22 October 2012
Having trouble finding a full-time, permanent job? If so, don’t overlook the importance of taking a temporary or contractual position. You are not alone. In fact, an estimated one-third of U.S. workers – more than 42 million men and women – are employed in temporary positions. This number is expected to grow in the near future. According to a recent report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, temporary employment for the month of September was up 8.2% from last year. The Bureau also found the demand for temporary employees has added an average of 20,000 jobs to the economy per month. Employers may prefer temporary employees for a variety of reasons. These motives may range from the fact they are recovering from a financial downturn to their desire to evaluate a temporary candidate’s skills before making a permanent hiring decision. If you are a temporary employee and decide you want to pursue a permanent role within the organization, you have many opportunities to leave strong, lasting impressions that may launch you into a long-term career. Here are some ways you can turn temporary or contractual gigs into full-time opportunities: Impress the right people – Plan on meeting the decision makers early into your tenure. By getting on their radar, you can demonstrate the skills and experience you have to offer. It’s important to show your supervisors that you are a professional who is dedicated to fulfilling your duties. Get to know everyone – Make sure you make connections with coworkers, clients, and other people you interact with. The more you reach out to others at work, the more likely they are to remember you. Remember that each connection you make may lead to another opportunity. Go beyond the job description – Showcase your work ethic, positive attitude, and commitment to the organization by doing a little extra. Supervisors will be more willing to bring you on board permanently if they see you are willing to help out. Stay connected – The relationships you made on the job don’t need to end when your contract expires. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn make it easy to keep in touch and check up on everyone’s current endeavors. If you made the right impression and keep in contact with your connections, they will be more likely to think of you when a new opportunity arises. Not only do temporary roles help you gain a lot of new and diverse experiences and skills in a relatively short amount of time, they can give you the opportunity to decide whether or not you feel the company and work environment are the right fit for you. You can evaluate the organization, just as much as they evaluate you!
17 October 2012
One of the most nerve-wracking parts of a job hunt is the endless writing of cover letters. You may be tempted to just write one and send it everywhere, but that would be wasting a valuable opportunity to showcase your skills and sell yourself to a potential employer. By tailoring your cover letter for each new job, you can show why this particular job excites you, and, more importantly, why you are the perfect fit for this job. Explain why you chose to apply for this job with this company. Do they have a social outreach program that appeals to you? Do you admire and identify with their mission statement? Combining your enthusiasm for the company with how your credentials can benefit them makes you more appealing to the person reading your cover letter. Tailoring your cover letter can be especially important if you have a less marketable major like English, or Philosophy. By highlighting the transferable skills you’ve learned, such as the communication skills you honed by arguing your point in papers, or your ability to use reason and logic to weigh risks and benefits of a problem, and applying those skills to real life situations, you can make your more abstract major a plus rather than a minus. Most importantly, make sure you have someone else read over your cover letter, or go over it yourself with a close eye. There’s nothing worse than a cover letter addressed to the wrong company or one that has appalling grammar. Keeping these things in mind is a great way to boost your chances of getting that much-desired response.
15 October 2012
Networking can be stressful, especially when you’re setting up informational interviews with people who have your dream job. It’s tempting to view an informational interview as a chance to ask for a job, but your contact will be more likely to think about you should a job opening arise, if you ask thoughtful and insightful questions, are really interested in your contact’s experiences, and keep in touch after your meeting. Just like a job interview, you want to come prepared; do some research on your contact’s company. Have they been in the news lately? Are they doing something particularly innovative? Come prepared with questions that showcase your awareness of industry news, but also your desire to learn more. Ask how they got to where they are today; did they need a specific degree? Do they recommend going to grad school or getting a certain certification? Ask what they like about the job and what they wish they could change. Whoever you’re talking to probably wants to share all this information with you, so you just have to ask. It’s important not to drop the ball after your initial meeting. It may feel awkward to email them again in a few weeks just to check back in, even if it’s a short comment about how you’ve recently graduated and have moved to the area, or you’re asking their opinion about a recent article, but it’s worth it. If you make the effort first, they’re more likely to respond and remember you in the future. Just keep in mind that you’re building a network of connections and relationships, and any good relationship is a two-way street. For more information, consider Arnie Fertig’s article on the informational interview from U.S. News and World Report.