ERIC Identifier: ED346318
Publication Date: 1992-00-00
Author: Wagner, Judith O.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Job Search Methods. ERIC Digest No. 121.
People look for jobs for many different reasons: they are laid off, they want
to reenter the work force, they want or need to relocate, they dislike their
present job, they want to get a better job, or they are entering the labor force
for the first time. This ERIC DIGEST provides guidelines for preparing for and
conducting a job search. Steps discussed include (1) developing a resume; (2)
locating prospective employers; (3) applying for the job; (4) interviewing; and
(5) following through. These are only guidelines; you will find additional
detailed information at your public library or high school or college career
center. "Job Search Methods" is a companion to ERIC DIGEST NO. 85, "Locating Job
DEVELOPING A RESUME
The two main types of resumes are the
chronological and the functional. A chronological resume is used when you have
had a fairly direct path of development from one position to another in the same
field. A functional resume emphasizes your skills and is used by people who
change jobs or careers frequently. A good resume will be one page long and will
capture your career goals and education and work history. However, for some
positions you should include lists of publications and a sample of your writing.
A resume should include the following information: name, address, telephone
number; job objective or career goal; educational history (degrees,
certificates, courses, accomplishments); work history including military service
(skills, experience); and memberships related to your job objective. Depending
on the position for which you are applying, it might also include work-related
honors or achievements, knowledge of foreign languages, ability to travel or
relocate, and security clearance information.
JOB APPLICATION FORMS
Some jobs do not require a
formal resume but may call for a written application. Most application forms
require basic information such as your name, address, and telephone number;
social security number; dates of previous jobs; names and addresses of former
employers; and dates of schooling or training. Before you begin to fill out the
application, read it through to be sure that you have all required information.
It is very important that you print the information neatly and legibly. If your
application makes a poor impression, you are unlikely to get further with that
Although not every job calls for letters of reference, you should ask people
if they would be willing to write one for you. Do not list someone as a
reference unless you have their permission to do so. Candidates for references
include former employers, teachers, volunteer supervisors, and other people who
can assess your character.
When you have determined the kind of job
you want, you must locate potential employers. Among the most frequently used
methods of finding them are making "cold calls"; getting information from
friends, relatives, or colleagues; reading want ads; and using employment
agencies. Usually, more than one source will be used and there are advantages
and disadvantages to all methods.
This technique involves visiting employers to see if there are
openings. A person using this method of finding a job needs high motivation and
good interpersonal skills. Sometimes talking directly to the person who makes
the hiring decision rather than the personnel office produces better results.
Before calling on small companies, it is a good idea to call or write ahead of
time; they may not appreciate interruptions. Letters followed by phone calls can
be effective for small and medium-sized businesses. Advantages of cold calls are
that some jobs are not listed anywhere else, the opening may be new, and you may
be in the right place at the right time. Disadvantages include the time involved
and the high rejection rate.
about an opening through friends, relatives, or co-workers is the most
successful way to get a job. One of the reasons for this is that employers do
not like to hire strangers. They know that people who are referred to a company
tend to be more stable and therefore will stay longer in the job. Advantages of
networking are that referrals often guarantee an interview, jobs offered often
are better with higher pay, and it is easier to develop a relationship with the
potential employer when referred by a colleague.
Many people start their job search with want ads. This is unfortunate
because it is frequently a last resort for employers. Advantages of classified
ads are that they list specific openings and have frequent new listings.
Disadvantages are that the jobs are often undesirable, hard to fill, or have a
high turnover rate; positions are often at the high and low ends of the
skill/experience spectrum--few in the middle; there is little information about
the job or employer; there is intense competition; and ads list a small
proportion of available jobs.
Public employment services are funded by the federal government and
administered by states. They are widely viewed as ineffective, primarily
offering low paying, low status jobs. Their main advantage is that there is no
cost to the client or employer. Disadvantages are that they are usually looking
for unskilled or casual labor; there are fewer occupations offered than listed
in want ads; and they offer limited opportunities.
Private/temporary agencies will, for a fee, try to match employers and
employees. Depending on the agency and the position offered, the fee may be paid
entirely by the employer or by the employee, or they may split it. Some agencies
specialize in a particular field such as clerical workers or sales people.
Private agencies tend to be more successful with experienced people with sharply
defined skills, good work histories, and employment in a single field.
Advantages are that they offer a chance for employer and prospective employee to
explore the possibility of a permanent relationship and they may list positions
not offered elsewhere. The main disadvantage is the fee.
APPLYING AND INTERVIEWING FOR JOBS
Once you have found a
job that sounds good to you, you must apply for it. This involves writing to the
company offering the job and including your resume or a job application. In
either case, your cover letter is very important--it is the first thing that
your prospective employer will see. The letter should be personalized and
contain information such as where you heard about the job, an indication of your
interest, why you are suited for the position, and your interest in
interviewing. It should include your name, address, and phone number.
The next step in the job search is the job interview, which involves an
exchange between people trying to find out whether they can work together to
mutual benefit. Before you go to the interview learn as much as you can about a
prospective employer by reading brochures, talking to present employees, calling
the chamber of commerce, or visiting the public library. Some interviewing dos
and don'ts: Do be honest; be prompt (better 10 minutes early than 1 minute
late); use a firm handshake; dress appropriately; make eye contact; address
interviewer by name--pronounced correctly; use good grammar; know something
about the company; prepare to ask intelligent and thoughtful questions; ask for
the job; and prepare to answer commonly asked questions and to respond to
questions that interviewer cannot ask. Don't sound arrogant; be too personal;
smoke or chew gum; make excuses; or bring up salary at the first interview.
After the interview, it is important to maintain contact with the prospective
employer. Write a thank you letter, indicating that you will call at a specific
time to find out your status regarding the position. Call when you said you
would. If the answer is no, ask why. Knowing why you did not get a job may help
you get the next one.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
More information including examples of
application forms, resumes, cover and follow-up letters, and frequently asked
interview questions will be found in high school and college career centers and
at your public library. They also have materials directed to special populations
such as veterans, minorities, and women. This bibliography lists examples of the
types of materials you will find there.
Allen, Jeffrey G. JEFF ALLEN'S BEST: GET THE INTERWIEW. New York: John Wiley
& Sons, Inc., 1990.
Allen, Jeffrey G. JEFF ALLEN'S BEST: THE RESUME. New York: John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., 1990.
Allen, Jeffrey G. JEFF ALLEN'S BEST: WIN THE JOB. New York: John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., 1990.
Help in writing resumes, getting interviews, developing contacts,
establishing networks, marketing yourself, and writing cover letters.
Baxter, R., and Brashear, M. DO-IT-YOURSELF CAREERKIT: A CAREER PLANNING
TOOL. Moraga, CA: Bridgewater Press, 1990.
Step-by-step guidance in finding out about yourself and what you want from
work, zeroing in on job opportunities, and getting where you want to go.
Beatty, Richard H. THE PERFECT COVER LETTER. New York: John Wiley & Sons,
Purpose and importance of cover letters, good and bad design, and practical
advice regarding information to be included.
Bloch, D. P. HOW TO HAVE A WINNING JOB INTERVIEW. Lincoln, IL: VGM Career
Offers 12 steps to a winning interview and helps you decide if the job for
which you are interviewing is the one you want.
Bloch, D. P. HOW TO WRITE A WINNING RESUME. Lincoln, IL: VGM Career Horizons,
A step-by-step guide to help you through the resume writing process.
Bloomfield, W. M. CAREER ACTION PLAN. Bloomington, IL: Meridian Education
Exercises and activities that will help you plan your future as it relates to
Kimeldorf, M. PATHWAYS TO WORK. Bloomington, IL: Meridian Education
What employers look for in an application, what kinds of questions are asked
during an interview, and how to describe your skills and interests.
Kimeldorf, M. WRITE INTO A JOB. Bloomington, IL: Meridian Education
How to write a job-getting resume that will highlight your qualities.
Medley, H. Anthony. SWEATY PALMS: THE NEGLECTED ART OF BEING INTERVIEWED.
Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1984.
Information on types of interviews, controlling the content of an interview,
salary discussions, preparation, and difficult questions.
Merrill, F. L. JOB SEARCH MANUAL FOR MATURE WORKERS. Los Angeles, CA: Los
Angeles Council on Careers for Older Americans, 1987. (ED 311 300)
Provides help to mature people on changing careers, looking for a second
career, or returning to the work force after retirement.
PASSAGE, YOUR WORKPLACE AND JOB SKILLS INFORMATION NEWSLETTER.
Information on all aspects of the job search. Available from Beaver County
Area Labor-Management Committee, 617 Midland Avenue, Midland, PA 15059.
Reed, Jean. RESUMES THAT GET JOBS. New York: Prentice Hall, 1990.
Information on resumes, classified ads, cover letters, and interviews.
Wegmann, Robert; Chapman, Robert; and Johnson, Miriam. WORK IN THE NEW
ECONOMY. CAREERS AND JOB SEEKING INTO THE 21ST CENTURY. REVISED EDITION.
Alexandria, VA: American Association for Counseling and Development;
Indianapolis, IN: JIST Works, Inc., 1989. (ED 308 322)
Information on finding jobs, deciding on a job objective, getting interviews,
using labor market intermediaries, and using effective interview strategies.
Yate, Martin John. RESUMES THAT KNOCK 'EM DEAD. Boston: Bob Adams, Inc.,
Includes actual resumes and explains how to put a resume together.