Job Series #1: Back to Basics

When hitting the search circuit it's best to get yourself ready for the war. There are some basics that everyone needs to prepare for.
  1. Get your suit / interview-ware together. Check your shirts, belt, shoes, and suit. It is simple but if a interview happens tomorrow and you have a suit with a jacket that doesn't fit, brown shoes for a blue suit, a tie that doesn't match, and a wrinkled shirt, what the heck kind of impression are you really presenting? Get the basics covered. For kicks once a year, go to the nice part of Dillard's and get a few items like this and then you should always have something that fits. My GF's brother made me walk through there one day 4 months ago and convinced me to get a discounted Hugo Boss suit. If he wouldn't have done that then I wouldn't have had a perfect fitting suit for an interview I had last week. By the way it is the nicest and best suit I have ever owned.

  2. Brush up on your resume. I always tell my friends to update their resume every six months at the least (I probably do it every 3 months). It just keeps it fresh, but also think about how you want to have your resume laid out. Most people do the whole, this is where I worked and this is what I did resume but there are other styles like topical that can be even more effective dependent on your past. I will write more about this topic in the next series to cover resume writing more clearly.

  3. Contact your references and ask new people (privately) to become new ones. As you age through life, you will learn new skills, keep track of those that are impressed, those that become your friends, and those that you can count on. I have an odd background, and a wide swath of experiences but sometimes people just don't believe that I have seen and done all that I have seen and done. So I have a good friend that I can always count on for a recommendation, an old mentor that has never let me done, and now that plant manager that choked up when he was firing me, he is on my list. Through your life it is so important to know these types of people that you can count on for good recommendations, it can be a deal breaker in the negotiations, so don't use people that you cannot trust.

  4. Join and post your resume on the online job boards. I am amazed at the current work environment. I haven't seen as many postings with company positions as I have seen stuff posted by recruiters this time around. However, what I did notice that once I posted on on some of various job boards, they began talking to me. Granted, papers are still a decent place to look, but make sure to notice who they have partnered with. Mine has posted with Careerbuilder which is way better than Monster and Hotjobs in my area (KC, MO). But there are even better boards out there than that. In KC or Kansas you can use http://www.kansasworks.com/ and search everything, not just those big three, but the state boards, company boards that don't list openly, and all of the odd other boards that may be specific to your job speciality. I think it has to be do to the fact that Kansasworks is state run, and if you are applying for unemployment this is a way to show that the job search is occurring. Either way it is by far the best way to search around here. Again more on this when I talk about resumes.

  5. Evaluate your short comings. You want to leave your job, you got laid off, you got fired, something bad happened with your business group, frankly you have to get that behind you, but before you bury that hatchet evaluate yourself. There are things you suck at, things that you lack, or things you can do better. Put that to paper and work on improving that at your next job. I know that two jobs ago, I befriended the floor workers before I ever did the upper management. It cost me a lot there, I changed that at my last job. True I lost my job, but it wasn't because I didn't work well with the upper management, it was due to company consolidation and the plant manager and engineering manager have both said for me to use them as a reference, that was a distinct change. On my next job, I am going to work on pushing contractors harder, being a better estimator of project timing and pricing, and get better at AutoCAD.

  6. Treat finding a job as your job. Get up everyday like you were going to work: shower, get coffee, and for the next two to three hours prepare your resume, make some contacts, and search the boards. It will keep you fresh, then the rest of the day try to enjoy some of day to do something productive. Exercise, mow the lawn, that sort of thing.

  7. Interview everything. Good advice straight from my father. So what that the job is in Alaska milking penguins, act like that is what you have always wanted to do and interview your best for that job. Why, because when you really find a job that you actually want you will be well practiced and ready. Also, those who struggle with the interview process will need all the help that they can get to reach that comfort level talking about themselves around strangers.

  8. Know your spiel, practice your story. Work and work on your story. The more you talk it out the more comfortable you will be with it. If there are sketchy things about your past, be prepared to answer and explain away those problems.

  9. Never turn down a job not offered yet and never expect an offer that hasn't arrived. This is another of my dad's wisest advice. I try to never get my hopes up or down for a certain job. There have been times that I thought that I have nailed an interview only to never hear from the company again or likewise written a company off before I had completed the interview. Keep a cool head and keep searching until an offer is in front of you. No use worrying about the decision you don't have to make.

  10. Look for a better job! Chances are you have more experience now, that translates to being someone with something definite to offer. So when looking, look for something that is better it may just work out. Sure, if the economy is bad, or your field is competitive, it may be difficult and you may have to take a step down, but you won't move up unless you try.

Next up in the series: Modern Resume

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