My Story: Job Hunting

contributed by JE

In response to Joyce's piece on job hunting at My Story: Finding a Job, I'd like to add some things:

  • An important fact in job hunting is that you may not find employment as fast as Joyce did. I was fortunate that after I was laid off from a career counselor position one time, I found another position within a month. Yet several years previously, it took me eight months to find a job. For others, the process may take a year or more. Job seekers need to be aware of the possibility that their personal search may last much longer than they anticipate or desire and they should prepare themselves for that reality.

  • Joyce mentioned applying for jobs that interest you even if you don't meet all of the qualifications. This depends because it sometimes doesn't matter how enthusiastic and willing you are to learn the appropriate skills, you still won't be hired or even contacted for an interview. The best thing to do is to move on.

  • If necessary, contact your local Social Services or unemployment agency to see if you're eligible for unemployment benefits, and if you are, apply for them. While they aren't much, these funds can at least provide some source of income as you continue your job search. Another source of income can be found by becoming a temporary employee, allowing you to "sample" various companies to find the one that's a good fit for you. Again, the funds you receive might not be much, but there's income coming in. Additionally, you can be on the lookout for possible openings within a company and apply for those that interest you. Numerous temporary agencies are found online and in phone books, with major ones such as Kelly Services, Manpower and Adecco frequently offering open houses at their local branches to give potential applicants the opportunity to check them out.

  • Another resource that a job seeker may want to utilize is their local county or state job center; contact information for these places can be found in phone directories, the internet or in libraries. I made use of the one near me while unemployed the first time around and had use of a work space, internet access, computers and printers to create and revise resumes and phone, something that I didn't have at home. If you qualify, you can also get job training for free at local career schools or community colleges. I wanted to upgrade my computer skills and was able to attend a nearby computer school for free. Job service agencies also provide seminars such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, searching for jobs via the internet and others geared to assist job seekers in upgrading or developing these skills. I'm convinced that because I made the effort to get to know the staff of counselors, they were able to serve as references and I was hired for a special project to serve as a career counselor for soon-to-be displaced workers of a local steel company.

  • You should frequently update your resume, as you acquire additional skills, abilities and work experience. By waiting until unemployment appears on the horizon, you may rush through the revision, leaving out critical information. There are numerous books available to assist in constructing the right resume and cover letter for you.

  • Richard Bolles' What Color Is Your Parachute Workbook: How to Create a Picture of Your Ideal Job or Next Career is one of the best resources out there; it's amazing just how much information is contained between the pages. Each revision just gets better and better.

  • Build a support network and stay in contact with them. Realize that sometimes, you'll need a break from the search and this is when your network comes in for encouragement. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself and do it.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

Take the Next Step

  • Dont be in Denial. If you feel that your job maybe at risk, have a contingency plan.
  • Take action today, so you will be better off tomorrow. For instance: find a new job, get additional training, and get out of debt.
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