Financial Answer Center
Searching for a new job can be practically a full-time job in itself, typically requiring some hard work. First you need to assess what you're good at and what you like to do, and then determine what kinds of jobs match your skills and wishes. Next, you need to locate available jobs, and then sell yourself to a prospective employer. Confidence and positive energy are valuable resources throughout the whole process.
There are a number of different job search resources you can take advantage of. You'll need to create a resume and cover letter and identify people who can serve as references. The interview is the culmination of your job search, and you should prepare well for it.
You may want to consider building your career skills with courses at colleges or universities, technical schools, community colleges, or online. At a minimum, in today's marketplace, you want to be computer literate when you start interviewing for jobs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This section is not meant to replace the services of a qualified career counselor. It contains information that is intended to inform, educate and create general awareness of available resources and things for you to do in your job search. Qualified career counselors are often available in high schools, colleges, and your local Department of Labor. After you have had an opportunity to read this chapter, we strongly encourage you to meet with a qualified career counselor.
While the challenge of finding a new job may not be that simple, it shouldn't be overwhelming. Unless you have extraordinary personal circumstances that severely limit your ability to work, or limit your eligibility for a variety of occupations, making a successful career transition may just require some time, some patience and a well thought-out plan of action. Think of a job search as a step-by-step process: It requires self-assessment, skill building, and realistic planning. Let's outline some important steps you need to take initially.
Step 1: What Do I Do Well?
Look at what you do well: Examine the jobs you've had and the skills that were necessary to be successful. If, for instance, you've been employed as an administrative assistant, make a list of all the skills beyond the obvious word-processing, receptionist, and filing responsibilities. These skills might include: organizing and scheduling office activities, making business and travel arrangements, setting up conferences, screening resumes of job applicants, etc. Look for the unique and often overlooked tasks that you were good at. Where did you excel compared to others?
Step 2: What Do I Like to Do?
If you're involved in volunteer work at a hospital, school, church, synagogue, temple, nursing home, or social club, you may have valuable skills that are transferable to the workplace. A volunteer at a school may simply read to the children. Yet schools today are hiring teacher's aides to participate in just this activity. Review and summarize the skills you've used or currently use outside the workplace. These are often things you do best and enjoy most.
Step 3: Combining Skills and Interests into a Job
The most exciting opportunity may be finding a job that combines your skills and interests. Studies often reveal that individuals who enjoy their jobs lead happier and more productive lives. The objective is finding the right balance between individual skills and employment opportunity. To enhance this potential opportunity, consider the services of a qualified career counselor. Career counseling services are often available for free or with minimal fees through local resources including the Department of Labor, high schools, colleges, your alumni association, vocational and technical schools, and employment agencies. These resources may offer standardized vocational and aptitude tests that can lead you in the right direction. Professional organizations and charitable organizations also offer services—sometimes free.
Step 4: What Jobs Are Available?Once you've decided upon the type of job you would like to have, the next step is to find out who is hiring and where the jobs are located. There are several paths you can follow. While some may be obvious—the help-wanted ads in the Sunday newspaper—there are others that you may not have thought of.