Effective Ways to Look for Work

David SpearsIn a previous blog post, Research Labor Market Information, we learned how to pin-point specific labor market information with regards to our own skills and interests. Knowing that, we can either be somewhat random in our search for work, or take a moment to consider some effective ways to look for a career.

Several tools are available today including newspapers and the internet, but did you know 65% of job openings are NOT advertised? The life span of a job opening includes the following stages:

Stage One – there are no job openings, but employers are always looking for good workers
Stage Two – the need to hire additional resources is clear to an employer, but no action is taken
Stage Three – a job opening officially exists. Referrals are desired and applications are accepted
Stage Four – a “help wanted” ad is placed which generates many responses

By contacting employers in the first three stages of a job opening, you have a 25% – 75% chance of actually speaking to someone about the job they’re advertising. If you wait until the fourth stage, your chances of speaking to someone are only 4% – 14%. Contacting employers before an ad is placed is referred to as networking, and accounts for about 80% of jobs found today.

The following are some ideas on networking, formally and informally:

  • Develop or make new contacts with friends, neighbors, former coworkers, college or school alumni, etc.
  • Join a social media network like LinkedIn or even Facebook.
  • It’s okay to informally mention you are looking for work at a party.
  • Join a professional association to develop contacts.
  • Request an information interview with someone you know. People like to talk about themselves.
  • Send out some networking email messages to people you know or associations.
  • Make some cold calls; but that is optional.

These are just a few examples. For more ideas, see the following:

The internet is another option you can use in addition to networking.

  • It will be helpful to post your application information on the Workforce Solutions job search website, Work in Texas. In fact, employers often view profiles on that website, so your profile can be working for you in the background while you attend to other matters.
  • It might also be helpful to select two or three major job boards such as Indeed.com or Monster.com. Again, similar to the Work in Texas job search database, your profile can be working in the background 24/7.
  • Go straight to the employer’s website to look for openings. Once you have registered on their website, it’s just a matter of checking once or twice a week and simply adding a job opening to your profile on that website.

In addition to networking, the following are some issues to be aware of in responding to employment ads:

  • Some ads do not give a company name, but rather a fax or P.O. Box number. These may be employment agency ads attempting to collect resumes.
  • Ads that promise a big paycheck usually mean a sales position. You earn a base salary plus commission.
  • Multiple positions usually indicate a new or expanding company. Competition is often fierce for these positions.
  • “Preferred” experience or education means you can apply for the position as long as you have other qualifications.

There is not just one way of looking for work, but rather a whole set of tools available within the realm of networking and applying. And yes, the “tried and true” method of looking for work is still possible in today’s digital world: applying in person! Some of you may or may not remember it.

David Spears is a member of the Workforce Solutions Navigator team for the Texas Gulf Coast Region. Combining training and education to real world examples, David brings personal and professional experience with disabilities to the table in order to help job seekers with disabilities realize their potential. David has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration with over 20 years of experience in the business world.



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