By Shannon Jackson
Special to The Toronto Sun
Most problems that surface during the job search have their beginnings in decisions you avoided before you started." This quote was taken from the book The Only Job Hunting Guide You'll Ever Need, by Katheryn and Ross Petras, but it's a reality that's found among struggling job seekers everywhere.
Imagine you are about to take a vacation. Before you leave, you would decide on a destination, plan your travel itinerary, map your route and decide what you need to take with you. Without knowing where you want to end up, it will be difficult to get there.
Yet, job seekers often approach the process without a destination or plan. Recruiters see it all the time. An applicant calls to talk about acquiring work. When the recruiter asks for details about what the person wants to do, they hear, "Anything".
This response is one of the great recruiter pet peeves. Successful candidates have their career focus before initiating their search.
Employers listed communication and organizational skills in the top five competencies they look for in a new hire. The best way to demonstrate your organizational skills, and to communicate them well, is to have a well-constructed plan.
Begin by conducting a self-assessment. Ask yourself what motivates you at work. Do you like working alone or with others? Do you enjoy public interaction, or prefer to be more "behind the scenes"? Are you happier in a position with lots of variety, or with more routine?
Your self-assessment can be conducted in a variety of ways. There are several free online aptitude tests that can help guide your initial exploration. Employment resource centres and HRDC offices often employ job counsellors who can direct you through the process.
Knowing what you want to do is key to deciding where to look for work. The Internet, newspapers, job fairs, industry associations and community groups are all great leads for finding opportunities. However, different types of jobs are usually advertised through different mediums.
Create a 30-second profile that includes your name, your career objective, and your experience. For example, "My name is Jane Doe. I have more than two years office experience, and am seeking a full-time administrative role with plenty of variety."
A 30-second profile gives your audience (the receptionist, a recruiter or even voicemail) the tools to begin to help you.
Once you have a general idea of the kind of work you want to do, temporary employment can be a fantastic way to explore the job market, try out various companies, build your skills and learn more about what you do and do not like. This can help you enhance the focus of your job search plan.
Keep a log book of where you've applied, how you've submitted your resume, and details of any follow-up conversations you've had. I have contacted job applicants who have left me voice mails with clearly communicated thirty-second profiles, and details about their resume submission.
Remember, if you can demonstrate strong organizational and communication skills, you've already shown two of the top five skills employers want.
(Shannon Jackson is the national recruitment manager for Manpower
Services Inc. www.manpower.ca
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