Labor Day is a yearly celebration of social and economic accomplishments made by America’s workers. The day recognizes the labor force’s great contributions to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Beginning in 1885, local governments began recognizing their efforts by passing city ordinances. However, it was not until June 28, 1894 that Congress officially established the first Monday of every September as Labor Day. To this day, many people challenge who was the founding father of the holiday; I will leave that open for debate.
Across the nation, celebrations are held in some form or fashion. Labor Day is a federal holiday, so many employees take the day off from work and enjoy time with friends and family. Cities hold parades to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, typically followed by a festival of recreation and amusement for the workers and their families. Generally, many see this as the last unofficial weekend of summer and plan several outdoor activities.
Not to ruin anyone’s plans, but this might be a good time to develop communication skills. Let me explain. Whether you are employed or unemployed, the idea of always being prepared to be employed should be continuous. To help you, below are job search tips to help guide you, and perhaps as a challenge to use with friends or family. After some time, the techniques can become second nature. This can be an advantage because it helps build your confidence which employers do notice in potential employees. The tips are part of Workforce Solutions adult curriculum, “Sharpening Your Interviewing Skills”:
1. First Impression – How long does it take to form a first impression? According to research, it takes approximately 7 seconds (Anna Pitts, Graduate Recruitment Bureau), and the clock may start before making initial contact with another person. Therefore, it’s important to smile, dress appropriately, and have a great handshake. You never know who or which employer you’ll meet.
2. Watch for Errors – It’s important to be mindful of non-verbal cues as well. There are four types of non-verbal cues: appearance, facial expression, body language, and tone of voice. Bad examples of appearance may include grooming, visible tattoos, or excessive jewelry. For facial expression, of course, you do not want to roll your eyes or yawn excessively; and remember to SMILE! Poor body language can include bad posture, or lack of eye contact, among other things. Eye contact is important because it establishes trust and reveals that you have nothing to hide, much like a proper/firm handshake. If you’re not sure, there are many resources online on how to deliver a proper handshake. Lastly, your tone of voice. Be sure to practice your speed and volume when speaking, and please do not be mono-tone.
3. Tell Me About Yourself – This is often the first question of an interview, or when you’re networking. It is important that you know how to answer this question because It can set the stage for the rest of an interview, or your possible future employer. Fortunately I have an answer for you on how to respond to this question. The Workforce Regional Team developed a script called the “30 Second Commercial.” You can find it on our website: Workforce Solutions.
Below is an example of how a job seeker seeking a position in construction might respond to the question:
“My name is ______________, and I have worked in construction for 2 ½ years. I’ve laid concrete and worked in new construction. I have built frames and installed doors. I have roofing experience and laid shingles. I’m good at using heavy equipment, drills, and nail guns. I have my own personal car, steel toe boots, and safety equipment. I have worked with and learned from a Master Electrician. Projects I’ve help complete are Memorial Hermann Hospital, local restaurants, and hotels. I am coachable and embrace team environments. I am looking for work in construction.”
What information do you see in that example? I see skills and experience and nothing personal about family issues or what this person does on the weekend. Remember, when you create your “tell me about yourself” response, keep it professional and related to employment. Be sure to its clear, concise, and succinct. And remember to show confident body language and maintain eye contact.
We covered some tips on first impressions, watch for errors, and tell me about yourself. If you incorporate them into your regular routine, there’s no doubt you will be a successful job seeker. So, take a moment during this next week to sharpen those interviewing skills. If nothing at all, I hope at least one reader uses this knowledge to their benefit. My goal is to assist every job seeker so they can contribute to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Daniel Mabry is a member of the Workforce Solutions Regional Navigator team in the Houston-Galveston region. After serving in the United States Marine Corps for over 9 years, he connected with Workforce Solutions for career guidance and ended up becoming an employee. This position allows him to utilize his training and personal experience to help people experiencing homelessness.