All kinds of people are looking for jobs. Although the tips given in this guide are applicable to anyone searching for work, the New Era has emphasized tips important for young people. You may find, however, that you’ll want to hang on to this guide for future reference throughout your career.
We also wish to thank the Atlanta Journal and Constitution for allowing us to quote extensively from their series on “Finding a Job.” All passages in quotation marks are taken from that series. This guide, however, is designed to meet the particular needs of our Latter-day Saint audience.
“Half your waking hours will be spent on the job. Your financial and personal satisfaction depends on finding and selecting the best job for you. Very few people have obtained satisfying jobs by sitting still and waiting for the job to find them. You are the active element in the job search. During the search, what you do and how you do it will determine to a large extent whether you find the right job.”
Looking for a job can become depressing, especially if it takes several weeks or months. Successful job seekers therefore solicit the aid of someone to meet with each week and discuss who was contacted, who was interviewed with, the results of the interview, any follow-up activity, and what the plans are for the coming week. In the Church, family members, home or visiting teachers, quorum leaders, or the ward employment specialist could serve in this capacity.
Job seekers should never neglect the greatest aids—fasting and prayer. This does not mean to fast and pray and then wait for the answer, but to fast and pray for guidance as you determine what work you’d like to do and how to get it and as you search for opportunities, identify potential employers, practice for interviews, and go to interviews. Make decisions; then take them to the Lord for ratification.
“Many employers begin an interview by saying: ‘Tell me about yourself.’ If you’re not prepared for that one, it can really throw you. What are interviewers really asking? First, they want to know how you’ll handle the question, to see how fast you can think. Second, they want to know what makes you the person they’ve been looking for. Everyone has assets that would be valuable to an employer, but the employer won’t find out about them unless you can communicate them to him.
“How well do you know yourself and your abilities? Too many people discover, after they have started a new job, that they don’t really like it. They may like the pay, the location, and the people they’re working with, but they don’t like the job itself. Most of them will eventually quit, find a different job, and hope they will like it. Some people go through this process many times.
“If these people had chosen the right kind of work the first time, they could have avoided the extra job searches and adjustments. In the same amount of time, they might also have had promotions and raises. Why didn’t they make the right choice the first (or second or third) time? They didn’t know themselves. They hadn’t analyzed their skills and preferences, so they didn’t know what they should be looking for in a job.”
However, some experts feel that trying different jobs helps you learn where your true talent lies. See “Seven Myths about Careers,” page 12, and “What You’re Good At,” page 32.
Several mental exercises can help you analyze and understand yourself. Then we’ll show you how to use what you’ve found.
One exercise is very valuable and will make the other easier. It is simply to do as President Kimball says: write your personal history. Tell the whole story of your life. Include places you have lived, jobs you have had, Church callings, clubs or volunteer work, recreation, situations and activities you liked, disliked, or were proud of—anything you can think of.
Read over the personal history you wrote. “Now make three lists: ‘Things I Was/Am Good at Doing’; ‘Things I Was/Am Not Good at Doing’; and ‘Things I Was/Am Not Very Good at Doing but Would Like to Do Better.’ As you read back over your life, put each activity you were ever involved in on one of those lists. Include all kinds of activities—sports, games, recreation, household tasks, subjects in school, previous jobs, summer jobs, part-time jobs, church work, club and volunteer activities.
“When you’ve finished, you will have analyzed everything you’ve ever done according to whether you did it well or poorly, and you will have figured out whether there are some things you want to improve on.
“Now go through the lists again. This time mark each activity with an L if you liked doing it, or a D if you disliked doing it. You will be able to identify some activities right away because you obviously love or hate them. Others will take more thought. (Did you really hate English or just your English teacher? Did you really like tennis, or did you play because your best friend did?) One easy way to find out whether you enjoyed something is to ask yourself, ‘Would I like to do it again?’
“In many cases, you will find that you liked doing the things you did well and disliked doing the things you did poorly. But you may also find some surprises. You may be quick, neat, and efficient at washing dishes because you hate it so much you want to get it over with. You may sing like a hound dog but get a lot of pleasure from it.”
“Look at the list of things you do well that you also enjoy. Are there any sports listed? If not, that tells you that you are not a very physically active person and that a physically active job (like nursing, teaching small children, food-service work, outside sales, and most trades) might exhaust you.
“If there were sports that you liked and did well, what were they? Team sports could indicate that you prefer to work in a group and share responsibility. Technicians and many office workers operate in this atmosphere. A preference for individual sports that are played with other people, such as tennis, golf, or handball, could indicate that you are self-sufficient and not put off by responsibility or competitive challenge. Medicine, law, most sales and supervisory or managerial positions require those attributes. If you prefer truly one-person sports, such as swimming, skating, skiing, riding, or gymnastics, it may be that you prefer to work alone and to set your own goals or challenges. You might like having a certain amount of work to do, doing it by yourself, and having little responsibility to or for other people. People in the fine or applied arts often work this way, as do accountants, actuaries, research librarians, and many clerks.”
All of the activities can be evaluated this way. If you want help, contact your ward employment specialist.
“As you analyze your skills and preferences, you will come closer and closer to a job definition. You will know yourself well enough to decide a great variety of things related to jobs. You can use this checklist to clarify job objectives:
—“Do you prefer working indoors or outdoors?
—“Do you prefer working with your whole body (construction, dance, athletics) or just with your hands (making, assembling, or maintaining products), or just with your mind (sales, office work, teaching)?
—“Do you prefer working in one room all day or going to a variety of places every day?
—“Do you prefer having your own desk, office, or work area or working in several areas during the day?
—“Do you prefer a quiet, peaceful working atmosphere or an active, bustling one?
—“Do you prefer dealing with many different people or with a small group of familiar people?
—“Does working under pressure bother you or stimulate you?
—“Do you prefer taking on responsibilities, or would you rather avoid them?
—“Do you prefer the security of a set salary or the challenge of being paid according to how much work you produce? Or do you prefer a combination of both?”
From Life Skills to Job Skills
This checklist will help you make an inventory of job-related skills:
—“Are you good at fixing things or putting things together?
—“Are you physically strong and well coordinated?
—“Is your eyesight good? Your hearing?
—“Can you read even hard material easily?
—“Do you write well (consider handwriting and style as well as creative writing)?
—“Do you speak clearly and well?
—“Are you good at grammar and spelling?
—“Are you good at math?
—“Are you good at jigsaw puzzles? (This may sound silly, but it indicates if you have spatial-relation skills, needed for such jobs as drafting, electronics assembly, or printing.)
—“Are you good at science?
—“Are you good at convincing others you’re right?
—“Are you good at following directions?
—“Are you neat and careful in whatever you do?
—“Are you good at leading others (telling them what to do without being bossy)?
—“Are you good at listening to others’ problems?
—“Are you good at explaining how to do something to others so that they really understand?
—“Are you a good troubleshooter? Can you find out what’s wrong with a machine, process, or organization and fix it?
—“Do you have any specialized skills (welding, plumbing, typing, shorthand, operation of special office or industrial equipment)?
—“Do you speak, write, or read any foreign languages?
“No one will have all these skills, and every individual will have his or her own preferences. Once you’ve identified yours, you have eliminated a great many jobs that you don’t want or aren’t qualified for. Then you can take a closer look at the ones you might want.”
The U.S. Department of Labor has published two books which can be a great help to you. (If you live outside the United States, see what’s available through your own governmental agencies.) Dictionary of Occupational Titles lists every possible job, along with a description of necessary qualifications and the kinds of tasks required in that job. Jobs discussed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook are classified by field. The book also looks at salary ranges, current opportunities, and prospects for growth in the field. Copies of both books can be found in most libraries or Church employment centers.
Other Defining Factors
“Window shopping is fine when you’re looking for clothes or furniture, but window shopping for a job is a waste of everybody’s time. You should by now have one or more ‘job titles’ you’re interested in. Before you apply for every opening that fits your job title or take the first job offered that comes close to your interests, there are still some important questions you need to answer.
“First, do a little more soul-searching. Think about where you want to work. Consider transportation. Will public transportation suffice, or will you need a car? How far are you willing to commute? Do family responsibilities always require you to be home by a certain time?
“Summer employment, as well as career opportunities, might involve accepting work away from home. Are you willing to go anywhere? Do you have a preference for small towns or big cities? How much on-the-job traveling are you willing to do?
“What about overtime? Do you want it or would you rather avoid it? What is the lowest, rock-bottom salary you can accept? Is it a realistic salary for the job you’ve identified? How long can you afford to stay at the bottom before you move up?”
Latter-day Saints should also examine how the position relates to those principles they accept as members of the Church. How will the job affect your ability to be with your family and to accept Church callings? Will it interfere with home evenings? Are there conflicts with the principles and teachings of the gospel? Will you be required to work on Sunday?
“If you’re currently employed, it’s foolish to give up your present job until you find a new one. It may take you longer than you think to land the right job. If you quit and then start looking, you may put yourself under unnecessary financial and emotional stress. Also, prospective employers are more likely to see you as a desirable employee if you’re already employed.
“If you don’t have a job, put a time limit on your job search. That limit is determined mainly by the amount of savings you have to live on. Always give yourself a financial edge. If you haven’t found the right job when your time limit is up, you may want to take a part-time or temporary position while you continue to look.” Even if you can depend on your parents to take care of you, even if you have enough money saved for college tuition next year, give yourself a time limit. “The longer you’ve been unemployed, the less desirable you are to an employer.”
If you’re after summer work, remember to start looking for it long before summer arrives. Most businesses have filled their needs for summer employees long before school lets out. The same is true for holiday help and other seasonal work, including harvesting.
“Now that you know yourself better and are aware of your talents and successes, you must communicate these to a prospective employer. Almost no one is hired ‘sight unseen.’ But in order to get an interview you must present yourself in some way. This is often done by sending a letter and a resume. Even if you get an interview appointment over the phone, you’ll be expected to bring a resume to the interview. Your resume is frequently the first contact you make with the person you’re trying to work for, and in the job search, first impressions are often your only chance.
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking that resumes are necessary only for executive jobs. When applying for any job, you can create a professional, efficient, businesslike impression by having and submitting a resume.” Young people especially can get an edge by using a resume, since so few of their peers use one.
“What is a resume? It’s a short history of your life. Unlike the complete autobiography, though, it only contains events that are important to the employer.
“Your resume will include certain basic information: your name, address, phone number, educational history, and employment history. The resume serves two purposes. It introduces you to an employer you haven’t met and reminds him of who you are after he’s interviewed all the applicants. Think of it as an advertisement. When you look through a paper or a magazine, how impressed are you with ads that have a lot of print or with ads that have general statements like ‘new,’ ‘improved,’ and ‘better than the leading brand’? Such ads get passed over. So do resumes which either say too much or repeat what everyone else is saying. Your task is to construct a resume that stands out from most of the others—one that the employer will read with interest and remember.”
Putting Your Resume Together
“The first step in constructing your resume is to get your facts together. Write a skeleton resume which accounts for all the time since you graduated from high school. If you took a year off to travel, include that. If you took 20 years off to raise a family, include that. Look up the exact name and address of every company you worked for. Don’t leave any gaps larger than two to three months. All of this information will not go into your final resume, but you need it to get your dates straight.
“People who have had problems and are trying to overcome them should be proud of that fact rather than ashamed of it, because they are demonstrating that they have strength of character. But save such stories for the interview, and leave them out of the resume.
“Go through your autobiography again and pick out your accomplishments—the things that made you pleased with yourself. Write a short paragraph about each one on a separate index card.
“You may accumulate many of these cards. Don’t use more than three or four (if they’re short) in a resume. Use the ones that show skills or qualities most applicable to the job you’re applying for. They should be in order of importance, not necessarily chronological order. Save the others for other jobs, or for verbal use during an interview.
“Tempting though it may be to stretch the truth, Don’t do it!” Lies and exaggerations have no place in your character or in the job search. “If you get a job as a result of lying, you may not be able to handle it or you may get fired when they find out later that you lied. Honesty will show in a resume, and honesty is something else that prospective employers are looking for.
“Now that all of your facts are in front of you, put them together into an all-purpose resume. If your job choices are roughly in the same field, one all-purpose resume will do. If your choices are quite different, you will need a separate resume for each, with the main differences being the objective and your choice of anecdotes. The resume should never be longer than two pages, and one is better.
“Keep the language in your resume simple, straightforward, and appropriate. Use vocabulary the reader would use, avoiding jargon or buzzwords. This doesn’t mean that the language should not be expressive, but don’t let the words hide the message. Also, use action verbs rather than passive verbs (‘developed,’ not ‘was involved in the development of’).
“Any resume for any job should be typed. Never submit a hand-written resume. Your resume should be spotlessly clean, with no erasures or typing corrections. The spelling and grammar have to be absolutely perfect. Otherwise you are telling the employer that you’re careless, and nobody wants careless employees. People who really want jobs must take the extra time and effort to present a decent resume. You will probably want many copies of your resume and may consider having it printed. Tell the printer to use a good-quality paper. If you’re mailing the resume, put it in a letter-sized manila envelope, and then it will look fresh and unfolded when the employer sees it. If you’re mailing a great many of them, though, that could get very expensive, and there’s nothing actually wrong with folding it and putting it in a business-size envelope.”
Special Resume Problems
“If you have just graduated from high school or college and are looking for your first full-time job, you are naturally going to have a rather sparse resume. Don’t panic. In the first place, you won’t be applying for any jobs which require five years’ experience—you’ll be applying for ‘trainee’ or ‘get in on the ground floor’ or ‘career opportunity’ jobs. Those employers know that they can’t get experienced people for the lower-paying beginner jobs. They don’t expect lengthy resumes.
“If you have had any part-time jobs, include those under ‘Work Experience.’ Showing the employer that you can report on time regularly to an office or a business is important.” Occasional employment, such as babysitting, mowing lawns, or walking dogs may not carry a lot of weight unless you organized and directed a service involving several other people. But if that’s the only experience you’ve had, make the most of it. “The employer assumes that you can work—what he wants to know is whether you will.”
Also include offices held in church, social, and community organizations. They tell the employer that you work well with other people and that you can take on and carry out responsibilities, even if you weren’t paid.
Try to present any experience you’ve had in a way that will appeal to your prospective employer. Doesn’t through business, referral, and direct contact presented personal and family improvement concepts describe missionary work as well as missionary—taught the gospel?
“If you sell widgets and want to go into advertising, don’t talk about the widgets. Talk about developing client contacts and new accounts or working with clients to solve problems together. And of course, if you’ve done anything at all in your old career that meshes with your new one, use it in an anecdote.”
The Skills/Achievement Resume
Applicants with little or no work experience often have difficulty composing an effective resume. The outstanding feature of a skills/achievement resume is that it is not limited to education and work experiences but encompasses all aspects of an individual’s life.
Advantages of the skills/achievement resume:
—Can spotlight life’s major experiences.
—Is highly individualized.
—Can eliminate necessity for dates and employment record.
Disadvantages of the skills/achievement resume:
—Is difficult to write. Identifying skills/achievements can be difficult and may require assistance.
—No standard format.
—Employers are not always familiar with this format.
REBECCA HEINTZMUND Employment Objective: Secretary
1706 Honeycut Road
Mindenmines, Missouri 64769
— Graduate Mindenmines High School, Mindenmines, Missouri, June 1984.
Grade point average 3.9. Graduated with honors.
— Kiwanis scholarship.
SKILLS DEVELOPED IN SECRETARIAL CLASSES:
Typing: 80 wpm
Business letter layout
Shorthand: 100 wpm
Word Processing: Wordstar
SPECIAL BUSINESS-RELATED COURSES:
Accounting I, II
Type I, II, III
Shorthand I, II
SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
— Chairman: “Special Happenings.” Planned, coordinated, and produced youth conference for 425 participants. Budget: $750. Invited speakers. Supervised publicity.
— Co-produced dance for 300 youth. Budget: $250.
— President of Laurel class (church youth group). Responsible, with adult advisor, for providing instruction, friendship, and social activities for 12 girls.
— President, Mindenmines chapter of Future Business Leaders of America.
— Worked at my father’s office filing, typing, and filling in for the receptionist.
— Worked in school office answering phones, typing bulletins, and running errands.
— Using principles taught in bookkeeping class, have maintained personal double-entry budget for three years.
The Chronological Resume
This resume lists employment from most recent to earliest. The example shown here is strong because it emphatically states an occupational goal and shows related academic training, leadership experience and previous sales experience. Attention is called to achievements in sales. The applicant indicates a strong interest in science and sales and appears to be self-directed.
Advantages of the chronological resume:
—Most widely used.
—Interviewers are most familiar with it.
—Easiest to prepare because format is structured.
—Can highlight a steady employment history.
Disadvantages of the chronological resume:
—Reveals employment gaps.
—Can place emphasis on unrelated or undesirable previous jobs.
—Must be carefully constructed to spotlight skills and accomplishments.
LEONARD A. ROBERTS
1891 Loveley Ave. #291
Northridge, Ca. 91330
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
Bachelor of Science Degree, June 1984
Extracurricular Activities: Campus Key Club (Service Organization)
1983 to present
Hitchcock’s Department Stores, Northridge, California.
Sales increases of up to 50% per month since beginning of employment.
1981 to 1983
Recreation International, Van Nuys, California.
Established inventory control system which decreased assembly delays, lessened inventory shortages, lowered handling costs, decreased losses due to theft, and reduced interest penalties.
1979 to 1981
Fukuoka Japan Mission, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
1978 to 1979
Casa de San Pablo Restaurant, Oxnard, California.
Active member, California Planning and Conservation League.
Will be furnished upon request.
The Functional Resume
Those who have acquired a variety of skills and achievements through a number of experiences may want to consider this format, which emphasizes skills rather than history. It allows the applicant to highlight areas which relate to the job being sought. Information is ranked from most important to least important down the page.
Advantages of the functional resume:
—Highlights selected areas which relate most to the job.
—Can de-emphasize other areas or a spotty employment record.
—Well organized and concise.
Disadvantages of the functional resume:
—Can be difficult to write, requires extensive background work or knowledge of job and employer.
—Needs strong related work experience and skills.
—Does not connect skills and achievements to specific work situations.
255 Maple Tree Lane
Yonkers, New York 10034
Phone: (914) 236-8951
Entry-level Management Trainee Position
August 1984—Bachelor of Science, Business Administration, Columbia University, New York City, New York
Management—As service manager for a large supermarket, was responsible for supervision of 20 employees in 5 departments. Promoted product sales through effective ordering, receiving, and displaying of merchandise. As committee director and trainer for volunteer organization, initiated programs and supervised their implementation.
Problem-solving skills—Revised communication system to expedite handling of merchandise from warehouse to sales area. Through crisis intervention training, developed ability to analyze complex situations and suggest appropriate actions.
Numerical skills—Employment required speed and accuracy with figures and ability to work efficiently with money. Have experience in working within a university budget. Have prepared own tax forms and personal budget for past four years.
Public relations—Above average verbal ability to communicate with wide range of clients and win their confidence and cooperation. Responsible for directing and coordinating publicity activities. Originated, developed, and distributed newspaper and radio releases and publicity brochures.
Have been employed in part-time or full-time positions since freshman year of high school and have earned 100% of school and personal expenses.
September 1977 to present:
Pascarelli’s Markets, Inc. New Rochelle, New York
Since February 1979, have been actively involved with the Bronx Helpline, a volunteer-run, crisis intervention telephone service. Serving as Advertising Director and Trainer for new volunteers.
In my local unit of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am in charge of organizing volunteer help for a welfare cannery.
Can communicate in American Sign Language (Ameslan).
Piano, racquetball, tennis, gourmet cooking.
The Combination Resume
This writer has individualized the resume, choosing elements from the functional, chronological, and skills/achievement formats. The overall appearance displays the applicant’s artistic and graphic abilities, while the content clearly defines management skills and abilities. Note that there is no occupational goal statement. This information was placed, instead, in a cover letter. Also note the use of action verbs and the listing of knowledge of operation of various machines.
Advantages of the combination resume:
—Can be individualized.
—Spotlights specific experience, achievements, and skills.
—Is clear, concise, and well organized.
Disadvantages of the combination resume:
—No standard format.
—Needs strong related work experience and skills.
—Some interviewers are unfamiliar with this format.
LORRAINE A. BATES Phone (801) 752-9903
123 West 400 North #5
Logan, Utah 84321
Utah State University, Logan, Utah—Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts, June 1980
Ogden Printing and Graphics, Ogden, Utah
1980 to present
Began with company as a trainee. Learned every aspect of the business. Within a year was coordinating the responsibilities of managing the printing shop and directing the art department. Worked under only general supervision from proprietor. Managed and directed up to six people.
* Initiated company policies of organized and systematized production procedures for the consistent achievement of high quality standards.
* Changed company direction toward outside sales with emphasis on large-volume accounts.
* Implemented a system of forms to reduce client and company error.
* Instituted expediting procedures to meet job due dates.
* Developed and maintained extensive filing system of important job materials and data.
* Supervised other employees to ensure that all jobs were properly completed to each client’s specifications.
* Held regular conferences with clients on job progress.
* Scheduled all jobs.
* Performed all duties as purchasing agent.
* Created and produced creative graphic design at work.
* Prepared layouts and pasteup on booklets, pamphlets, posters, flyers, brochures, catalog sheets, envelopes, letterheads, business cards, forms, etc.
* Organized layout and pasteup of monthly publications.
* Supervised others contributing work.
* Estimated job costs for clients.
* Consulted with clients to formulate job concepts, to clarify and discuss requests.
* Trained new employees.
EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE IN OPERATION OF:
Cache Valley School District—Children’s Center Teacher
Will be furnished on request from Office of Career Placement, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84321.
“Looking for a job is a lot harder and more discouraging than actually working. You will probably be disappointed time and time again. If the search goes on too long, you may wind up feeling that you’re absolutely worthless and that you’ll never get a job. The way to fight it is to sleep well, eat well, dress well, keep your chin up, and work even harder at finding a job.
“Be sure to keep a record of your search. A regular school notebook is fine for the purpose. Every time you write a letter, answer an ad, send a resume, get a reply, apply in person, get a lead from an acquaintance, or go on an interview, make a note of it in your book and date it.
“If it’s an ad, paste it in. If it’s an interview, include the name of the person(s) you spoke with, the address and phone number of the company, what was discussed, and what your impressions were.
“It may seem silly when you begin your search, but six weeks and a hundred applications later, you may forget that you’ve already applied to the XYZ company or that you’ve already called Mr. Harris at 123-4567. Or Universal Framjus may call and offer you an interview a month after you’ve answered their ad, and you won’t remember what the job was.
“It is vital to keep this record right from the start. If you don’t, you may wind up embarrassing yourself and losing a good opportunity.”
“There are many avenues in the job search, and the wise seeker uses all of them—or at least all that are useful for the kind of work that he or she wants.”
“Personal contacts are a rich source of jobs. That doesn’t mean that Uncle Harry has to give you a job or that you have to take it. It means that the people who know the most about the working world are the people who work.
“How many working people do you know? You don’t have to know them well enough to ask them for a job, because you won’t be doing that. Asking someone you know for a job puts you both on the spot. He or she may not need anyone or may not need someone like you.
“Instead of asking them for a job, ask for advice on looking for a job. Most of the time, they’ll feel so honored that they’ll go a step further and give concrete help, like recommending you to someone they know who does have an opening. It’s even possible that they’ll have one themselves.
“Make a list of everyone you know—even slightly—who works in the field(s) you’re interested in. Make a second-string list of everyone you know who works in a related field—that is, everyone who might have some business contact with someone in your field. Your third-string list is of everyone you know who works (or is retired), but not in your field or a related one. They’re a last resort, but they may still have friends or relatives in your field.
“One by one, make appointments to see these people. Specify that you just want to see them for 15 or 20 minutes and that you just want to ask for advice. Try not to get hooked into asking for the advice on the phone—it’s too easy for the ‘advisor’ to rattle off some quick advice and then hang up. A good way to avoid this problem is to ask for advice on preparing your resume.
“Don’t schedule too many advice appointments at once. If your advisor sends you to someone else with a job opening, you want to be free to go.
“After every advice appointment, write a letter to the advisor thanking him for the advice and for any leads he might have given you. After you get a job, write another letter to every advisor thanking him again and telling him that you found a job.”
“For many job seekers, this is the last resort. It shouldn’t be. After all, since you’re interested in the company, you’d probably make an excellent employee. Eighty percent of all positions are filled through personal contacts or deliberate contacts.
“First, identify the companies that interest you, and then learn all you can about them. Find out who has the hiring power. (It’s probably not the personnel director, unless you’re looking for a lower-level job.) Some good tools for this research are in the library: Dun and Bradstreet, Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s and Thomas’s Register are all directories of American companies and include useful information.
“Next, write for information about the company and its products or services. After reading those materials, call up and ask if Mr. Johnson is in charge of hiring for the X department. They’ll tell you ‘No, it’s Mrs. Gladstone,’ and then you’re off and running.
“Write Mrs. Gladstone a short, perfect letter. Tell her you’re interested in working in that department of that company and why, without gushing. Enclose a resume if you fit their bill perfectly, but not if you’re changing fields. Say that you’ll call her next week to set up an appointment. Then call, talk, and sell her on seeing you. That call, for anyone without nerves of steel, should first be rehearsed again and again. Then you’ll sound natural, not nervous, during the actual call.
“Be prepared for a flat no. After all, they didn’t come looking for you. But try not to make it a waste of time. Be pleasant and friendly and ask if she knows of anyone who might be looking for someone like you. If she does, she might call him for you. More likely, she’ll say, ‘Maybe Al Johnson over at Advanced has an opening, but I don’t know.’
“Thank her, sit down and write the short, perfect letter to Mr. Johnson—but here you’ll have a good opening line: ‘Mrs. Gladstone at Consolidated suggested that I get in touch with you.’ If you do get an interview with Mr. Johnson, be sure to write Mrs. Gladstone a thank-you note for the reference.” Be careful not to abuse this technique, however. Mr. Johnson may call Mrs. Gladstone to see why she referred you, and if she doesn’t feel like she really referred you, your credibility will be shot.
Church Employment System
The Church offers a unique system to assist you in your job search. Each quorum, Relief Society, and ward has called an employment specialist to assist you.
If you are looking for employment, your employment specialist will call every member of the ward (or stake, through the stake employment specialist) who works for a company that hires someone like you. These members will arrange a meeting with the person who has the power to hire. If these steps aren’t sufficient, your employment specialist will work with a Church employment center to provide additional opportunities.
The employment specialists will also help you improve, or develop, the skill to obtain employment on your own. They have materials to help you advance within the company you currently work for.
If you are not quite certain what career to pursue, the employment specialists can provide assessment tools or refer you to members with the specialized information you need. Your local Church employment center also has career information available.
“If you are a senior or a very recent graduate, a traditional place to look for a job is in your school’s placement office. High school placement offices usually have listings of local companies which are looking for new employees. College placement offices will have both local and national listings. If your college has a reasonably good reputation in one or more fields, companies looking for people in those fields will send recruiters to the campus to interview candidates. If you majored in something that is sought after, such as accounting or engineering, your placement office may be all the job search you need.
“The most traditional marketplace for employees and employers is the newspaper. What kind of job is advertised in the newspaper? Just about every kind. Construction work, restaurant work, maintenance work, sales, marketing, management, accounting, engineering, general office work—you name it, and you’ll find it. You will even see ads for shepherds and beekeepers.
“Walt Disney got his job through a classified ad, and Mr. Sears and Mr. Roebuck got together through classified ads.”
“For almost every field of work which requires a degree, and for many which don’t, there is at least one specialized publication. These may be newspapers, newsletters, or magazines. They will keep you up-to-date in your field, and this knowledge will be apparent to potential employers. These publications also contain want ads.
“The periodical department of the public library has a catalog of journals and trade publications which are kept there. The librarian can help you find the names of even more which aren’t kept there, but which you could write for.
“Employment agencies charge a fee for bringing employees and employers together. Sometimes they are paid by the hiring company but usually by the job seeker. A reputable agency will never ask you for money until you have been hired.
“If you go to an agency, you may be asked to sign a contract agreeing to pay them a certain percent of your first-year’s salary as soon as you’re hired if you get the job through that agency. Only you can decide whether it’s worth paying a thousand dollars or so to someone else for finding you a job.” If you are a high school student seeking summer or part-time work, an employment agency is probably not a useful tool in your job search.
“Temporary services are not personnel agencies. Temporary services employ the workers themselves, pay them, contribute to their Social Security taxes, etc., like all regular employers. The workers actually perform their work at the client companies, which pay the temporary service directly. The workers may work part of the day; or all day several days a week; or all day, all week for several months. This can prove beneficial to those exploring various careers. One week you may be in a bank, the next in a law firm, and the next in a manufacturing plant.”
Government Jobs, State Employment Service
“The biggest employer in the United States is the U.S. Government, which employs people in all sorts of jobs, from ambassador to floor sweeper. No matter what line of work you have chosen, the federal government is a job source.
“The government has issued a booklet called Working for the USA. You can get a copy at your nearest federal job information center.
“Another bureaucratic source of jobs is your state employment service. They will notify you of openings and send you on interviews. They usually provide some testing and counseling services also.” Other countries have employment services including local offices which may be helpful to church members.
“You should understand that interviews are meetings at which decisions are made. The employer will decide in the first few minutes whether he wants you; you will decide by the end of the interview whether you want to work for him. These decisions may not be announced until several days or weeks later, but they are made during the interview.
“All the other parts of the job-seeking process are only a preparation for the interview. It is the ‘make or break’ part of the job search. Marginally qualified or even unqualified people have gotten jobs because of a brilliant interview, and people who looked perfect on paper have lost out because of a poor one.
“The more prepared you are for interviewing, the better your interview will be. We’ll help you prepare your mind and body. You might even end up enjoying interviews!”
“An amazing number of people come to interviews physically unprepared. Employers tell of people who arrive with holes in their shoes, stains on their clothing, dirty hands and faces, dirty hair or hair in curlers. People apply for office jobs wearing jeans and sneakers, or beachwear. They arrive with friends and small children. It’s incredible, but they do.
“The first impression an employer gets of you, even before you open your mouth, is a physical impression. He may not make a catalog of what you’re wearing (unless it’s inappropriate), but he sees the total effect. There are three main qualities that he will look for: you should be clean; you should be neat; you should be dressed appropriately for the job you’re seeking.
“Cleanliness is essential. Your hair, skin, and fingernails should be sparkling clean. Your clothing should be spotless and pressed. If you wear glasses, be sure they are absolutely clean, too. Your shoes should be polished. Women should avoid bright nail polish or overly long nails, and purses should be clean, unscuffed, neat, and in good condition.
“Neatness is also essential. Men’s hair, beard, or mustache should be recently and perfectly trimmed and well groomed. Women’s hair should be simple and unfussy so that hands can be kept away from it. Stick to subdued colors in your clothes—you don’t want the employer to remember you as ‘the fellow in the awful orange suit.’ Women can use more color, but should still avoid harsh colors or combinations.
“Carry as little as possible with you—a medium size purse for women, and nothing for men. You can fold your resume letter-style in a blank envelope and carry it in the purse or jacket pocket. If you have to bring samples of your work and must carry a briefcase, then don’t carry a purse.
“Why all these picky details? If you ignore them, you will give the employer the impression that you’re loaded with objects, looking for a place to put them, and not well organized.
“Wearing clothes appropriate to the job doesn’t mean that you should wear a hard hat to look for a construction job or a waitress’s uniform to a restaurant. It does mean that you shouldn’t wear ‘play clothes.’ For any office job, a suit is a must for men, and a skirt-suit or tailored dress for women. If you’re applying for a high-salaried job, your clothes should be as good as the salary. You have to look as though you deserve it.
“A final word on preparing the inside of your body. Don’t go hungry to an interview—your stomach might growl. Avoid onions or garlic for 12 hours before an interview. If you’re nervous, have a glass of milk about an hour before you go, because milk is a natural tranquilizer.”
“Mental preparation is really of two kinds: psychological preparation and intellectual preparation. Psychological preparation is a matter of developing a relaxed and positive attitude toward interviews. You should enter every interview as though it were going to be the one. After all, one of them will be. You’re not going in there to face a firing squad. You’re going there to learn. Nobody can force you to take the job if you don’t want it, and by the same token, you can’t force them to hire you. An interview is just an exploration of the possibilities.
“If you weren’t a possibility, they wouldn’t have agreed to interview you. That true thought should be kept in mind before and during every interview. They think you and several others are qualified to do the job. They’re going to pick the one that suits them best, but you’re all possibilities. You have a right to be confident about the interview—they gave you that right. And if your quiet confidence shows during the interview, they’re more likely to hire you.
“Another point: there’s no reason to be terrified. What’s the worst thing that can happen to you? The interviewer will say, ‘Well, thank you very much for coming. I have several other people to see, so of course I can’t make a decision until I’ve seen them.’ Interviewers are polite to a fault. They seldom say a flat no at the end of an interview, and even if they did, what’s so bad about that? They are not going to yell or scream or laugh at you or insult you.
“Intellectual preparation is a matter of doing your homework. Don’t ever go for an interview at a widget company without knowing what a widget is. You’ll have a better interview if you have some knowledge about the widget industry in general (gotten from the public library, trade journals, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, people who know). You’ll probably have a super interview if you know about that particular widget company (from the company itself in the form of advertising, promotional materials and annual reports, and from other sources, such as those listed above). You might not get to use more than five percent of that information in an interview, but it’s good to have it ready.
“Another form of intellectual preparation is having ready answers to difficult questions, and some questions of your own in case the interviewer says, ‘Do you have any questions?’
When you did your self-analysis you decided on certain qualities you expected in a job, such things as advancement opportunities and compatibility with gospel teachings and principles. When the interviewer asks for questions, be prepared to tactfully explore these areas. Remember that you are hiring an employer as surely as he is hiring an employee, and you have a right to know what you are getting into.
“Interviewers will almost never ask a question that can be answered yes or no. Some of the questions ask for factual answers, and these are the easiest to deal with. They are usually questions generated by the resume or by the job you’re applying for. Some examples: ‘I see that you once worked as a comptroller. Tell me about that job.’ ‘How did you go about supervising that many people?’ ‘Do you have any experience in forecasting budgets?’
“Once an interviewer has finished with the factual questions, and if he hasn’t already made up his mind, he’ll start asking the tough questions. The tough questions are the open-ended ones—the ones that aren’t asking for specific facts but for feelings, attitudes, overall views, hopes, etc. These are the real questions in an interview, so don’t plan on glossing over them. If you haven’t prepared some all-purpose answers, you may end up sounding like a runner-up for Miss America.
“Let’s take, for example, the most common tough question: ‘Tell me about yourself.’ The interviewer wants to know what kind of an adult life you have had and what your attitudes toward it are. If your answer is a series of negative statements or complaints, even if they’re perfectly true, you will ‘lose points.’ If it’s a short story of successful steps taken toward a definite goal, then you’re ahead. Keep your answer as short as possible and absolutely positive, and then say, ‘Is that what you wanted to know, or was there something more?’ In your answer to this, and to any other open-ended question, the points you want to make are: (1) You have the necessary skills for the job; (2) Your attitude is positive; (3) You’re looking for a career, not a job.
“There are other tough questions you should be ready for: ‘Why do you want to leave your present job?’
“No matter how awful the company, boss, or coworkers are, don’t criticize them. The interviewer could be your old boss’s cousin. You never know. Try to frame your answer in terms of personal growth. You want to advance to something bigger and better, you want to try something new, you are ready for the next step in your career—whatever, as long as you imply that you’re going to something, not away from something.
“‘What do you want to be doing five years from now?’
“Avoid answers that would imply leaving the company you’re applying to, such as starting your own business. Also avoid mentioning specific jobs that you’re aiming at, such as president of the company or sales manager or maitre d’. Your answer should be framed in terms of activities and responsibilities and does not have to be too specific.
“‘Why do you want to work here?’
The obvious answers that spring to mind all have to do with what you’re going to get out of it. Your answer should be framed in terms of what you can do for the company.
The Real Thing
“Now you’re really ready. You’ve got a good resume and a mental file of appropriate anecdotes. You look great, you feel confident, and you’ve got an appointment for an interview.
“Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Allow for traffic, car trouble, missed busses, and time to find the office once you get there. If you’ve arrived more than ten minutes early, hang around somewhere else nearby and then go in ten minutes early. If you arrive on the dot, you’ll be out of breath and flustered. If you arrive late, you’ll lose points. If something drastic happens, like an accident or a flat tire, get to a phone as fast as possible and call the interviewer to explain that you can’t get there and ask if the interview could be rescheduled at his convenience. If something prevents you from getting there and from calling, write a letter of explanation and apology.
“If weather requires that you wear a coat, take it off before you see the employer and, if possible, hang it up in the outer office or reception room before you go in to the employer’s office. If you must carry an umbrella, use a collapsing one and fold it before entering the building.
“If you’re sitting in a reception area, stand up as soon as you’re called. Most interviewers will come out to get you, so they can see you in motion. Smile, shake hands, and go with him to his office. Once there, don’t sit until you’re invited to. The interviewer may indicate where you are to sit. If the choice is left up to you, that’s part of the interview. Choose the chair that gives you both the most comfortable close view of each other.
“If you’re carrying a purse or briefcase, put it on the floor next to you. Don’t lean on the interviewer’s desk. Don’t cross your legs unless he can’t see them. Don’t chew gum. Try to keep your hands in your lap, but not clenched.
“The interviewer will almost certainly start with some small talk about the weather, sports, or some other nonjob topic. Be careful there, too. Don’t get hooked into a series of complaints or negative statements. If you hate football, don’t try to fake an answer or say you hate it either. Just try to turn the tide and say something like ‘I’m a basketball fan, so I follow the Hawks more than the Falcons.’ If you love football, don’t come on too strong, or he’ll think you’re not serious enough about your work.
“Then the interviewer may ask for your resume (which is why you always carry one to interviews). He will ask you the factual questions and then move on to the tough ones.
“At some point during the interview, maybe even before he asks you any questions, the interviewer may describe the company and the job. If you think of any questions that show you are familiar with the industry or that company, ask them then. It’s a good idea to have some ready before you go. If, in his description, he answers a question you were going to ask say, ‘Ah! I was wondering whether you did such and such.’
“The salary may have been advertised with the job, in which case there is no need for negotiation. If not, the interviewer may ask what salary you expect. If you’ve done your homework, you know what salary range is earned by people in that job with your experience. If pushed to name a figure, mention a range—from the middle of the range you know to the top of it. You should never bring up the subject of salary yourself until you have been offered a job.
“The interviewer will end the interview when he’s ready. Don’t try to prolong it. He’s already made up his mind. Unless he tells you precisely without being asked, ask when you can expect to hear from him. Then thank him and leave.
“After every interview, write a short thank-you note to the interviewer. Thank him for his time and helpfulness, and say that you’re very interested in the job and hope to hear from him soon. Mail it immediately so that he gets it while he still remembers who you are. That note could be the clincher between two applicants who are otherwise equal, and it’s also just plain good manners.
“There’s one last step. Write your impressions of the interview in your job-search notebook. If the interviewer asked you a tough question that you hadn’t prepared for, work up a good answer to it and put it in the notebook. Someone else might ask it, too. Of course, tomorrow morning he may call and offer you the job.”
“We hope this guide has been helpful to you in your search for a job. You have learned that a real job search involves a search of yourself as well—that you have to identify your abilities and needs and preferences and that you have to learn to communicate these to other people. You have learned to construct a good resume. You have learned to look for job possibilities everywhere and to explore all avenues. You have learned to face interviews unafraid, because you know how to prepare yourself for them.” Your ward employment specialist will gladly answer any further questions you may have. If you don’t know who your employment specialist is, ask your bishop or quorum leader.
“You are completely ready to go out and find the job you want. Once you have it, you owe it to yourself to go into it with an open mind. Do the best work you possibly can, with a willing and cheerful disposition. When you discover that the job is not perfect (no job is), don’t become discouraged. And above all, don’t let the quality of your work slip. If you are still a good worker in the face of adversity, you will be considered for promotion, or at least for a very good recommendation if you should later start looking for another job. You will also be able to keep your self-respect.
“Give any job a fair chance (at least six months) before deciding whether it’s worth staying there. It will not only give you a chance to learn, get used to the people, and earn some money—it will also look better on your employment record. Of course, if you suddenly get a fantastic offer of exactly what you wanted in less than six months, grab it.”
All material in quotation marks is copyrighted by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and is reprinted by permission.