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Searching for a job can be overwhelming, and it is often hard to know where to start. There are many things you need to do to create a resume and search for a job, but you can break down the process into manageable steps.
Our “Steps of a Job Search” series highlights these steps. As we go through, follow along with Patricia and Nate (our fictitious examples) to see how it works.
Thinking about possible jobs
Now that you have a list of experience, education, skills, and hobbies, it is time to think about where you would like to work, what positions are available, and how you can connect with potential employers.
Where would you like to work?
Think about where you shop and what you like to do.
- Is there a store you shop at often enough that the employees know you?
- Is there a store that specializes in your hobbies?
- Do you have baseline skills or knowledge employers seek?
- Do you have contacts you can network with to help with your job search?
Make a list of places you would like to work that might be a good fit for you.
Employers can teach skills, but finding employees who are enthusiastic or knowledgeable about their products or service can be challenging. Capitalize on your passion and demonstrated knowledge to target employers that match your interests.
Examples: Patricia and Nate
- Patricia is an avid baker and has a blog where she shares recipes she has tried and what she has baked, which is a good way to demonstrate proof of performance (see Showcasing Communication Skills: Blogger Jessica Niziolek Spreads Disability Awareness and Blog Your Way to a Successful Career). There is a new bakery in town so she begins her list of potential employers with the bakery.
- Her friend, who works in the public schools, told her there are teaching aide positions opening up for the next school term soon. Patricia adds the elementary schools to her list since she has experience and interest in working with students.
- Patricia doesn’t drive so she shops in the neighborhood grocery store frequently. The staff know her and seem friendly. She writes down the local grocery store as a place she may want to work.
- Patricia’s list of hobbies include reading, gardening, volunteering and social work. She has a favorite bookstore she frequents so she adds it to her list.
- Considering her interest in gardening, she adds all the plant nurseries and gardening centers in town to her list.
- Finally, there are several non-profits she is interested in so she writes those organizations down as well.
- Nate is passionate about skateboarding. He adds the skate shop to his list of places he is interested in working.
- Nate is not sure how he can capitalize on his interest in video games, but he plans to keep thinking about that.
- His mom went to high school with someone who owns a construction company. He adds her construction company to his list.
- Finally, Nate remembers one of the families he babysat for owns a small hardware store. He adds the hardware store to places he may be interested in working.
Where are the jobs?
Finding work depends on finding job openings. Spend time learning about the economy and job market where you live. Is there a strong tourism industry that needs employees in hospitality fields? Is construction booming? Is there a new employer in town?
Knowing what jobs are available might spark your interest in a field you hadn’t previously considered.
To get a feel for the job market in your area, use online job boards and job search engines to see what types of jobs are available. You can use these tools to search for jobs based on location, field, and skill. See the Job Boards section on the Active Job Search page for more information.
Make a list of employers you are interested in and would like to connect with.
Examples: Patricia and Nate
Patricia lives in an area that does not have a big economy or very many new jobs. However, a call center for a cable company opened several years ago. She had not considered customer phone support as something she was interested in pursuing, but it might be a good fit with her strong communication skills.
During an online job search, Nate learns that a convention center is being built in his town. They have posted several positions with hours dependent on their event schedule. Nate is intrigued and adds the new convention center to his list as somewhere he might want to work.
Investigate Potential Employers
Now that you have a list of employers you are interested in, see if you can gather more information and make connections.
Google your potential employers. Were they in the news recently? Do they have an online presence? If they have social media accounts, follow them. Companies will often share job postings on their social media platforms to find employees who are engaged with their work.
See the Researching Employers section on the Active Job Search page for more information on how to research employers.
Ask your network of friends, family and former coworkers about the potential employers you are interested in.
- Do they know anyone who works in the company?
- If so, are they hiring?
- What characteristics does the employer look for when hiring?
- How does the company fill positions?
Examples: Patricia and Nate
Patricia looks over her list which includes a new local bakery, local schools, her grocery store, a bookstore, gardening stores, and a collection of nonprofits.
- She starts googling and learns the bakery has a Facebook page under construction, but nothing else. She “likes” the page and makes a note to mention in a cover letter that she could help them build their online presence. She also decides to mention her baking blog to demonstrate proof of performance.
- Patricia reaches out to her friend who works for the school district to gather information about the district’s hiring process. Job postings are shared internally before they are posted externally, and the friend offers to share internal job postings with Patricia so she can keep an eye out for the job when it is publicly posted.
- During a quiet moment at the grocery store, Patricia asks her favorite checker about the store’s hiring process. The employee tells Patricia that employees receive a bonus when they facilitate a hiring, so they are very interested in helping her apply. They exchange contact information and the employee promises to let Patricia know when jobs are posted.
- Patricia checks a local job board website and notes a gardening center is hiring.
- The bookstore she has on her list doesn’t have a job listed on the job board, so she goes to the bookstore’s website to see if they have any posted. She doesn’t see anything posted, but decides next time she is in town she will visit in person and ask about job openings.
- The nonprofits Patricia is interested in have an online presence and some of them are looking for volunteers. Patricia follows them on social media and decides getting her foot in the door with one of these organizations would be a good idea. She calls the volunteer coordinator at the group that interests her the most and asks how she can become a volunteer.
Nate’s list of potential employment opportunities include the skate shop, his mom’s friend’s construction company, the hardware store the family he babysat for owns, and the convention center that is being built.
- The next time Nate goes to the skate shop, he asks a staff member about their hiring process. Nate learns the skate shop tends to hire customers and is encouraged to submit a letter of interest and a resume so they can have it on file if a position becomes available.
- Nate talks to his mom about her friend’s construction company. Luckily, the friend is coming over for dinner next week, so Nate decides he will make a point to attend that dinner and ask her about how she fills positions.
- Nate asks the family he babysits for how they hire employees at their hardware store. He is told they will start their search for seasonal employees next month and they encouraged him to apply.
- Nate researches the convention center and learns they are using an online job board to administer their hiring process. Nate sets up an account with the job board so he is notified when the convention center is ready to hire. Nate also follows the convention center on social media so he can keep track of when the construction will be done and they will be looking for new employees.
Gathering information about potential employers takes effort, but what you learn will help you throughout your job search process. Don’t be shy about reaching out and networking. Establishing personal connections is an effective job search strategy.
The next step in the job search process is creating your resume. Thankfully, a lot of the work to compile your resume has been done by now. Stay tuned for the net blog post: Master Resumes!
All photographs from Healthy Community Living (www.HealthyCommunityLiving.com).