Getting a job
by Duane Ausherman
My very short history. I have no college degree. I was lucky to arrive at financial independence at age 33. I love to work, so full retirement was out of the question. I got calls to assist on one project after another. Eventually, I realized that I was now a consultant or contract worker. I love contracting so much that I would never have taken a single job had I known way back in high school about the world of contracting.
For the past 20 years, I have almost never looked for work. The phone rings and someone is asking if I am available. A job may last a day, a few weeks or a couple of years. This gives me the freedom for me to take off for months or years, to do something personal.
I work under three conditions.
- The job must offer something new so that I can learn.
- Secondly, it must pay me 2-3 times what I am worth. That way I am able to work half time and get full pay.
- Thirdly, they must promise to fire me at the end. I am not looking for a real job, only temporary work. Actually, the second one is partially a joke. I have been so interested in a job that I will work for little or nothing. I can afford it. That is freedom. About three calls come in for every job I take. I reject the other two. Finding work is a job in itself. If you want a 40 hour a week job, then spend 40 hours, or more a week going after it. If you can’t do that, then you won’t likely succeed in the job anyway. By far the best thing to do is use your network for getting the inside track on jobs that might come open. However, if that fails, then here is another approach. I suggest doing both at the same time. What do young inexperienced applicants do? They go into a place of business and ask for an application. They spend 30 minutes filling it out and handing it over. That was the first chance for the applicant to make an impression and it didn’t happen. First, prepare an “ employment package” rather than doing what everyone else does, asking for the application. The package should contain these 4 items.1. Application
3. Cover letter
4. Business card
Go to an office store and purchase a generic application. Or, go online and download an application. Use the type that can be filled out before you print it out. Or, make copies and fill one out longhand, but this won’t be as impressive. Hold on, you are thinking that a boss will want their “official” application filled out, not some cheap thing from the office store, or the Internet. This is your first chance to stand out. Just say, “Sir, I will be very happy to fill out your application when we arrive at an agreement.” Nobody ever told a potential boss that. This shows confidence.
Get your drafts edited by a few people who know about hiring. Find someone capable of writing in English and correcting your grammar and punctuation. I first use Grammarly, it is a free download.
You may wish to have different applications for different types of businesses. Once you are happy with a version, make copies to hand out.
Here is your chance to tell about yourself. If your work history is short, then don’t even try to present it in chronological order. Present your skills with examples of work in community groups, interests and hobbies.
The resume is probably the most important item in this package. Do not engage in fiction writing. Tell us about yourself and make it interesting.
Have as many people as possible proofread your drafts. Use a good friend who has known you forever to see if he/she can offer up another perspective. Maybe you have a trait that others appreciate and you discount it totally. Include it.
At the end of my resume, I always include a list of hobbies. One, in particular, has many times been brought up by the interviewer and helped make a connection.
3. Cover letter
At the entry level job, you probably wish to commute as short of a distance as possible. Make a list of possible employers that are nearby your home.
Here you must make some decisions. The first places that you should apply are those that will teach you skills that are going to be useful in later life. Yes, the money is important, but more important are the skills you will attain.
List the employers in order of desirability. Write a short letter of one or two paragraphs of what you can offer that firm. This letter must convince the boss that you are of value.
4. Business card
Buy a package of business card blanks. I use Avery Matte Ivory 27883, or Matte White Avery 28371 from Walmart. A package is under $5 and contains ten sheets and each sheet is ten cards. This allows you to make up a large variety of cards and change them as needed. Always test your procedure of printing the cards on plain paper first. Don’t ask how I learned this:-)
They won’t look professional, don’t worry. Unless you are applying for a job as a graphic artist, it doesn’t matter. The main thing is to communicate. Don’t use a fancy font; use a common one. Use large font, don’t make the reader go looking for glasses to read your card. Keep it simple. Avoid the cluttered look.
If you belong to a professional organization, use the logo on the card.
I use Word for my template, but there may be better ones out there.
Lastly, it is vital to get a logbook. It not only serves to remind you, but it will impress others by showing that you are organized.
Put your first 5-10 choices for employment in the logbook. Put only 2-3 per page, as you may be adding a lot of notes after your visits.
You have the packages made up for each employer. You are finally ready for your first assault. You must dress appropriately. I am shocked at how many applicants dress so poorly that they have no chance. Start early in the morning, preferably shortly after they open.
Ask for the manager. Present your package and express that you hope that he/she has a chance to look it over. You may hear, “We aren’t hiring now.” and that is another opportunity for you to extend your network. Just say, “You may see that my skills apply to an employer that you know, so please feel free to share my application.” Nobody talks like this, so this alone allows you to stand out.
If the manager doesn’t too seem hurried, then ask about the business climate in that area. This can turn into a type of interview on the spot. Have a relevant question ready that will inform you and show your interest. Ex. “Do you see this service business expanding, or contracting with this economy?” Your question must show concern, intelligence, and the ability to express yourself. You are not afraid.
Ask, “What do you need?” and you may be surprised at the answer. Just hope for a candid answer, and that shows you that you have found an open person, but more importantly, a manager who already respects you.
Every business needs something, and maybe you can provide it. If not, maybe you know the person or firm that can help.
Tell the manager that you will be back in a week to see if he/she has had a chance to peruse your package. Ask for a business card. Enter the date/time in your logbook. Write in the results. It could be “forget” or “come back later to see the manager” or whatever you will need to use later as you go through the log. Return in precisely the time promised, within minutes. You have shown that your word is good and that you are punctual.
Email a very short “thank you” that same day.
No other applicant will have done anything like this. No employer will have ever seen anything like this.
updated 17 Sept 2019