Let’s face it: The demands of life require money. You, reader, are in need of a job or are looking forward to a future career. Where do you start? Considering approximately one-third of your life will be spent at work, a good beginning is to think through how you want to spend your valuable time. Know what you enjoy. Consider the following approach when beginning a job search:
Take an inventory of your interests. Focus your job search on positions that are good matches for what you are naturally curious about.
Identify your natural or learned abilities and the areas you might want to improve. Think about the abilities you currently have, which jobs your current skill set might best be suited for, and what adjustments you might want to make to better prepare for the type of job you want. Begin to think about how you might market your skills to a potential employer.
Get a good sense of how you are perceived by others. You can emphasize your strengths, improve and minimize your weaknesses, and take control of your image.
Recognize your job-related values. Focus your efforts on finding a good career match on the things you find most important. If you value freedom over security you might prefer self-employment over working for a single-location company run by others. If you value a good work-life balance, you will likely prefer a job that does not require long overtime hours or a lot of travel. If you value a high salary and fast career advancement, you will probably find more satisfaction at a large corporation instead of a small non-profit organization.
Know who is in your personal network. Most job seekers get hired through a personal connection. The relationships may be casual, familial, professional, or intimate.
Expand your network. Just like any other skill, becoming a good networker requires a lot of practice. In your daily life, many occasions to network will present themselves. You need to identify and act on them. Seek opportunities to meet others via organized clubs, professional organizations, student groups, local committees, volunteering, and while simply out and about.
Maintain your network. Keep in touch on a regular basis so your contacts remember you. This can be done by regularly communicating with them about what is going on in their lives with an appropriate level of curiosity and enthusiasm.
Prepare a functional and current working portfolio—a collection of materials that are representative of work you have done, whether paid, volunteer, full-time, or part-time. When presented in a professional manner, a portfolio can be used in a variety of ways: as a central element of the sales pitch you use when applying for a job; as supporting documentation during a job interview; and as a showcase of relevant work for a member in your professional network.
The Job Seeker’s Toolkit
This article is based on the APH Job Seeker’s Toolkit, a free, self-paced, comprehensive, and accessible guide to the employment process.
This article and The Job Seeker’s Toolkit are based on the 2nd edition of The Transition Tote System, by Karen Wolffe and Debbie Johnson (1997, American Printing House for the Blind).