The New Millennium: No Better Time
to Find a New Job

By Melanie Graff, Operations Manager, The People Connection, Inc.

It is exhilarating to consider the incredible progress that humankind has enjoyed just over the last 100 years. Technology seems to be improving exponentially, and some find it unfathomable to ponder what will come in the next century, let alone 1000 years. While we cannot know what changes will occur, we can be confident that the changes will be remarkable. As such global changes draw near, some readers may be considering making meaningful changes in their own lives. Perhaps some are thinking about making changes in their personal lives. For those, this article will not provide much assistance. But for the readers thinking about making changes in their professional lives, the following will provide information and support to inspire you to become active in the search for a new job: The first thing that you have to do is make a decision. Once you decide that you are ready for a change, and are prepared to take action, you will encounter more substantial decisions down the road.

Get it in Writing

As we all know, there is no way of getting around the fact that a resume is essential when applying for a new job. Unfortunately many job seekers do not spend adequate time when creating their resumes. The most effective resume is brief, and details your significant employment history. It should include specific skills, such as a variety of software knowledge, that you can immediately apply to your next opportunity. Your resume should also contain information on your educational background, including special certifications. Finally, it is helpful to account for large periods of time when you may not have been working. You should be ready to tailor your resume to each position which interests you. Think about the job description, and customize your resume to that position. You will want to draw attention to the areas of your work history that most closely match the required skill set of this new opportunity. If you are at a loss as to how to begin this process, seek advice from books, the Internet, or professionals. For example, if you are working with a staffing service for your job search, a Consultant will be happy to sit down with you and provide constructive criticism on your resume; helping to get it moving in the right direction. The investment of time you are willing to put into your resume will certainly pay off in the end. A clear, uncluttered and informative resume is sure to catch the attention of any potential employer.

Sharpening your Tools

Over a period of time in any position, employees tend to become comfortable with their jobs, especially if they are utilizing the same skill set on a daily basis. Once you have decided to “get out there,” and begin the job search, you may need to go outside of your current comfort zone. You should take a good look at yourself and assess whether of not all of your sills are as sharp as your resume indicates. In other words, you may have entered your current job as an expert on all Microsoft Office applications. However, for the past two years, you have not needed to work with Excel or PowerPoint. Now is the time to brush up on those skills again. Most computer proficient people are able to get refreshed on software applications with relatively little effort. Any good staffing service will welcome you to use their computer tutorials in order for you to regain lost skills, or even learn new ones. The service should also put you through their testing when you are ready, in order to gauge your level of knowledge. It is important that you project confidence when discussing your technical skills during the interview process. A savvy interviewer will sense any uncertainty that you may be feeling.

Exercise your Options

As you start your search for a new job, be sure to clearly think through all of your available options. Networking is an excellent way to spread the word that you are in the market for a new opportunity. Nothing speaks louder than a referral from a trusted contact to a potential employer. As helpful as the Internet can be regarding the job search, a good portion of seekers still find jobs by answering classified ads. Not to say, however, that the Internet should be disregarded. It is a great research tool, and many people find success in posting their resumes, and interacting with prospective employers via Cyberspace. Another successful way to job search is by working with a good staffing service. If possible, choose a service that is recommended to you by a reliable source. The service should spend ample time with you, and really get to know you. The Consultants should not only learn what your employment history and skills are, but also illicit the types of work that you find gratifying, as well as the environments in which you feel most comfortable. If you want to stay within the same industry, make sure they know what you like about your current situation, and what you don’t like about it. That way they can focus their efforts on introducing you to similar opportunities, but will not require you to work within the specific area you dislike. Or, if you are looking to change industries, the Consultant should be able to offer you a variety of options based on your skill set and areas of interest.

While most services should have the ability to locate you a Direct Hire opportunity you may choose to do some temporary work for a while, or even try a Temp-to-Hire. The Temp-to-Hire allows the candidate and the employer to work together for a set period of time (usually anywhere from 3-6 months), prior to the hire. Essentially, the probationary period occurs before the candidate is hired on by the firm. In most cases the procedure for getting offered the Temp-to-Hire is the same as it would be for a candidate applying for a regular position. In other words, the staffing service will present the interested candidate’s resume to the employer then interviews and reference checks will take place. When the employer elects to start the candidate on the Temp-to-Hire, it is safe to assume that if all goes well during the initial few months the candidate will be offered a regular position with the firm. Not only is this a favored option these days for employers, it is a great way for the candidate to safeguard himself from mistakenly accepting a job that is ultimately not be the best decision. Therefore, the Temp-to-Hire is currently a popular choice for all parties. Whenever you do any temporary work, be sure you are content that the hourly wage being offered to you is fair. Hourly wages that you will receive through a credible staffing service should be commensurate with the expected annual salary for that position. Also, some services offer bonuses such as paid holidays or longevity payments, to reward their staff for loyalty. It will benefit you to seek out the more generous services. Whatever choices you make, do your homework and get well informed; this will allow you to make the best use of your job-search time.

The Quest for Success

During the interview process, it is important that you take full advantage of your “face time” with potential employers. It is the best way to make a strong impression, and set yourself apart from the competition. Be sure to dress appropriately. Wear the most professional and well-pressed attire you own. Pop a breath mint in your mouth prior to the interview. Bring a clean copy of your resume, as well as a list of references. They should be held in an attaché or folder, do not have them loosely floating around in a bag. When you are introduced to the interviewer, smile and make good eye contact while offering a firm (but not painful!) handshake. Once the actual interview commences let your personality shine through. It is advisable to be forthcoming with pertinent information, but do not provide unnecessary details, such as disclosures from your personal life. If you need special accommodations, for example, for childcare, you can relay that during negotiations after the job has been offered. Use the interview as a way to show your strengths and interests. Be friendly, and ask well-thought-out questions. No candidate should arrive at an interview without researching the organization. Most firms and companies have web sites which can be easily accessed. A sample of a smart question: “I learned from your web site that the firm has doubled in size over the past 5 years. To what do you attribute this growth?” Employers will invariably appreciate the fact that you did your homework. Once you have completed the interview, follow up immediately with a thank you note. A handwritten card is still the best, but an e-mail message will also suffice, especially if it is a more e-mail friendly environment. Be sure to acknowledge the time the interviewer took with you, and make mention of your interest in returning for a second meeting. If you are working through a staffing service, you should get in touch with your Consultant and provide him or her with your candid feedback. Attitude is everything when interviewing. Obviously, employers need to hire a skilled candidate into the position, but equally as important, they want to hire someone with whom the team will enjoy working.

The Offer you Can’t Refuse

You have researched the job market, created a solid resume, interviewed with a variety of organizations, and now you have been presented with a job offer. There are a myriad of details to consider when mulling over an offer. For example, if you are changing industries, there is a good chance that you will have to take a pay cut. Because you are coming to the table with great enthusiasm, but no practical experience, you will probably have to accept a financial step backwards, before you can go forward. Or, if you are not taking a big leap outside of your area of expertise, but have been offered a position which pays less than you are currently earning, consider the whole package before declining the offer. Many organizations offer extremely generous benefits, occasionally including stock options, which add up to greater compensation than you may realize. Also, some firms provide “soft” perks like a casual dress code (which can save a lot of money on work clothes!), or flexible schedules to accommodate their employees. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. It can’t hurt to ask for the things which are important to you. But, don’t get greedy or go over-board; show gratitude if the employer is willing to meet you half way. Be smart. Base your decision on all the variables, compare the overall package to your current situation, and make the choice that reels right to you.

A Final Thought

The most essential component when conducting a job search is that you retain your confidence. There is no doubt that the right job is out there for you. Now, all you have to do is get active in the search, and make wise choices. Sooner or later the perfect opportunity will introduce itself to you.

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