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The Mature, Overqualified Job Seeker
Job Hunting Tips
I wonder if you have any job hunting tips. I have a college degree, but I find myself working at a low wage night job until something better comes along. Today, I had a bad experience. I'd been told to come in to the local Spherion employment agency to "interview" in house for what I thought was a career position. When I applied there, I made it clear I wanted a permanent career position and was not interested in the temp pool. When I got there this morning, this totally unprofessional receptionist had me fill out forms and then wanted me to view a safety video. When I questioned her, she admitted this was for the temp pool. I told her if I wanted to continue working for low wages, I could just stay in my present job and that this was not what I wanted. She said, "This is all we do." So I politely said, "I won't waste any more of your time." I was seething! How does one get oneself on the A list for the professional positions? Any ideas where to look for permanent jobs that pay a decent wage?
Try a Different Employment Agency
Have you tried Office Team/Robert Half International? They do a lot of temp work as well, but also have temp to perm and some direct placement for those with the right degrees and experience. If you have the degree but not the experience, maybe doing one of the long-term temp positions will help you get the required experience on your resume, so that the companies will look at you favorably. You won't want short-term assignments if you're paying bills on your own, but three to six month assignments are not unusual either. The bad part of this is that these positions will not give affordable benefits or time built up towards unemployment benefits.
The Power of Networking
Getting a job is easy; finding a career is more challenging. Instead of thinking about where you can get a job, think of who will hire you with the job skills you possess. In other words, what do you have to offer to the employer? When you figure that out, network! Ask all your friends, family, past co-workers, and schoolmates to help you find someone who currently works at that company. Meet with that person and ask them how they got hired and what they like best (and least) about the company. Ask if you can job shadow. Then ask if they will be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. The HR department is probably a bad place to start; your application will be one of many. A personal contact works much better.
Gain Experience through Volunteering
Although a college degree is very important to finding a professional position, so is experience. If you have limited experience in the field you have chosen, consider finding a non-profit organization in your area where you could volunteer your expertise. Although it's not a paid position, it may give your resume a boost as well as making you feel good about giving back to your community.
Job Hunting Tips from a Former Career Counselor
As a former career counselor, I could write a book about finding jobs, even in tough times. I will focus on three resources here.
First, decide what sort of work you wish to do. Then, contact your college job placement center to see what help they can give you. They should be able to help you polish your resume and refer you for job openings at a minimum. Be sure to ask for a comprehensive list of the services they can provide.
Second, buy a job-hunting book like What Color Is Your Parachute?. The advice in this book is invaluable and is updated yearly.
Third, contact people in your field and ask for a ten or fifteen minute interview in which they might help you in some way, perhaps explaining the ins and outs of such jobs or reviewing your resume in order to help you aim it more precisely at your chosen field. Before you leave, ask if they know anyone else you can interview with. This is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door and distinguish yourself from all the emailed resumes they receive. Eventually, someone will be able to refer you to someone who has the opening you are looking for. That's how I got two of my most exciting jobs.
Don't ask about wages and perks until after you have a job offer. Show interest in the company and its goals. Do your homework before your interviews.
Barbara in CT
Reconsider Temp Positions
The benefit of working a temp job is that it opens a door for you to work in companies that you wouldn't otherwise get hired full-time because they require experience. I have worked in corporations in middle management, and we have always offered full-time positions to several temps whom we liked. If you can be open-minded about these temp positions and work hard to show your value to the those who work with you in the company, they will offer you a full-time position rather than looking to hire from outside. A lot of times, once you are in (even as a temp) and get to know people and they start depending on your work, they consider you as "one of them," and they will want to keep you. I have several fellow managers who got started as a temp as a recent college graduate. Many companies use temp agencies as a way to screen potential full-time employee candidates.
Look for a Port in the Storm
There are sites for "professionals." With many of them, you have to subscribe to them, and they are not cheap. I know of one called "The Ladders." It is for people with professional and executive level skills. Unfortunately, a college degree does not guarantee quality placement. You can do research online and find where "professional" types might look. And with the economy now, there is a glut of people out there who are highly qualified and all of them want jobs that pay a living wage. With the economy the way it is now, you may have to settle for "any port in a storm," while you keep looking for the dream job. My husband used to make a lot more than he does now. But when he was unemployed for more than a year, when a job offer came in, though it paid a lot less and was not actually in his field, he took it. It has allowed us to keep our home. And though money is tight, it is at least a job. Meanwhile, he continues to look for other opportunities that better fit his skill set and former pay range. You just have to keep on looking, and do what you have to do.
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