by Kathryn Lee Bazan
Let’s demystify the process of job-hunting: it’s a very easy process and not at all like the ritual of virgin sacrifice it’s cracked up to be. Just kidding about the virgin sacrifice…
You are now a certified “Blue Sky Ranger” — consider yourself sprinkled with wishing dust so that you can conjure up your dream of the perfect job and then go find it.
Tailoring your job search has two major components: knowing what you like to do and knowing what you don’t like to do. “Hard work” is not the answer to the second part of that sentence. Knowing what you don’t like may encompass an entire type of business. A person who detests professional sports probably should not apply to the front office of New York Yankees baseball team. A person who is a member of the Sierra Club may feel out of place in a company with a blatant disregard for the environment and no desire to change. In these cases, a personal or philosophical difference may keep you from applying to certain types of businesses, saving you time, effort, and stamps on your resume mailings.
Now that we know what you don’t like, let’s make a list of what you do like. List everything that causes your soul to tingle in anticipation-previous work environments, hobbies, personal causes, and match them to representative industries. If you are a retired Camp Fire Girl (or overgrown Eagle Scout), research:
- those companies making equipment for campers and hikers,
- the Parks Service,
- recreational vehicles,
- ecotourism (companies arranging tours focusing on nature),
- hospitality sites in the U.S. Park System (e.g., Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon).
Walk into a camping equipment store and saunter up and down the aisles, legal pad in hand. Make a list of the companies making the equipment you know and use. These are exactly the companies you need to research and apply to.
If you like favor environmental causes, make a list of companies that are listed by environmentally conscious mutual funds. Check with local members of environmental groups to find out where they work, which companies they recommend and which ones they flee. If you like sports, apply to major and minor league teams, sports equipment manufacturers, sports agents, sports venues (e.g., Madison Square Garden, Qualcomm Park in San Diego), and sports promoters.
Now that you’ve made your list, you have a block of types of businesses for which you’d like to work. Let’s make a list of specific employers, which is part of the research of getting a job. According to employment counseling firm Bernard Haldane Associates, only 15 percent of all jobs openings are listed in the newspaper. Therefore, you’ll have to become the Sherlock Holmes of the job-hunting world to detect the best job for you.
There are numerous ways to build your list of companies to which you want to apply:
Look up the companies on your list on the Internet or at the library. Check out that company’s Website and what jobs that company lists there. Even if the company does not list an opening in your specialty, look at what is open. Call the manager in the department you want and introduce yourself. If you make a good case for what you can contribute, the company may even be willing to create a position for you since you went to the effort of seeking it out and researching the firm. Look the company up on Hoovers.com or other financial sites to find out how financially healthy they are.
Are there other methods? You bet! Here are a few:
- Call your local Chamber of Commerce and ask for complimentary tickets to the next Chamber mixer or breakfast meeting. These meetings can a suburb, the entire city, or countywide.
Take someone with you to the mixer who is familiar with the group and can introduce you to people. Or ask a Chamber ambassador or board member to take you under his or her wing and make introductions for you. Introduce yourself to people. Relax. Put a pleasant expression on your face and be approachable. Others may be just as worried as you are about making new contacts. Let your body language and expressions show that you are friendly, and others will be drawn to you.
You interact in global economy and society. Practice your etiquette because it is a business and a social tool. When an introduction is made, say your name, hold out your hand and look the other person in the eye while standing up straight. Practice this gesture. Gain the confidence you need to do it because you will use this skill your entire life.
If you create an interesting opening line about yourself, introducing yourself will be one step easier. If, for example, you have a safety degree from Cal State LA, your opening line might be, “Hi, I’m Terry Smith. I’m a trained guardian of people’s safety and protector of the birdies.” Even if you’re merely a data-entry clerk for the summer, your sound-byte about yourself can morph into “I electrify words and make them immortal.” Take along your resume or design a business card with your career highlights and contact information. At Kinko’s, cards cost about $25. Trade business cards with those at the mixer. Listen to chat groups. Network! Call those people you contacted and ask for an interview. (Many of these hints are from the Willimantic, CT, Chamber of Commerce Staff network, June, 1999/reprinted September 7, 1999.)
- Join Toastmasters. The organization will teach you how to speak in front of a group, thus allowing you to introduce yourself and your talents to a whole roomful of potential employers. You can hone your skills in front of a friendly audience, not an audience that meets in a corporate boardroom and has the clout to kill your pet project. Each speech you are assigned gets a bit longer. You are encouraged and critiqued (praised for what you did right and gently corrected on those minor, minuscule, not-really-worth-mentioning flubs).
- If you are interested in working in a specific geographical area, try this. Put a tape recorder on the car seat beside you and drive through an industrial park. Call off the names of the companies, address, anything you can see (“Davcom, the eCommerce Solution Provider”). (This process doesn’t work well if the buildings are 50 stories tall and have 500 tenants.) Once you are home with your list, transcribe the list, look ’em up and go for it.
For more about researching companies, See the Quintessential Careers Guide to Researching Companies.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Kathryn Lee Bazan has been in recruiting and placement for the last 20 years. She joined Snelling & Snelling in 1980 as the first technical placement specialist and set records for the largest rookie placement in the Newport Beach office. In 1981, she was recruited to Control Data Cybersearch to recruit computer hardware engineers. She wrote a college textbook, Job Hunting Made Easy for Environmental Health and Safety Professionals, based on papers presented at two international conferences. Kathy currently consults on Internet job hunting for professionals.