
Prepare your outfit the night before- Don't leave it till the last minute to realise there's a hole in your pants, or they're not washed. Prepare what you want to wear the night before- MEN INCLUDED. Also, its better to be over dressed, then under dressed.
BE EARLY- I'm not talking hours early- but 15 minutes early is good. Shows you are keen and punctual. Also, it helps to google the address the night before, make sure you know where you are going, where there is parking etc. Make sure you have coin for parking meters too- the last thing you want is a parking fine because that will only stress you out and screw up your chances at the interview.
Take a copy of your resume-You might of already given them your resume, but take a fresh copy with you. Things happen, people misplace things.
SMILE- Be happy, be confident, smile, make eye contact. Remember, you wouldn't of gotten this far if they didn't think you could do the job- now is the chance to let your personality shine. What I have learnt over the past 3 months of job searching is that usually with most major companies, by the time you arrive at your face to face interview basically all they want to do i meet you, suss out your personality and see if they "gel" with you and if they can work along side you. Pretty much, there are phone interviews, online aptitude tests etc- which suss out your suitability for the role before needing to meet in person.
Have at least two questions prepared to ask- This shows interest. DO NOT ASK ABOUT MONEY. A suggested question might be "When will I hear from you?", "Is there chance for career progression?" or something along these lines.
Maintain eye contact with all interviewers- I guess this is pretty self explanatory, but particularly with panel interviews, people have a tendency to focus and speak to one person. Make sure you look at all interviews and make contact. Also, if you have any nervous habits- try to identify these and not do them as they can be off putting to the interviewer.
So, you've had the interview and now its the nervous wait? What do you do?
Call them- Obviously wait past the time in which they said they would call you/get back to you, and if they haven't called- call them. Don't be scared. This shows your keen. Often this is how a job is won.
If you're unsuccessful- Ask why. There's no shame in wanting to know the reasons why you didn't get the job. Yep, its scary as hell because its rejection and no one likes rejection... but if you are continually getting to the interview phase and not getting the job- don't you want to know why? Also, ask them to keep you in mind for future jobs- it can't hurt right?
This is all I can think of for now- there's heaps more. Will update when my brain is more switched on
Note: I don't claim to be an expert, but this is how I landed myself my new job Job searching is hard work, and for a lot of us we're not used to doing it/have no experience in applying for jobs.
Hope this helps,