March 21, 2011

Career Builder: Job Oppertunity

At some point, like it or not, we have to venture into the work force. It's unavoidable. A select few fall into their professional roles. A summer job, internship or family business gently ushers them into the work world and allows them to sidestep the job search process. For the rest of us, the day comes when we try to make our résumés look impressive and then take our nicest clothes to the cleaners.

Job hunting is always intimidating. Even the most seasoned professional feels a tinge of anxiety during interviews or in the days when the managers are deciding whom to hire. For first-time job seekers, or those who haven't searched in a long time, the entire process can feel overwhelming.

Although no amount of preparation will take away those butterflies, these five tips can improve your chances of landing the perfect job.

1. Think creatively when writing your resume

Putting together your résumé is the first step in the job search, and often it is the most difficult, especially for first-time job seekers. If you're fresh out of school or are returning to the work force after an extended leave, you might think, "I have no experience to list." Although your work history might be limited or nonexistent, you need to think beyond job titles.

Look at your volunteer experience, clubs, association, guilds and any other activities you were involved in at school and in your personal time. Tutoring a child, organizing a fundraiser, and serving as a committee's bookkeeper all require communication and leadership skills that employers value.

2. Network and ask questions

You're not the first person to look for a job, so don't pretend like you're alone in this hunt. Your friends and family remember what it was like and they'll happily help where they can.

Look around you and you'll realize how many different connections you have to dozens of industries. Let people know that you're looking for a job and what you want to do, and they can let you know whether they hear of an opportunity. Plus, a personal reference goes a long way when a hiring manager is looking at a stack of otherwise similar applications.

3. Find a mentor or buddy

Because job hunting can be filled with many questions and a lot of uncertainty, having someone to rely on is always a good idea. Find a friend or family member who is willing to answer your questions. They are also good resources for looking over your résumé and practicing interview questions. Ultimately a job search comes down to you and the employer, but having someone to share it with you along the way is helpful.

4. Be focused

Novice job seekers, especially in today's economy, are eager to find any job. That often means blasting the same résumé to every company and hoping to land an interview with anybody. Employers don't want to hire someone looking for a job; they want somebody who's perfect for their job.

Decide what you want out of your job search. What kind of job? In what industry? How are you qualified? When you answer those questions, you can begin to tailor your cover letter and résumé for each position.

5. Have confidence

When you're a new job seeker, you can feel as if every other applicant is more qualified than you and you have nothing to offer the company. Don't let self doubt damage your search. Remember that you have skills and talent to offer and that you have as much right to be considered for the job as anybody else. If you act as if you don't belong in that interview, the hiring manager will feel the same way. Don't be arrogant and act as if you're owed the job; just act as if you are worth the hiring manager's time.

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