Monday, January 15, 2018

Four Job Searching Hints You May Not Have Heard Before

Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2018
Images from the Internet

When searching for a job it’s good to realize that the way forward is not black and white, nor one sided. There are many ways to look at your approach, and further steps. To paraphrase what they say in Twelve Step programs, not all of it is in your power, which leads me to my first point:

When you go on a job interview, and the person behind the desk seems a bit tense, if they answer the phone in the middle of your speaking, or you feel like they are trying to rush you, do not take that personally. Odds are, as they probably manage a department or section, they are also under a lot of stress and probably have meetings to attend or need to get immediate business done. This does not include if you are asked something inappropriate, such as age, religion, orientation, etc.; I’m referring more towards mood. During one interview I had, the person doing the hiring was unconsciously moving their finger in a circular pattern, as if to say, “Move it along.” Some might have felt they did not care about me and wanted me out of there to get to the next candidate. Well, I was hired at that company.

For another, more recent interview, it was for a large financial firm. The conference felt like it was going great: I was there for half an hour, and we were smiling and it seemed very positive. Then I was asked where I saw myself in five years. My answer was, “It would be nice to move up at some point,” indicating I am a hard worker and intend to stay at the job rather than move on. The response I received from one of the two people in the room doing the interviewing was, “The only place to move up is my job.” Two more quick questions and I was out the door.

After that, I took a couple of computer classes to update my skills, and towards the end of the second and final course, the instructor asked everyone what their plans were for their new-found skills. When it was my turn, I responded, “I’ve worked in an office for most of my life, and I assume I’ll continue to do that, but I think teaching a class like this would be fun.” Two days later I was given the opportunity to be the instructor for a three-hours-a-week night class for by that instructor. Having never taught before, I naturally said, “Yes.” I received decent evaluations from the class, so I was given all the night classes for three months. Then the instructor left, and I applied for the job. Being the inside candidate, I was hired on permanently.

In both cases, of the financial firm and the computer class, I pretty much gave the same answer, but the responses were polar opposites: one received my comment as a threat, the other as an opportunity. As all things are subjective, this was how they heard it, which had little to do with me. Therefore, it is pointless to take it personally.

When talking about part-time, temporary or casual positions, most people do not take them seriously. I find this to be a mistake. Nearly all the employment I have had in my life had started out that way. I maintain that working hard at these kinds of positions are important and can lead to much better things for a few reasons.

In today’s work culture, it’s getting harder to find full-time jobs that are permanent right from the start. When a worker is hired as a part-time, temp or casual, it gives the employer a chance to see what kind of worker you are, which can lead to something more permanent. For example, I once worked for a media company where I was hired for one week as a temp. For those 5 days, all I did was call radio stations across the United States and asked them if they covered medical topic stories, checking yes or no on a spreadsheet. A silly job, but I worked hard at it, and a couple of months afterwards, I was called by the company and offered a position as a Data Processer, because they were happy with what I did with the radio stations.

Just because you are hired as a part-time, temp or casual for a certain position, does not mean that is where you will end up. You have heard about the Hidden Job Market? Those are jobs that never make it to the public sphere, and are usually filled internally. When you work as a part-time, temp or casual, you still have access to the internal listings, and if you make a good impression, that puts you in a good position as the inside candidate.

When you look at a job listing, it may be quite long. Do not panic; do not get discouraged. Other than certifications (e.g., a truck driver’s license, Food Safety, Fall Protection), it is important to think of the ad as a wish list. The longer the notification, the better the odds are that anyone applying will not have all of the requirements requested. In fact, if there are ten items listed and you can do the core three, they will probably take you over the person who has only the other seven.

For example, let’s say the ad requires knowledge of Word, Excel and Access. Odds are they will hire someone who knows Word and Excel over someone who knows Word and Access. It all comes down to the needs of the company, and since that probably will not be known beforehand, you have nothing to lose by trying. Another example is if the ad states “five years’ experience.” If you have a good record of keeping jobs for long periods, there is a good chance they will take you with three years’ experience over someone with five years’, but had seven jobs over that time period.

This is also a good time to look at transferable skills. For instance, if the ad states the candidate must organize events, you may think, “I’ve never done that.” However, if you have put together a wedding, a child’s birthday, a parent’s anniversary, then you have probably worked harder organizing an event than the company will require, since those who came before you will have already set up the procedures. All you would be required is to fill in the blanks. They probably reuse the same hall, the same caterer, etc., so you will have all the contacts pre-set.

If you come across any company that offers to find you a job for a fee, tread carefully and think before you respond. The standard is that fees are paid by an employer, not the employee. As an example, there is a company, whose name I will not mention because they are just one of many, who offer to help you find employment in a particular field for $75. If you send them the money, they send you a list of companies in that line of work, which you can get online for free. Period. They have technically aided your search as promised so they have met their bare legal obligation, but it is still a rip-off.

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Searching for a job is time consuming, and it is a job in itself, but there are ways to look at it that can increase your odds, lower your anxiety level, and help you keep a cool perspective. Thinking outside the box is not just a commonly used phrase; it can aid you in securing employment.

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