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Finding, and Getting, Your Dream Job
Working for a company you love and doing a job you truly enjoy is important. Everyone feels better and performs better when they enjoy what they do. Whether you are currently employed, re-entering the job force or looking for your first job, there is a lot you can do to ensure that you find a job that's a great fit. Developing specific career goals, tapping your social networks and preparing for your interviews can help you achieve career success.
Discovering the Job You Want
Before you can get your dream job, you need to know what it is. Some people seem to know the career they want to pursue from the time they are very young. Most people, however, find a career path through trial and error. If you are looking for your first job or are dissatisfied with your current one, you may want to seek career counseling. Experienced career counselors can help you identify your talents and strengths and guide you in developing robust job strategies. If you are a student, your school may offer career counseling on campus. Some career counselors work from private practices, and social service agencies sometimes have vocational counselors on staff.
If you are looking for your first job and haven't yet decided on what you'd like to do, you might want to try for an entry-level position in an industry that holds some interest for you. For example, if you think you might like to work in health care, but aren't ready to pursue a specific career, such as nursing or physical therapy, you might try to get a job as an administrator or assistant in a hospital, clinic or rehab center. By working alongside professionals, you'll be able to gauge whether you have an aptitude for the job.
Once you know the kind of job you are looking for, you can do what's necessary to get it. In some cases, you'll just need to prepare your resume to start seeking a new position. In others, you'll need to prepare yourself through education, an apprenticeship, certification or licensing before you can begin actively searching for a job.
As a working parent, scheduling may be an issue for you. While reviewing potential careers, do what you can to learn about scheduling flexibility. Some jobs lend themselves to flexible scheduling while others require more rigid working hours. Knowing what to expect before you begin to train for a career can make it easier for you to find a suitable job once you're ready for your search.
Beginning Your Job Search
Once you've covered the basics and have the necessary education, training and credentials needed to find your job, you can start searching for a position. Here are some things you need to do to get started:
- Create or update your resume: Most job sites, employers and recruiters will ask for a copy of your resume. If you don't have one, write one, or, better yet, hire a professional resume writer to prepare one for you.
- Create or update your online profiles: Create or update your profiles on LinkedIn and other job-related sites, such as Indeed. Do the same for your social media profiles: Remember, many hiring managers do look over social profiles and make hiring decisions based on what they find there.
- Start networking: Let friends, family members and former colleagues know that you are looking for a job.
- Connect with a recruiter: Recruiters, also known as headhunters, act as matchmakers between job-seekers and companies looking for employees.
- Respond to job ads: Checking out job ads online is a no-brainer, but don't forget to look in local newspapers too.
- Take a walk: Many businesses still put help-wanted signs in their windows. Take a walk in one of your local business districts and look around for these signs. If you spot a sign that interests you, stop in and ask about the position. You may be able to score an interview right on the spot, and both you and the person you talk to can get an idea of whether you'd be a good fit.
As you contact members of your social network, ask if you can give them a copy of your resume. Here's why: Many successful hires are the result of personal referrals. If your friends and family members are able to provide the person they are talking to with your resume on the spot, there's a greater chance that the conversation will be remembered and that you'll get a call for an interview.
Beginning the Interview Process
If your initial job-search steps are successful, you'll probably start hearing from hiring managers. These days, the initial contact may come via email or social media messaging, but some will actually call you directly. From there, she may ask some preliminary questions and then ask if she can set up a phone or in-person interview.
Interestingly, the rules for a successful phone or in-person interview are very similar, although there are a few differences. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Present yourself professionally: Even if you expect to dress casually on the job, make sure you look sharp for your interview. Opt for a skirt, professional dress or non-denim slacks. Avoid distracting jewelry and use discretion with your hair and makeup. You want to dress nicely even for a telephone interview: Even if the hiring manager can't see you, knowing that you look great will positively affect your demeanor on the phone call.
- Be on time: Plan to arrive 15 minutes before the start of an in-person interview. If you are concerned about traffic or public transit, add extra time to your commute. If you aren't familiar with the building where you'll be interviewing, keep in mind that parking validation, elevators and security screening can cause delays.
- Prevent distractions: Before a phone interview, arrange for child care so that you can give your full attention to the interviewer. Make sure your phone is turned on and that your signal is strong. Keep a glass of water nearby so that you can stay comfortable during the conversation. For a phone interview, have a copy of your resume in front of you so that you can refer to it as needed. Bring multiple copies of your resume to in-person interviews: You may be interviewed by a panel.
After your interview, follow up with a thank you note. Express your gratitude for the interviewer's time and indicate that you are looking forward to hearing from him soon. This is also an excellent time to provide any additional information that the interviewer asked for during your time together.
From there, it's primarily up to the employer to take the next step in either letting you know that you are still in consideration for a job or that they are going to look elsewhere. During this waiting period, don't let up on your job search, even if you really want the job that you've been interviewing for. There are a lot of factors that go into making a hiring decision, and you don't want to bypass good opportunities because you are waiting for one company to get back in touch.
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Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.