Are you the kind of person who has had to work hard for every job you’ve had in the past? Have you had the good fortune to perhaps on the other hand had jobs land in your lap; a friend of your dad’s, a connection of your mother’s or some other family member knew someone who hired you and all you had to do was agree to take the job?
Well having a job handed to you might have been seen as good fortune at one point but, if it led you to think that finding a job isn’t so tough, what might have been kindness on someone’s part actually did you a disservice. Looking for a job like anything else in life takes skill, tenacity, knowledge, determination and resilience.
A lot has changed in how to look for employment over just a few short years; the emergence of online applications as not just one way to apply for a job but in more situations the only way to apply for a job. Applicant Tracking Software is thinning out applicants long before human eyeballs ever look over individual resumes; a process many job seekers have no idea even exists.
However, there are some aspects of looking for work that are essentially the same; before you can convince an employer you’re right for the job, you have to know why yourself. You’re going to need to understand how your skills, experience and personality are the right combination the employer requires, and you can’t rely on just your good looks and ability to wing it in interviews anymore. If you plan on winging it in today’s interviews, be prepared to be exposed in the interview as having put little effort into your preparation and be sent packing. Too bad too, because if you sincerely want to work for a particular company, you may never be offered that second chance to impress.
Looking for work is work. I have to admit that as an Employment Counsellor I am surprised by the number of people out there who still think making a generic resume and photocopying it 20 or 30 times and doing a mass handout is how to find work. Does this work anymore? Sure, in entry-level jobs with an employer who may be in a desperate situation and in you come and you’ll do for the short-term until they can find the right candidate. You might even stay right up until a few days before your probation is up only to be let go and replaced by someone who is better qualified when the employer goes through their proper hiring practices.
The thing is most people – and I mean a large number of people – don’t practice their job searching skills when they aren’t looking for work. Then when they start looking for work, they trust to their own abilities based on their past experiences, make a minor change or two on their resume and figure that’s it. Those same people are then frustrated that looking for a job takes longer than they remembered and eventually when they do seek out help, they are surprised how much has changed from the way they recall looking for work in the past.
All things evolve and job searching is no different. Just yesterday I was looking at a job with someone who was interested in working for a large retail chain. After reading the job posting, we put together a resume specifically targeting all the key requirements the employer was looking for. Sounds like all we need to do now is get it in the hands of the employer right? Send it off electronically by clicking on that ‘apply’ button on their webpage right? Wrong!
No, in addition to crafting this resume, there was then a 9 step process to complete. There were questions to answer which would determine personal suitability and knowledge of the job. They wanted references right then and there plus what amounted to breaking down the contents of the resume and asked for the reasons behind moving from one job to another in the applicants past. There was a lot of other information they requested as well, and it looked like about a solid hours worth of work to even get through the application process.
So now in addition to being able to work in retail, any applicant applying for this company needs computer skills , access to the internet and a lot of patience. Get yourself all glammed up and walk in the door expecting your looks and winning smile to get you the job and you won’t even make it to the Hiring Manager’s office. You’ll be sent packing with your resume still in your possession because they won’t even take it anymore in person. “First step is apply online.”
Frankly, entry-level jobs are generally easier to obtain than middle or upper level positions. That much hasn’t changed over time. However, what has changed is the process of applying for entry-level jobs; the process is mirroring the same process those higher level jobs require. If you don’t move with the times you will be left behind; unemployed and out of work until you realize that finding work is a job in and of itself.
No computer skills? Take a basic computer class. Out of date resume? Update it now, especially if you are working. Hope you’re ready to invest in finding a job; it pays off only after you put in the effort.