GETTING THE JOB: A GUIDE FOR EMPLOYMENT SEEKERS
By Rodney S. Laughlin
If you want to find a job, this booklet will show you how. If you want to know how God works through the job hunting process, this material will teach you.
When I began to include God in my career decisions, I discovered new strength for living, a new understanding of myself and a more suitable lifestyle. If you’ll include God in your job hunt, He will bring you life’s greatest experiences.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE HUNT
Many negative thoughts and feelings challenge every job hunter. Some of these thoughts will come in the form of questions. “How come I’m the one who is looking?” “Why couldn’t I make the last situation work out?” “How come I was the one laid off?” “Why hasn’t anyone offered me a job?” “Is there something wrong with me?” If you have to answer these questions from the limited perspective of your experience, you may come up with negative and disconcerting answers. Your confidence may slip. You may become discouraged, frustrated and lonely. As your confidence slips, you’ll waste time procrastinating and more questions will creep in to stir up even more negative thoughts. This leads to more discouragement and more wasted time. The frustration grows and the feeling of loneliness intensifies. The cycle can get vicious, defeating even the strongest and most dynamic workers.
The battle will be in your mind, fought with thoughts. This section is designed to give you facts that will lead to correct, true and substantive positive thoughts that will sustain you when the going gets rough. When you finish, you will be aware of three basic truths that will encourage you. You will be prepared for the battle ahead with a good understanding of the emotional seesaw that is waiting to throw you. You’ll also know how to avoid being thrown. Return to this section and read it again whenever you find yourself thinking negative thoughts or experiencing discouraging feelings.
General Truths for Job Hunters
1. You Are OK.
As questions enter your mind you’ll find yourself asking that most basic of all questions: “Is there something wrong with me?” You’ll begin to wonder: “Am I really normal? How come I’m in this situation?” The answer is “Yes,” you are normal. You’re in this situation because you’re normal. Job hunting is a normal experience. It’s the unusual person who never finds himself in a job hunt. Every month there are a million people looking for jobs. Every year twenty percent of our population changes jobs. The average person is job hunting (or considering it) about every three years.
You probably don’t like it. Good! That’s another sign of how normal you are. Almost nobody likes job hunting. For two reasons: it’s hard and it’s frightening. Effective job hunting requires a lot of hard work and there’s no way to get anyone else to do the work for you. You have to do it yourself and you have to run the risk of making a mistake, of embarrassing yourself, of being rejected. No matter how you go about it you will probably have someone tell you “No” when you want to hear “Yes.” So when you find yourself thinking “I don’t like this,” consider it a confirmation of your normality.
You may find yourself frightened. That’s OK, too. We’re all frightened when we’re out of work.
You really are OK. Your worries, doubts and fears are evidence of your normality. However, since worries, doubts and fears sap so much strength you need to get them out of your way. Points two and three will help do that.
2. God Cares and Is Able.
There are two truths to hang onto here. First, God cares. Second, He is able to care for you. I
want my friends to care about my situation because they can come by and give me support. I want my wife to care because she can give me comfort. I want everyone who knows me to care; perhaps one of them can change the circumstances. But most of all I want to know that God cares. I know that He can change the situation. Praise His name, the Bible tells me that He does care. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you”(I Peter 5:6-7).
The message is clear. God cares for you. Because He cares, He has provided a way for you to avoid worry.
3. You Are Needed.
Someone out there needs you. You’re no mistake. You’re not an extra. You’re necessary. Somewhere, somehow, someone needs you. Work is for our benefit, so God provides enough for everyone.
In reality, it may take you six months, it may even take you a year to find that person. The Lord may drain you of all your financial resources. He may make you depend upon someone else for help. There may be some lessons you’ll never learn any other way. But no matter how long you search, no matter how many lessons you need to learn, there’s someone out there who needs you.
I’ve been through lots of job hunts. I’ve heard “No” dozens of times. I’ve had every probing question pop into my mind. I’ve even wondered if I really fit anywhere. Through it all I’ve always been sustained by holding fast to these three convictions: I’m normal, God cares and is able to care, someone needs me. Hold fast to these convictions. After searching I always found someone who needed me. In God’s timing, you’ll find the employer who needs you.
Coping With Unemployment
When you lose your job you lose many things: income, self-esteem, identity, order and predictability of life, purpose and contact with friends. You can cut these losses and diminish their impact if you get them into proper perspective and work to control them.
Since money problems can affect every aspect of life we’ll deal with your loss of income first. Take stock of your financial situation by drawing up a balance sheet. List all your assets in order of liquidity. That is, put cash first, then those assets that can quickly be turned into cash (such as securities), then those that take awhile to sell (such as land) and last of all, major items such as your house. Value each item at the amount you would net if you were to sell it now (after any commissions and other expenses). Don’t “puff up” the value of anything so that you look like you have more than you do. This sheet is to help you, not impress others.
Next list your liabilities, what you owe. Calculate your net worth by subtracting your liabilities from your assets.
Project your income for the next six months assuming that you will not have a paycheck during that period. Include any other family paychecks, interest, unemployment compensation, etc. If you are entitled to unemployment compensation, don’t be too proud to take it. Your employer paid unemployment insurance premiums so that it would be available for you. It is part of the Lord’s provision
If you have not been operating on a budget, you should make one up immediately. It’s most important that you determine your minimum monthly expenses, what it takes to live at a survival level. Compare these expenses to your income. Do you have enough income to pay your bills?
You should always have enough cash on hand so that, combined with your income, it will be sufficient to pay your bills for the next ninety days. If you do not have enough income and cash to last ninety days, sell assets until you do. You need to be prepared to sell everything except your house, furniture and automobiles. If you have anything other than a basic car, be willing to sell what you have and buy a more basic car until you can afford the higher priced model again.
What if there’s no way to pay all your bills? What if you simply cannot meet even your most basic expenses? First, don’t panic. A solution will appear no matter how bad the situation is.
Second, go to any creditors and your landlord and explain the situation. Propose a schedule of payments that you can afford (such as 50-percent payments). If necessary, ask for a 90-day payment moratorium. Most creditors prefer to work with their debtors. The last thing they want is a repossession or a foreclosure. If you do not feel capable of handling your debt problems, you may find help at a nonprofit community credit counseling association. You can telephone the local credit bureau or chamber of commerce to find out if there is one in your town.
If you still need help, go to your pastor or whoever your church has assigned the benevolence responsibility. Many churches support member families in times of financial crisis. If you do not have a church, check with the churches near you to find out what help is available.
Certainly it is difficult to see your savings and assets disappearing. What took so much effort to save seems to disappear so easily. It seems cruel and harsh. It’s hard to have that happen without being bitter. But you don’t have to become bitter. You don’t have to let it bother you. You can actually relax and enjoy living while it is happening!
As Christians, we have salvation. Our Savior lived with much less than we, in a culture with much less comfort. He did that to die that we may live. How can I complain, living today in a free country with the highest standard of living in the history of the world, living today with assurance of living forever because He gave His life for me? Keep this in perspective and bitterness will not sour your life.
2. Self-Esteem and Identity
Anyone who wants to work and cannot find work will lose some identity and self-esteem from the experience. Since men in particular tend to get their identity and much of their self-worth from their work, the loss of work can be a particularly devastating blow to them. The key to survival is to limit those losses. How you look at it makes the difference.
Should your work provide you with identity? Are you really worth more if you are employed? Though the answer to both questions is “No,” the fact is that men and many women do find identity and self-worth in their work. However, if that were God’s plan, many people would be worthless and without identity since many people are unable to work. So it’s clear that work is not the source of our identity or our value as persons. Then what, you may ask, should give us an identity and sense of worth?
Christian, you are a creation of the King of kings. That alone makes you worth more than all the riches of the earth. God let His son, Jesus; die for your sins because you are worth so much to Him. He even wants you as His child in Heaven. What could make you more valuable than that? In God’s eyes we all have an equal value, an infinite value, simply because He created us in His image. Our work does not change our value.
3. Order and Predictability of Life
Most of us like to have our life ordered. We like to know what’s next, what’s around the corner. We feel secure if we know what’s coming our way and how we are going to behave when it comes. We feel insecure if we do not. We worry, wondering if we will be able to handle life if it gets too far out of order. When you read the next paragraph you are either going to worry more than ever or find real rest for the first time!
There is no such thing as order and predictability of life. People who say there is have not looked at the depth of what’s happening around them. They are blind to the realities of life. Consider any 24-hour period. Go back to a day when you were happily employed and everything seemed normal. How much of that day was predictable? Not very much. There were lots of events that you had no idea were coming. You didn’t know the first words your coworkers would have for you. Nor the conversation at lunch. The stresses, strains, joys and sorrows you saw in people’s lives. The ones you experienced in yours. The opportunities you had to help people. The things you did that were wrong that you did not plan to do. Every day has been and will always be full of unpredictable events. Predictability of life is a figment of the imagination. When you are employed the only predictable aspect is the framework upon which these events hang the scheduled workday. Life itself is never predictable. You develop a false sense of self-provided security and self-determined order. In reality there is no security or order apart from that which is set by God. You are always dependent upon Him. Whatever order you have set He can interrupt, even discontinue at any time. When you are unemployed you have to face the reality of those truths. The order is gone; you will need something other than your own strength to get through the strains and stresses. It’s a time to renounce self-dependence forever and embrace your dependence upon God.
The stress of unemployment can be so great that you may even begin to wonder “What good is anything I ever shot for? What’s the purpose of shooting for anything?” You can start to drift in a sea of despair, losing any purpose in life. Losing direction.
If this happens it’s important to get back the perspective of the real purpose of life: to have a pleasing relationship with God. One that He is pleased with (and therefore one that will be fulfilling to you). The fact that you are unemployed should not hurt your relationship at all. Actually, since there are far fewer demands on your time, it is a time when you can improve the relationship. Read some books about the depths of God’s character and spend some extra time meditating on what you read. Spend some extra time in prayer. As you read and pray, consider your purpose in life. Perhaps you’ll find yourself losing your former purpose and finding a higher one. Perhaps you’ll find your old purpose fully adequate and be reinforced in it.
5. Contact with Friends
When you are unemployed, you will tend to lose contact with your friends. Since some of your friendships are probably related to your previous job, you will have to work at maintaining these relationships. Your natural contact and your common interests have dropped, perhaps precipitously. You may not even have enough left in common for the relationship to survive. Write down the names of former coworkers with whom you would like to maintain contact. Call them and make appointments to do things together so that you can raise your friendship to a new level, one that does not depend upon being together at work every day. Most of us end up with fewer friends at an organization after we have left it. You probably will, too. However, any relationship based on true friendship will continue after your departure if you continue to make contact.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT JOB
Employment is waiting for you somewhere. Even in bad economic times there are plenty of jobs. But, where do you start? Here’s an approach-that should send you off on the right foot!
1. Generate Ideas
Generate ideas by using a two-step process. Start by identifying occupations that fit your ideal job description, then list specific job titles or positions within each occupation. For example, after identifying teaching as a possible occupation, you might list public school teacher, private school teacher, seminar leader and corporate training coordinator as possible positions. Do this only after forgetting a few things.
First, forget about your areas of special information. If you know all about electricity, cement, tax laws, bank operations or secretarial duties, forget it! Your goal is a list of every job that might fit your ideal job description. If you mastered the information required to work in one field, you’ll be able to master the information required in another. Don’t limit yourself to your past.
Second, forget about the outlook for jobs in any occupation. My oldest brother has worked happily in the railroad industry for thirty years. When he graduated from MIT in 1959, airline
growth was accelerating and railroads were declining. If he had based his career choice on industry outlook he would have joined an airline and missed the industry that fit him best.
Third, forget the overall image you have of any industry or occupation. You may be right, but then you may be wrong. Generalities should never affect job decisions.
Fourth, forget about what the job pays. If the job fits there’s probably a way to make an adequate income in it. No matter what you think the average income is for a job, some people make twice as much doing the same work.
Fifth, never take a job to fulfill anyone else’s expectations. Forget about pleasing parents, brothers, sisters or friends. Your job must fit you, not them.
Now it’s time to develop some ideas on paper. Get alone in a quiet spot where you can write and not be disturbed. Take a pencil, lots of paper and your definition of the ideal job. Take a moment to tell God you need His guidance. Then list every job or occupation that comes to mind. Record every one. Let none escape. Don’t just sit and think; use your pen and paper. Ask yourself: “Based on all I have seen, heard and decided, what do I want to do? What can I do? What fits me?” Now go to it!
Soon you will run out of new ideas. When that happens get your friends and relatives together and try brainstorming. This activity provides an unrestrained environment in which everyone’s creative energies are released. It also provides a way of sharing far-out ideas. One of those ideas may be the best for you. What seems far-out today may seem natural and common in the future. Your future may be very different than anything you have ever planned or dreamed.
3. Sift Ideas
On a warm spring day in 1975, my wife and I went on an archeological dig on a bank of the Brazos River near Waco, Texas. We sifted lots of dirt searching for treasure Indian artifacts. We looked carefully at each object, saving the obvious “finds” for further investigation. Those items judged as worthless were put in a discard pile where they would be available for a second review after we had learned more. That’s a good process to use. Carefully sift through the list of ideas you’ve accumulated. Pick out the best ones for further investigation. Don’t discard any. You may want to give them a second look when you learn some more.
How do you pick the best arrowhead? Color? Size? Shape? Age? It depends on what you value most. It’s the same here. You decide what looks most interesting to you. Put that job at the top of your list. Then put the others in descending order of interest. After you investigate each of your top possibilities, you will know which one(s) to pursue.
4. Avoid Self-Elimination
Here’s a real mistake: eliminating yourself from the competition for a job. If you really want a job, never eliminate yourself. Consider yourself not only qualified, but also the logical candidate to get any job you really want. You are right for the position, because interest and desire are the major qualifications for any job. Other factors are usually secondary. Employers are looking for people who truly desire to work.
5. Research Ideas
The best way to get information on an occupation is by reading and then interviewing people in and related to the occupation. Begin your research by going to the library and reading all the material you can find about the occupations at the top of your list.
After you have exhausted the resources of your public library, see if you can get access to any government agency, college or university, or private business libraries.
You will probably find the most help in the resources listed below. They are carried by almost any public library.
-The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)
-The Occupational Outlook Handbook
-Occupational Outlook Quarterly
-CPC Annual (formerly the College Placement Annual)
HOW TO MAKE PEOPLE WANT TO HIRE YOU
No matter how well your skills match the jobs you apply for, your job hunt will be unnecessarily prolonged unless you possess certain desirable characteristics. These characteristics are basic, available to everyone who wants them. Set your will, ask the Lord to bring them into your life and enjoy the results.
The Key: Attitude
Attitude alone may qualify you. There are lots of people with the necessary education, experience and/or skills for every job. It’s rare to find people with the right attitude. Attitude often makes the difference between excellence and mediocrity.
Here’s a list of six characteristics employers are seeking. If an employer discovers that you have these attitudes, he will want to hire you.
1. Team Spirit
Every employing organization is a team. Even if there is just you and one other person, you are a team. To be a good team member you need to:
Accept the authority of your boss
Serve as an equal with coworkers
Respect the rights and needs of your subordinates
People with team spirit give credit rather than take it. Whenever Ewing Kaufman, president and founder of Marion Laboratories, has a chance to talk about his company, he talks about how his employees make the company what it is. He could talk about how he founded the organization, had the vision and put it into action. He doesn’t because he has team spirit. His spirit permeates the other employees, too. As a result, the company has many applications for every opening. Everyone is attracted to a place where people give credit rather than take it.
2. Solutions Orientation
Solving problems is the function of every employee in every company. If you are an assembly line worker in an auto plant, you are the solution to a problem such as, “How do we get the nuts onto the bolts?” Every assembly line worker runs into glitches. The nut or bolt has bad threads. The nut driver jams. The part to be attached is defective. Your reaction in these kinds of situations is a key to your productivity and to your value. The problem-oriented person gripes about any given dilemma. The solutions-oriented person observes the problem and looks for solutions. When he finds one he tells it to whomever has the authority to implement it. Solutions-oriented employees increase company sales and productivity and automatically find themselves on the road to advancement.
When you think about your job, visualize yourself as a solution to a problem. Define the problem and constantly seek to be a better solution.
Few things can disrupt the workplace more than an impatient person. Impatience puts everyone on edge, pushes people to make mistakes and takes the fun out of work. And whoever heard of someone being loved or praised or promoted because of his impatience?
Patience is the ability to bear trials calmly and without complaint. It is being steadfast despite adversity and/or opposition. The patient person does not have to apologize for words spoken in the’ heat of the moment. He finds the opportunity to do the right thing at the right time. The less-talented patient person often achieves more than the talented impatient person.
Good feelings develop when we know that those who are under our direction (at home, work or play) are content. Employers look for people who choose to be content because a positive attitude leads to higher productivity. A satisfied worker can be called upon for extra effort in times of special need. He will gladly receive praise when it is deserved. He will be supportive when his superior has down days. As a result, employers look for people who choose to be content.
What is the difference between an amateur and a professional, the average person and the expert? The professional works at developing a skill until he has achieved the best possible performance. He then works to maintain that level of proficiency. The amateur simply performs his skill, satisfied if a job is done even if it’s below par. The pro does his best even when he doesn’t feel like it. The amateur does just as he feels. A pro conducts himself as though his work were a profession. The pro understands that his work and his performance are every bit as important as the company president’s. He takes pride in his job, his workmanship and the products he produces. He realizes the importance of good performance. You can be an expert, not just a laborer. Experts find jobs quicker produce more with the same effort and go home more satisfied.
6. Positive Mental Attitude
Every employer wants happy employees. Happy people work harder, encourage others and build stronger companies.
Enthusiasm is the key. This is the feeling that comes from a positive mental attitude. It’s the result of right thinking, the emotional reaction to the mental attitude that comes when you choose to believe God. If you lack enthusiasm or have an apathetic or negative outlook on life, you need a change. Millions have experienced the change you are seeking, so rest assured you can experience it too. Let me suggest two ways it can happen to you.
First, set aside some time each day to read the Bible positively. Read it to find out what the Lord has promised you. After each verse ask: What did God promise me here? Then affirm God’s promise by saying: “OK, God, you said it. I believe it.” That alone can change your life.
Second, read positive thinking books. These books have been written because others have chosen to share how they have experienced what you are seeking.
HOW TO GET AN INTERVIEW
Jobs are found through interviews, not through resumes. If you follow the plan I’m going to outline you may get a job without ever presenting a resume.
The key is knowing yourself. And you must know where you fit (as well as where you do not fit). You also must know what employers are looking for and be willing to change where you need to.
Common Sources of Leads
Let’s take a closer look at this important topic–interviewing. Unless you have a bunch of people just waiting to see you (Wouldn’t we all like that!) you need leads to get some interviews.
There are seven common sources of leads: public employment services, private employment agencies, executive recruiters, school placement offices, the Civil Service, want ads and contacts. Contacts are almost always the best source.
Public Employment Services
Federal and state employment services have more job openings listed than any other source. With over 2,000 Job Service centers nationwide, the Job Service has had as many as 8 million job listings in one year. Since they are interconnected by computerized job banks, any one office can tell you about openings in any other city. Most of the jobs listed are for unskilled and semiskilled work paying under $15,000 a year.
Many fine employers list all their non-executive openings with the Job Service. All major federal government contractors must list all their openings (whether for a marketing vice president, Ph.D. engineer or a custodian) with the Job Service as part of their affirmative action plans. You might visit your local center to see what they have. Look in the telephone book under both the state and federal office listings. Their services are free.
Private Employment Agencies
Private employment agencies charge a fee for their services. In many cases the fee is paid by the employer. If you have to pay the fee, it should only be after the agency has placed you in a job. When you enter the agency you may have to sign an “agreement” or “application” before you get past the receptionist. This is actually a contract, so read it carefully before signing. If the contract gives the agency the exclusive right to find you a job, strike out that clause. It is unnecessary and too limiting for you. If the firm believes you have a chance of getting hired by one of their clients, they will recommend you.
Treat an employment agency as you would any other business. Check it out thoroughly before you do business with it.
Do not expect any special counseling from an employment agency. They depend on volume to survive. They are looking for immediately employable people who fit their client company’s needs. Also, be aware that they are successful with only about five percent of their clients.
While few of us will ever deal with an executive recruiter, they do place over 10,000 executives a year (generally in jobs between $30,000 and $80,000). Executive recruiters are unique in that they do not relish job hunters approaching them. They prefer to go out and find the people they have been hired to recruit. One firm claims to shred all the 40,000 unsolicited resumes it receives each year! Most firms keep from 5 percent to 20 percent of them. One keeps 50 percent. Forbes magazine suggests that you’ll get the best results by sending your resume to each firm’s director of research. For a listing of recruiters (and other helpful information) consult the Directory of Executive Recruiters (Templeton Road, Fitzwillian, NH 03447).
School Placement/ Career Planning Services
School placement office services vary from case to case. They can be an excellent source of leads for current and recent graduates. They know which companies like to hire graduates from their school and they know the current job market situation. Most college placement offices have little to offer someone who has been out of school for more than five years.
Former professors are often good sources for leads, especially in engineering professions. When you’re on campus make some visits to your professors. Be especially sure to visit those who peppered their lectures with current illustrations from local businesses. This is an indication that they are connected in the local jobs community.
The Civil Service handles civilian jobs in the U.S. Government, whether in Washington, D.C., elsewhere in the 50 states or overseas. You have to check with each government agency about its openings, qualifications and tests. Jobs are awarded on a merit basis heavily dependent upon test scores, but also influenced by experience and education (with priority going to veterans). If you think you are interested in an opening, take the test and get on the register.
Examinations are given in cities throughout the nation several times a year. Many schools and universities are used as testing sites for many entry-level professional positions. Your local library probably has guides to Civil Service jobs and books with sample examinations.
Fifty to 75 percent of all job hunters use the want ads. Want ads are cheap, easily obtained, offer a broad range of definite openings and appear to give information about local employment activity. They are generally the first place people look when they think about changing jobs.
Many people think that most jobs are obtained through these ads. Actually, want ads are not a very effective or efficient source of leads. Less than three percent (and sometimes less than one-tenth of one percent) of the inquirers get a response. Only 10 percent of those who use ads find employment in the same field through them. Their information is very limited, generally providing little other than the job title, with no mention of working conditions, job responsibilities or pay. They frequently exaggerate (especially when describing sales and “management” positions).
Many employers prefer to be sought out so they advertise only as a last resort. People who seek out a company show initiative and indicate an interest in the company. Employers see these applicants as more likely to be good employees and more likely to stay on the job. Other vacancies are never advertised because they are filled as soon as the position opens. An employee may have immediately recommended someone for the job. An employer would much rather hire a person recommended by a known employee than hire someone unknown “off the street.”
You can increase your chances of getting a response from a want ad by following several guidelines. Always respond with a cover letter and a resume. Leave out one or the other and you will probably be ignored. Answer the ad on the first day it is run. National publications (such as the Wall Street Journal) and large city newspapers (such as the New York Times) often draw over 1,000 responses. Even if there are only 25 responses, many advertisers will not read as carefully beyond the first three or four qualified applications. You need to get your letter in on the first day (which means that you need to read the classifieds every day).
Respond to every ad for every job that fits you. Answer even if you think you might be overqualified or underqualified. Your extra qualifications may be what the company really wants (many ads do not accurately reflect the needs of the company). If you appear under-qualified, you may not be. Many companies ask for much more than they really expect or need.
There’s a source of leads that everyone has, one that is the most important of all and one that is used more than any other: contacts. Line up 100 people and ask each one how he first heard about the job opening he filled. You’ll discover that most heard through someone they knew, a contact. That’s why you should major on contacts. You will probably find your next job through contacts. Contacts are managers, professionals and others you know who can assist you in your job search. Anyone who knows of job openings or who can help you “get in the door” is a contact (whether or not he has the power to hire). Some will be useful as information sources, some as references and some as potential employers. Your efforts in cultivating and maintaining contacts will be your hardest and your most rewarding work.
Starting a Contact File
Begin using contacts by establishing a file, a record system with information about each one of your contacts. Take paper and pencil and write down the names of every person you can remember. Start with your friends and relatives and then expand the list to include everyone. Include children you baby-sat (somebody’s parent may be the key to your next job) and people who baby-sat with you (they may have always liked you!). Start with your earliest childhood memories and think through each year of your life. I really mean it. Try not to leave out anybody. Consider the parents of all your high school friends. They are great contacts. You never know who will be the key to your next job.
Using Your Contacts
After you have made a good start on your contact file, begin contacting your contacts. Let them know your situation and let them know that you are currently gathering information to help you make a good job decision in the future. If a contact is likely to know some of what you are trying to learn, let him know what information you are seeking and ask if you can visit with him. If he does not have the information you need, ask him if he knows anyone who does. Then ask him if he’ll call that person to pave the way for you.
Ask each contact for advice. He may know about something that you have never considered. Your file will build quickly if you ask every contact, “What three people do you think are most important for me to see?” I’ve never had anyone turn me down for an interview when
I began by saying: “Mr. Jones recommended you as an important person for me to see. I would like to come and get your opinion about some of the thoughts I have regarding (subject).” It seems that everyone likes to give his thoughts and opinions, especially to people who ask for them.
While contacting people who can help, you will find yourself in many situations where you do not know what is going to happen next. All kinds of questions will enter your mind: Does he really want to help me? Did I say the wrong thing? Am I being presumptuous? Does this really make sense? Should I have ever called him? On occasion, if not daily, you will have bouts with fear.
There is no reason to be upset when you find yourself afraid. Everyone has times when they are afraid. God gave us fear as a warning. It carries a message: “Be careful.” “Be alert.” “This is important.” We all need to hear those messages on occasion; thus we all experience fear. It is a normal emotion.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10) means that anyone without fear cannot be wise. When you experience fear, listen to its message, look to God for wisdom and courage and move into action.
Creative Ways to Find a Job
Here are some creative ways to make contacts and get interviews. They should not be the main thrust of your job hunt, but most people will find one or more of them helpful.
1. Talk to People in Your Neighborhood: Do you know everyone on your street? Do you know where everyone works and what they do? Have you discussed your job hunt with the ones who make hiring decisions? These are some of the best contacts and potential contacts that you have. Visit one neighbor a day until everyone on your block knows your situation. If you know that your neighbor can help, think up a question to ask him that will lead him to talk about whatever it is that puts him in a position to help you.
2. Contact Small and New Companies: Most of the new jobs created during the coming year will be created by companies with less than 100 employees! There are about 600,000 new businesses incorporated every year! Yet job hunters continue to look first toward the big companies. Look where the competition is lighter and the field greener: in the small and new companies.
3. Contact Expanding Companies: When a company announces an expansion, consider whether the expansion may create an opening in your field. It if may, call whoever will be involved in that particular aspect of the expansion. If there are any rapidly growing companies in your community, make sure you establish at least one good executive contact in that company.
4. Contact Recently Promoted People: Contact those who have jobs similar to the one you want. Tell them that you hope someday to do the work they are doing and since they received such a nice promotion, you are hoping they will share with you some of the things they have done to achieve their success. Few people can turn down a chance to brag about themselves. These are the ones most likely to know or hear about openings that will interest you. There’s always the possibility that you can fill the vacancy created by someone’s promotion.
5. Offer to Work for Nothing: This will not work with big companies, but it can be an effective way to get hired in a small shop. If you have someone or some company you really want to work for, offer your services for nothing.
6. Do Volunteer Work for a Nonprofit Organization: Many nonprofit organizations have needs they have no way of meeting. If you can use your skills to meet a significant need, it might lead to a permanent job. The Red Cross, United Way and YMCA/ YWCA all have leading businessmen on their boards. You might have an opportunity to present your plans to the board before you start. While you are working on your project you might establish a valuable contact by drawing upon the skills or resources of one of the board members. As you work on the project you’ll think up ways to use it.
7. Consider Changes in Corporate Direction: In 1967 I was a securities analyst on Wall Street specializing in analysis of drug and hospital supply companies. I wanted to go to work for a drug company, but didn’t know any that needed my skills or experience. Then a possibility appeared. I noticed that Marion Laboratories had made a change in direction, augmenting its growth by acquiring companies. Previously all of Marion’s growth had come from internal expansion. I knew that if the company were to continue its growth by acquisition it would need someone to specialize in analyzing acquisition opportunities. That (I figured) was for me. I called the company’s president and asked if I could meet with him to discuss some ideas that I had. That resulted in my joining Marion and having three exciting years of work that fit me to a “t.”
I suggest that you read general business periodicals such as Forbes, Fortune and Sales & Marketing Management to learn of the changes taking place in the business world. You may even come across an opportunity similar to the one I had.
HOW TO INTERVIEW FOR A JOB
While there will be some differences from interview to interview, the goals are always the same. You are seeking to understand the job opportunity. The employer is seeking to understand you. You both want to determine if your skills, desires and goals match the job. You want to get hired if the job fits; he wants to hire you if you fit the job. If you reach the point where you understand each other and agree that you fit both the company and the job, you have a good chance of landing the job.
Job hunters think of success as finding a job. It is not. You can walk into a job interview, develop a wonderful relationship with the employer, walk out with a job at 50 percent more pay than expected and have failed miserably! Success comes when you land a job that fits your skills and desires. Success comes when you fully understand the employer’s expectations and are able to use your skills to meet those expectations. Success comes when your employer’s desires are your desires. When you accept a job with that kind of understanding you can be confident that your work will be not only enjoyable, but approved by whoever supervises you. That’s what we want as employees–approval as well as enjoyment.
The work we have done up to this point has been focused on helping us find a job that will be enjoyable. The job interview adds two new dimensions: understanding and approval.
The Job Proposal (Getting an Interview)
First you must get a job interview appointment with the company(ies) you would like to work for. Also, you must have an understanding of the potential employer’s industry and company and be aware of his department’s successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses. You should consider how your strengths fit the work and how your weaknesses can be viewed as strengths. With this in mind, (1) list the reasons you would like the position you have targeted and (2) write down how your skills and knowledge can solve the employer problems. Before you contact your target become so familiar with this skills/ problems match that you are absolutely convinced that you are the solution to his problems.
Convictions play an important role in all dialogue. If you have a strong belief that you can contribute, you will subconsciously communicate that during your conversation. If you really aren’t sure, the employer may subconsciously pick that up. Your convictions and/or doubts may only be picked up as gut feelings, but even that is significant (as many executives make their decisions by gut feeling as well as by mental judgment). So don’t make contact until you are confident that you can do what you propose to do. Don’t try to fake it.
Now (here comes the hard part) it’s time to pick up the telephone, call the person you want to work for and get a job interview. You might do it by telling him what you just wrote down: why you would like to work for him and how your skills can be applied to solve his problems. It can be that simple. I have done it just that way and landed a wonderful job when the company was not looking to hire anyone for the work I proposed to do.
Surviving the Interview
In a job interview you must be prepared to answer questions. When the interviewer asks a question, look behind it before you answer. Ask yourself a few things about the question: “Is it really a subtle statement of facts believed by the interrogator? Why was it asked? Why now? Do I need more facts to provide an adequate answer? Is there a choice of answers? Will my answer be unique? How will my answer affect the interviewer as a person, as an employer and as an employee?” Think before you answer.
Quick answers are not necessary. Actually, quick answers can be unwise. The Book of Proverbs warns us about hasty words: “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20). That’s why James warns us, “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak . . .” (James 1:19). Often times when people ask a question they don’t express their real intent. They need to restate the question to get at their point. So when you are asked a question, give the other person a chance to explain or expand upon his question. A moment of silence may be best. Give everyone an opportunity to think. When he sees you thinking he may rephrase the question. His restatement might even point toward the answer he is seeking. Your reserved manner may save you a lot of embarrassment.
You don’t have to answer every question! Chances are that you will be asked at least one question for which you won’t have an answer.
Most of us have a hard time saying, “I don’t know.” We’re more inclined to give it our best shot. When we feel our answers are inadequate we’re inclined to exaggerate, give the impression of having more knowledge (or experience) than we really do. This is not nearly as effective as giving no answer.
Interviewers want to learn the limits of each job candidate’s knowledge. They are likely to keep asking questions until the limits become apparent. If you get away with one bluff you will probably find yourself in a situation where you will need a greater bluff. If you admit your limits you have the opportunity to demonstrate your honesty, resourcefulness and desire to learn by saying, “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you with an answer.” Remember, in the final analysis, you will probably be hired because of your character, not because of your knowledge. There are lots of people with your knowledge. So choose to excel in character by being honest, forthright and resourceful.
Admitting the limits of your knowledge will also put your interviewer at ease. He will relax as he senses the real you. At ease and comfortable, he may begin a meaningful dialogue with you that builds into that special rapport that gets you the job.
Honesty is also a way of demonstrating to God your willingness to trust Him to provide for you just as you are. It is an affirmation of your belief that what He has created and done in your life is adequate for your needs. If you lie (by giving a false impression of your knowledge) you are saying: “God, I can work this out better alone.” And be sure, if that is your attitude, you will have to work it out on your own. God is holy and will not have fellowship with sin. You will not even be able to pray for guidance because “If (you) regard wickedness in (your) heart, the Lord will not hear (you)”(Psalms 66:18).
Employers’ Job Interviewing Techniques
There are three basic employer interview techniques: direct, indirect and stress. I use the direct approach, directly addressing the things I want to discuss by asking questions about them this makes my goals clear and gives the applicant a chance to state his case. Some employers prefer the indirect approach, thinking that the applicant will not be able to deceive them because he will not be able to discern exactly what the interviewer is looking for. The indirect interviewer is likely to let the interview ramble from subject to subject with no apparent order. Sometimes indirect interviewers may ask questions that seem really far out: “Which color do you prefer: red or purple? Why?” “When you are late for a meeting do you sit in the front or back?” Questions such as these are designed to provide insight into your attitudes and thinking processes. When you encounter this type of interviewer, try to answer the questions in a way that will reveal your skills, desires and goals. You can try to break through the fog by asking something like: “What exactly are you looking for?” If you are unable to get the interviewer to deal more directly just answer each question as well as you can, being sure to limit the answer to the questions asked.
A small minority of employers prefer the stress interview. They will ask you questions designed to put you on the spot, even intimidate and perhaps unnerve you. They believe that such aggressive interviewing provides deeper insight into the real make-up of the employee and gives a better indication of how you will behave when you’re actually carrying the responsibilities of the job. Prepare for this kind of interview by (1) considering all your strengths, weaknesses and failures and (2) preparing to talk about them. Ask your family and friends to be tough on you in some practice interviews. Be a scout “Be prepared.” Then, answer the questions to the best of your ability, leaving the interviewer’s interpretation of your answer up to God. Do not try to control anyone’s mind. Simply provide truth. If that won’t get you the job, forget it. You won’t want it.
Tardiness is one thing that can ruin anyone’s chances of a good interview. An October 1983 survey of personnel executives by Robert Half International, Inc. (a leading franchiser of personnel agencies) confirmed that being late for a job interview can ruin your chances of getting a job offer. Sixty-seven percent of the executives said being 15 minutes late would have an over whelming negative impact, 26 percent felt it would substantially lower the candidate’s possibility of getting hired. Plan the hours before your interview so that nothing will cause you to be late.
If your interview has been set up specifically as a job interview you may be asked to fill out some forms before the interview starts. The higher the position being sought and the more advanced the interviewing executive, the less chance of this happening. It is a common occurrence if you are meeting with someone in the personnel department. Take along two good pens (ones that don’t glob), a copy of your resume and a piece of paper with pertinent information such as your social security and driver’s license numbers. Take some scratch paper in case you want to do some figuring or arranging of your thoughts. Don’t write on the company form until you know what you want to write. Answer all the questions on the form(s).
The job interview is a selling situation. It may be one-sided–you trying to sell an employer; or it may be two-sided–both of you trying to sell each other. In either case, be sure that adequate and accurate information is exchanged so that both of you will make a wise decision.
The employer may plan to lead out and direct the interview right from the start. If he does, follow his lead, looking for opportunities to present ways in which your skills can be used to meet the company’s needs. On the other hand, since you proposed the meeting, he may expect you to lead out. Indeed, if you are seeking an executive position, your ability to lead may be a key factor in his hiring decision. Let’s assume it is up to you to lead.
Start by outlining your understanding of the department’s or company’s needs. Tell how you can meet these needs or lead the company in a program that will meet them. Move on to discussing the benefits of having the needs met. Conclude by outlining an action plan that revolves around hiring you.
When you finish your proposal, ask the employer a question that leads him into discussing your ideas in a positive manner. “Which of my ideas do you feel would bring the most benefit to the company?” “Which of these needs do you feel is most important?” “Why?” “If I were to work on only one of these projects, which one would you choose?” “Why?” “If I were to do this how would you suggest that I start?” Do not ask any dead-end questions (“Do you agree with me?”) or ones that open negative possibilities (“What do you think of my ideas?”).
As you get into a discussion you will discover whether or not you are on the right track and whether or not you were right in choosing the company as your primary target.
More on Interviewing
Typed Outline: During job interviews you are not in sole control and cannot work your way through a set of questions. You will be spending as much time answering questions as asking them and you will be discussing responsibilities on a more personal level. However, I suggest that you type a proposal and question sheet ahead of time so that you have all your thoughts organized. You can refer to this sheet when you make your proposal and when the conversation moves from subject to subject. When you feel that you are getting close to the end of the interview you can say, “Let me review my notes for a minute to see if there is anything that I want to be sure to cover that we have not covered.” It’s easier to remain confident when you have all the information you need and it shows the employer that you are well disciplined and organized.
Honesty: Be sure to answer all questions honestly. You may find yourself inclined to hedge or bluff on occasion. You don’t need to. If the job is right, the Lord will see that you get it without being dishonest or deceitful.
Praising Others: In the tedious humdrum of interviewing, employers are overwhelmed with “I,” “I,” “I.” Everyone who comes in is anxious to tell them about their accomplishments, real or imagined. Frankly, it begins to sound like a bunch of malarkey by the end of the day. You begin to wonder if you can believe any of it!
What a joy when someone comes in and spends his time speaking about all the wonderful employees he has had: how they taught him, helped him and tolerated his peculiarities. What a refreshing change to hear someone say that his coworkers are the best, that those under his supervision make him look good and that those over him provide inspiring direction. You can be that refreshing breath of air. Give credit as often as you take credit. Go one step further and give more than you take. Remember the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give . . . .” Employers need team people. Prima donnas cause problems. You may be as fantastic as you say, but most employers will pass over a self-proclaiming wonder in favor of a less skilled praise-giver. If someone senses that you will make him or those under him look better (by generous praise), he will want to hire you. He won’t if he sees you as someone who wants all the credit.
Focus on Agreement: Help your meeting have a feeling of agreement by asking questions that lead to a “Yes” answer. As you work through your initial proposal stop occasionally to ask a question which leads naturally to “Yes.” This moves the interviewer into a feeling that “I agree with what he is saying.”
Focus on the Employer: Remember that the focus of your meeting needs to be on the employer and his needs not your needs. Your informational interviewing should have already determined that your needs will be met if you meet the employer’s needs. If you get a job offer you can spend some time discussing your specific needs.
Discussing salary can be the most exciting part of your interview! If you have done a good job up to this point, there’s every reason to believe you will make at least as much as you hoped for. You might make substantially more.
When the employer feels he has enough information to intelligently discuss compensation, he’ll bring it up. It’s best to wait for him to approach the subject. When it’s time to talk money, here’s how to pick a starting number.
First, you must know the reasonable range for the job. Then, consider the company (whether it is a high, normal or low payer), the location and your skill level. Write down a range that you feel fits. Your high figure should be about 15 percent above your bottom figure. Quote your interviewer a range about five percent below to five percent above your top figure. For example, if you expect $10,000-$12,000, ask for $11,400$13,800. If you want $25,000-$29,000, ask for $27,500-$32,500.
WHEN YOU RECEIVE AN OFFER
Few things in life are more exciting than receiving a job offer. I wish we could all experience that joy of being wanted every day. Rejoice when you get an offer. Above all things rejoice. Someone has said, “I approve of you. I want to be associated with you. I believe you are valuable. I’ll risk my reputation on you.” It’s a wonderful moment. Enjoy it to its fullest. The odds are that you will accept the offer. You have carefully planned your hunt and have been rewarded with what you’ve been seeking. The following counsel is intended to help you make sure you have received the offer you wanted and to ensure that your job will be long lasting. I’m going to assume you received the offer in person. If not, you can adapt what I suggest.
Understanding Your Offer
First, structure the job. Identical titles do not mean identical jobs. If someone says, “We want you to join us as vice president of marketing” you should say, “Let’s list exactly what you have in mind. What would my responsibilities be? Who will I report to?” If you are at the other end of the scale and are offered a job as an apprentice plumber, you still need the same basic information: “What will I be doing? Who will I work with? What do you expect from me?” You might verbally walk through the day with the hirer. When the employer finishes, if you see a way the job could be structured to fit you better, gently mention it. “What do you think about . . .?” Don’t be inflexible, just suggest your idea and see what reaction you get. Very few jobs are perfect.
Close the job description-oriented conversation by asking some questions that will give you a feeling for the employer’s real view of the work you will be doing. Find out what really is going to count. You might ask him, “What three factors will be most important when you judge my performance?” Which of those will carry the most weight?” Find out if what’s most important to the boss is most important to you.
If someone other than the person you have been negotiating with is going to be your supervisor, ask if you can meet with him. Review your understanding of the job with the supervisor and try to get a feel for the chemistry that might develop between the two of you. If you have any doubts, try to have lunch with him or spend an hour with him on the job. If you’re considering a position where you will have several coworkers doing the same thing, see if you can arrange to have lunch with some of the people you will be working with. I know .that this is an uncommon practice, but a lot of mistakes could be avoided if everyone did it.
Job hunters tend to be squeamish about asking about fringe benefits. After you are sure you know what the job is, go over the total compensation package. Do not be afraid to ask about insurance, vacations and so on. These are important items. That’s why companies offer them. Your questions, asked in the right tone, give respect to the hours of planning your potential employer has put into arranging his benefit program. Acting as though these items are unimportant is to slight someone’s work.
If you have any doubts about anything, now is the time to ask. Will you have a desk of your own? An office? A secretary? Will uniforms, tools, protective gear and so on be supplied? Will your work be reviewed semiannually or just annually? Will you receive inflation adjustments and merit increases? Do you know the hours? (Would you believe I left the bank and went to a manufacturing company and was there for three days before I discovered the company began work at 8:00! I was arriving at 9:00 and would have done so for even longer if my boss bad not asked me, “Have you ever noticed that everyone is here before you are?”) If you are wondering, ask.
Junior executives and executive job offers should be written out so that there is a clear understanding of what is being offered. It’s preferable that all job offers be written out. However, that would be so unusual for some positions that such a request could be totally impractical. You will have to be the judge. Whatever you do, be sure that you clearly understand what position is being offered.
Making a Decision
After you know what you have been offered, ask if you can have a few days to make a decision. Say, “I really would like to take the job and I do appreciate the offer; but I feel it’s too important a decision to make so quickly. Could I call you in three days and let you know?” Almost any employer will give you some time to make the decision. Alternatively, you could ask: “Will you please write out the offer and send it to me in a letter? I’ll get back to you within three days of receiving your letter.” You will have to decide how to ask, but be sure to ask for some time to think it over.
Now you must decide. This is your last chance to avoid making a mistake. You’re under pressure. It’s like the first offer you get when you put your house up for sale. You wonder, “Will I get another if I turn this one down?” You have to decide. How? Two ways: First, admit it if the job just doesn’t fit. Don’t force it, trying to make it something it is not. Recognize the error or problem, turn it down and trust the Lord to meet your needs elsewhere.
Second, put your decision before the Lord: “God, You know all the work I have done to understand what fits me. You, too, know that I am inadequate; unable to discern and understand all there is to know about what I am getting into. I ask You to put me on edge, keep me from peace, disturb my spirit to the point that I will know that I am making a mistake if there is something wrong with taking this job. On the other hand, I also ask You to give me a deep sense of peace and well-being if there is nothing wrong with taking this job.”
The Lord will honor this prayer. A sense of peace doesn’t mean that you will be super successful and eternally happy in your new job. The Lord may have some difficult lessons to teach you in your new position. There may be lots of pain and sorrow. But, if the job sours and you had put it before the Lord before you took it, you will be free from concern about whether the Lord is chastising you for taking a job against His will. You will also be more likely to stay, understanding that the Lord is working through your job to build your character.
If you decide to accept the job, call the employer, rejoice with him and work out the transition. Remember to be kind to your current employer. Two weeks’ notice is normal, but there can be exceptions. I have accepted new jobs and stayed on as long as six weeks at the old job to help my employer work out a smooth transition of my responsibilities.
Sad to say, it happens to us all. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. And take it for what it is: just a “No.” Nothing else, nothing more. Who knows why? All kinds of reasons are offered. “You’re overqualified.” “We just don’t need anyone.” “If you had come in last week I would have hired you, but I just hired someone else.” “We really could use someone like you, but we just don’t have time to work you into our organization.” I think I’ve heard them all. Frankly, I don’t think most of the reasons mean anything other than “I don’t want to hire you now.” No matter what you hear, that’s the message. Leave it at that. Don’t try to read any more into it. A decision was made: “I don’t want to hire you.” Let it be. Smile; tell the interviewer that you appreciate the time he has given you. Let him know that you respect his judgment and hope that some time in the future you will be able to do business together. If you were applying for the kind of job where openings appear with any regularity, ask if you may call him once a month to check his current situation_ Persistence pays. Ask him if he knows anyone whom he feels might be interested in hiring you for the kind of work you suggested doing for_ him.
HOW TO GET STARTED IN A NEW JOB
It’s wonderful to have a new job. Everything is new: your coworkers, supervisor; subordinates and your place of work. What’s even better, you get to start with a clean slate.
Everyone will be watching you when you begin your job. The new people in your life will want to know what they can expect from you and what to think of you. They’ll draw conclusions rather quickly, and they’ll probably base them on only a few simple observations. Here are some ways to help them quickly adopt a positive attitude toward you:
-Communicate clearly with coworkers
-Spend full time at your new job
-Do your best
-Put others first
Do your best at your new job regardless of what others are doing. If your best is not as good as someone else’s, see if you can learn to do better. Ask the other person to help you learn. If you are not as talented as he, be satisfied working at full capacity and seek to excel in attitude. On the other hand, if your best is better than others do not flaunt it. Just quietly continue to work hard.
Certainly, as you have worked your way through this booklet, you have made some discoveries about yourself. Hopefully you have made some decisions about your attitudes, behavior and priorities.
I hope you use this material as a map for your journey to a new job. However, this “map” will not hold you together as you deal with depression, worry, sadness, disappointment and all the other emotional battles you face. Only Christ can do that.
Choose to depend upon Him. When your next move is not clear, pray: “Teach me thy way, 0 Lord, and lead me in a plain path . .” (Psalms 27:11). When all appears dark, call into the darkness, “Thou art my lamp, 0 Lord . . .,” believing “. . the Lord illumines my darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29). God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go” (Psalms 32:8).
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”
From, “Focus on the Family”/P.O. Box 500 Arcadia, CA 91006, by Rodney S. Laughlin
This material is copyrighted and may be used to study & research purposes only