How to look for a job

By Paul Blocklyn

 

If you’re a senior at Kean, you know the time has come for you to start looking for a job. Your job hunts will carry you from the relative safety and security of college life to the rough-and tumble uncertainty of the world of work.

Looking for a job is a full-time job in itself.  At first glance the prospect of job hunting may seem overwhelming, but you should try to think of it as a process ,not an event.  Think of the words of the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Start early.  Job hunting may seem like a monumental task, and human nature being what it is, most people tend to put it off.  But you can’t put off the inevitable.  The early bird catches the worm.  The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reach your destination.

Know yourself.  Socrates’ words of wisdom hold true for your job search.  Ask yourself this question:  What do I want out of life?  Maybe you already know the answer; if you don’t, ask yourself some more questions.  What courses have you liked?  Do you want to make a lot of money, or do you want to help others?  Do you like taking risks, or do you prefer feeling safe and secure?  Do you like working with others, or do you work better alone?  Answers to these questions will help determine the kind of job you’d be good at.  Taking a personality test such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator may also be helpful.

Network.  You’ve heard it before:  It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. To a certain extent, that’s true.  You’ve got to meet and get to know the people who can help you get the job you want.

The Internet has transformed the way we work with others, and job-hunting is no exception.  In the past, you met people at conferences and other face-to-face networking events; now you can meet them online.

LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is the premium professional online networking site, with more than 175 million users in some 200 countries.  You need to be one of these people.

LinkedIn is similar to an online resume.  You create a profile for yourself that tells people who you are in terms of your education and experience.  You can even include a photograph of yourself.

Here’s how LinkedIn works:  Once you’ve set up your profile, you invite people you know to “connect” with you, that is, to join your list of contacts.  Once these people accept your invitation, you usually have access to their contacts as well.  Thus your list of contacts grows exponentially.

You can join social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace as well as LinkedIn, but LinkedIn should be your first priority.

Career-hunting sites.  Sites such as Monster.com and CareerBuilders.com can be helpful to you in your job search.  So can company Web sites, which often list current job openings in their organizations.

Don’t overlook newspaper ads.  Newspapers are often dismissed as old media, but every job I’ve ever gotten has been a job that I saw advertised in a newspaper.

One caveat about online networking: it lets you greatly expand your opportunities for job hunting, but there is no substitute for face-to-face contact.  You should still try to use job fairs, conferences, and other real-world venues to make as many contacts as possible.

Employment agencies.  They can save you time and effort by helping you with your job search.  Employment agencies have a large database of contacts.  Just remember that these agencies charge a fee, and make sure that the agency you choose is established and reputable.  Unfortunately, some employment agencies are fly-by-night enterprises that will take your money and run.

Internships.  You should make every effort to land an internship, which you can often get through a professor or through the Career Development Center.  Internships are invaluable opportunities to gain experience and skills in your chosen field and to make important real-world contacts.  Internships can also lead to full-time positions after you graduate.  This is also true of part-time, temporary, or volunteer work in your field.  Remember, any experience is good experience.

Contacts.  You can use family, friends, former bosses, and especially former teachers to help you get a job.  Here’s a well-kept secret: Believe it or not, your professors are your friends!  They often have contacts in business and the professions, and if they like your work they can give you a letter of recommendation.

The Career Development and Advancement Center at Kean can help you at every step of your job search.  The Center offers job fairs,  a Career Planning Guide, and a Job Skills Workshop with hints, information, and job search strategies to help students in their job hunt.

The Career Development and Advancement Center is located in Room 123 of the Maxine and Jack Lane Center for Academic Success.  Further information can be obtained by calling (908) 737-0320.

Paul Blocklyn teaches Business and Professional Writing at Kean University.  He can be reached at pblockly@kean.edu.


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