Ready, Set, Graduate!

Earlier this week, I had great fun speaking with The Frugal Yankee radio show about applying for jobs. The host had posted a job opening on a website and had received outrageously crafted e-mail inquiries in response. The host was horrified that people actually thought there was a chance they could be hired. "Dude, so what is this job about?" did not bode well for one applicant. During our conversation, the host asked for my top ten tidbits of advice for those looking for work. In addition to it being graduation season, there have been rumors of recession, so now is an opportune time to review some of the basics for seeking employment.

  1. Ready Resume ~ Have your resume ready. If a recruiter calls, you should be able to e-mail him/her your resume while speaking on the phone. Spellchecking and proofreading your resume are not optional. Be sure your resume is error-free.
  2. Mannerly Message ~ The phone number listed on your resume should have a positive, professional outgoing message so that when recruiters call, they remain interested in speaking with you after they have heard your message.
  3. Styling Suit ~ In your closet, ready to go, you must have a full interview outfit that fits you. This means the suit, shirt, hosiery, shoes, watch, portfolio and pen; so when the interviewer calls you can meet that afternoon or tomorrow morning.
  4. Stunning Smile ~ Companies hire people they like. Be likable. Smile nicely at people you meet at networking events, graduation parties, and job fairs. You never know who is part of their network. Even for interviews, smile at the receptionist, secretary, interviewer and anyone else you meet along the way.
  5. Vague Idea ~ Have a basic concept of what you are interested in doing, and what you will not do. This does not mean you necessarily need to know the job title for the position you want. Read the job descriptions. During the interview, ask questions. Finding a job is a mutual selection process. You have say in the matter. Look for a job you really want.
  6. Curious, Willing & Open ~ There are many jobs out there besides doctors, bakers, and firefighters. Take the time to explore your options. Request informational interviews and do some research, because the perfect job for you may be one you know nothing about. (Growing up I had no idea I could be an etiquette expert!)
  7. Walk the Line ~ Yes, you should tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job. But don't beg, seem needy, or exude desperation. Be upbeat and breezy. Don't ask if they have any job openings; instead ask if they know of anyone who may have job openings. Having a positive attitude is critical.
  8. Generate Activity ~ Stay busy. Go to networking meetings, volunteer for local committees, and organize lunches. Check the job listings every day, send out resumes every day, call to follow up on openings you have applied for every day. Activity breeds activity and eventually leads to a job.
  9. Formal First ~ Many of the job application vehicles are seemingly informal methods of communication. E-mails, websites, and on-line listings tend to lend themselves to informality. Do not be fooled. Use "Dear," "Mr.," "Ms.," and "Sincerely" until you see how they are communicating with you. Once you know the organization's level of formality, you can mirror it.
  10. Thankful ~ Get into the habit now of being grateful. For anyone who offers a lead, refers you to a job, takes you to lunch, interviews you, or helps during the interview process; write a thank you note. The note need not be long. But good manners will take you far.
This weekend, my family will gather to celebrate my cousin Alex's graduation from college. According to the news, he is graduating into an undeclared recession. Along with the thousands of other college graduates, he is going to be looking for a job. This may all seem quite daunting. But I will share a secret with Alex and with you: There Are Always Jobs. For polite people with positive attitudes, there are always jobs.