How To Get A Job
Don’t just go asking for a job—sell yourself. To do that you must first know your product—You
I LIKE to toll job seekers that there are 20,000 jobs in which people in Canada and in the United States can earn their living, according to the United States Census of Occupations. Their qualifications, their experience, and their natural bent, may even fit them to more than one kind of job.
I have personally interviewed more than 38,000 people in search of jobs over the last 20 years. If you were seated opposite me in my office now, and wanted to know how to get a job which would bring you a good income and satisfaction, I could give you no better advice than to tell you to follow a few
simple sle|>H which have worked successfully for thousands of others.
You cannot trust to luck that you will just strike a job. You have to organize your campaign like a good salesman organizes his campaign. You must expect to go out selling, not just asking. You must go out to sell a definite product: your abilities and services.
You have to plan your job-seeking campaign. You must follow up every possible lead to a job of the kind you are capable of filling. You have to regard your job-getting as a job, and a mighty important job.
There’s no one sure rule for getting a job, of course. The freak approach sometimes turns the trick. I know of a girl who had been told again and again to come back for an audition for a small part on a radio program. From among 50 applicants, all probably on the same level of singing ability and all having little experience, she got the job. How? Well, she left the reception room bench long enough to send a telegram to the program director. “I’m still sitting outside waiting for that audition you promised me,” it read.
She was called in immediately, the director introduced her around as the author of the wire which had made them all laugh, and she was inside instead of being outside.
A new graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology had a good chance for a job with an engineering firm. All went, well until the employment manager told him he had a rule against, hiring college men. The manager believed, he said, in acquiring technical knowledge by experience. The boy didn’t argue. He said, “I have a younger brother who didn’t go to college. He’s mechanical and wants a job. I can get him right down here.” He did, and the brother got the job.
A boy. who was good at figures and had studied elementary bookkeeping, wanted to work in the office of one of the factories near his home. Had he got the job, he might have stuck there the rest of his life. By questioning, I found that the boy had organized a couple of clubs in school, and had been cited for his teamwork. I suggested that he apply to some insurance companies. The boy had
never thought of insurance as a career, but. today he is earning a fine living. His mathematical ability and his knack with people have full play.
“Restored My Confidence”
COME TO some decision as to what you are best qualified to do. In other words, what is the product you are going to sell? What services are you best capable of rendering? These services become your product, which means that you have to start out with an inventory of yourself.
This advice holds true especially for the young man or woman just coming out of school or college. Recently I talked with a girl who wanted to be an airline hostess. Did she know there are height and weight requirements? Yes, she had heard about them, but was vague about specific figures.
In taking an inventory of yourself and your capabilities, be honest with yourself. Consider your natural likes and dislikes because you are most likely to succeed at a job that you like. Do not get the idea that there is only one job in the world that each one of us can do.
On the basis of your self-inventory you should prepare a record of your qualifications and experience. This record should list jobs you’ve had, education, your interests, your hobbies, and all the things which have any bearing on the kind of work you could do well. It is important to crystallize your thinking on this subject of “What am I best qualified to do?” to the point of actually writing it down, looking it over, and seeing what it. looks like.
One older man, who had recently had two unsuccessful job experiences, told me: “Writing up such an experience record, or short autobiography, has restored my confidence. I discovered that I haven’t always been a failure. I remember how I gave up a job of my own accord, to enter war work, and how my war job folded up when contracts expired. The only undertaking in which I had not been successful, actually, was after the war, when I went into business for myself, without careful enough preparation.”
After determining what you are going to sell, next determine, “Where can I discover job opportunities for the service I have to sell? Who are my prospects? Who are the logical concerns to consider a person of my qualifications? Who will be most likely to buy the service that I can render?”
The first thing to do is to make up a very definite prospect list. Make it up on cards, one prospect to a three by five card, on which you gather all of the information you need.
There are many sources of information regarding companies, the nature of their products, names of their executives, and other information you need. Watch for items you see in the newspapers regarding activities of companies. Trade magazines are a good source of news of what firms are doing and planning.
Some job opportunities are to be found through employment agencies. There are good agencies and very poor ones. It does not pay to depend too much on any one employment agency. Regard any employment agency just as one prospect, one line that you have out. Do the same kind of good selling job on an employment agency as you would on the employer himself because the agency wants people who will make a good impression.
Having built a prospect list, the next thing to consider is, “Who can help me get a job?”
Very few people make sufficient use of the personal connections they have with influential people. Friends already employed in firms where you would like to work can be helpful.
Go over your list and note on the prospect cards the names of people who can help you make contact' with each prospective employer. Every acquaintance you have, who is at present employed, can be a listening post for you.
One of the first rules to consider is this: Don’t expect anybody to do anything for you that you could do for yourself. If you want a friend to call up somebody, hand him the man’s telephone number. You don’t realize how often just that little
matter of getting out a telephone directory and
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may mean the difference between somebody doing you a favor and not.
If you want somebody to write a letter for you, the thing to do is to write out a letter and say, “I wonder if you would write some such letter?” It saves the person who is going to write the letter the task of sitting down and initiating the idea himself, and gives him a starting point. Makes it as easy as possible for others to lay a few stones for you.
The use of a third-party approach is a definite asset in getting an interview. Until you get into the interview you have not accomplished anything. Your aim is to meet the person who can give you a job.
Letters of recommendation, contrary to popular belief, mean little. No one says anything detrimental in them.
Nine out of 10 of them are written to let dismissed employees down easily. So don’t ask anybody to write a letter for you unless he can write a specific letter with reference to a specific situation or a specific job.
That moment when you stand in the presence of the man who might give you a job is important. It is the critical moment. So your preparation for the interview must be thorough.
Friends Can Help
It is important that you do not break in cold on a situation without knowing considerable about the business of the prospective employer. The more you know of the background of the company the more intelligently you can talk to the prospective employer and the better impression you will make.
Another thing is to be sure you know the right man to interview. Get to the man who has the authority to make a decision about you. Learn who he is so that you don’t have to ask some underling at the door, “Who is the right man to see around here about a job?”
He will tell you, ‘There are no jobs open.” So find out who is the right man to see. Your own friends and connections can be helpful in giving you some sort of line on the man with whom you are going to deal.
Before the interview, think over the reasons why the company ought to be interested in your services, and the reasons why you are seeking a job in that particular company.
Thousands of dollars are spent in the designing of a package for a popular brand of cigarettes or bar of soap. Packaging has come to be one of the most scientific fields in merchandising. Your own “packaging” should be good.
Personal appearance is important. It is your “packaging.” Isjok your best.
The impression you make starts from the minute you enter the prospective employer’s office. You should open up the interview, without waiting to 1m? asked a lot of questions. Take some initiative. State the purpose of your visit, and start to tell in a chronological way what your experience has been and why you are qualified to perform certain kinds of services.
Tell your story, completely, but tell it briefly. You can only do that if you work your presentation out in advance. Do not memorize it. That is bad, too. But think through how you are going to present it as a good salesman thinks through the talking points regarding his product.
Your deportment during the interview is important. Don’t be cocky. There is some danger of that because in trying to act at ease you may go to the other extreme.
Be courteous. Don’t interrupt when
the interviewer is speaking. Know when to listen, but don’t let the interview drag. It is important to keep the interview alive. Have ideas that you want to express if there is a lull.
There are things to avoid. Don’t discuss your personal difficulties or how badly you need a job. The prospective employer isn’t interested.
If you had a job before, don’t knock your last employer, no matter what you think of him.
Be very careful not to misrepresent yourself. Be honest and straightforward. That does not mean to say that if you have weaknesses you should mention and magnify them. But don’t misrepresent.
Do not digress. Interviewers may throw you off the trail to see how you talk when you get on some other subject. Do not say things that are inconsistent with other statements you have made.
When the interview ends, leave as if you were going some place. Your departure should be just as businesslike as your entrance.
Every interviewer has a great many questions in his mind which he will not ask, but which he will want answered. He will want to know: Is this fellow likely to be a good co-operator? Obviously, he cannot ask, “Are you a good co-operator?” and expect to get an answer that means anything. But that is one of the big question marks in his mind. It is up to the applicant to bring out points which indicate that he is a co-operator.
If you have been on a job before, a remark that “On that job we certainly got along fine, got great results, worked together and got a kick out of it,” gets across the idea that you get along well with people.
List all the questions you can think of that the interviewer will probably want answered about you, but which he will not ask you, and then figure how to get those impressions across to him.
Sometimes you will be met by out-
right discourtesy, gruffness and grouchiness on the part of an interviewer. Meet it courteously and cheerfully. He may be trying you out to find how you react to rough treatment.
Sometimes you will be interviewed by more than one man. Don’t make the mistake of addressing all of your conversation to one of them. The other fellow may be the one who is to decide whether you will get the job. If you inadvertently slight him it is natural for him to get the wrong impression of you. So if you are interviewed by two men, be sure you keep both of them within the focus of your remarks, your eyes and your attention.
Avoid facing a strong light in the interview. If you cannot see the other fellow’s eyes you are at a very definite disadvantage. You are uneasy and don’t know why.
Particularly to war veterans, I want to say, if you have any handicaps, probably it is better to bring them into the open yourself so you may discuss them briefly. If you have some impediment in speech, and you are applying for a laboratory job and not one where you are going to do a lot of talking, refer to the impediment in an offhand way so that it is not left as an embarrassment between you and the interviewer.
If you have a physical handicap about which the interviewer may be wondering but being courteous may not ask about, it is better for the person being interviewed to bring up reasons why it is not really a handicap after all. Sometimes people have an age appearance which is misleading. If your age appears to be younger or older than it really is, make sure your real age is registered.
You may be asked: “How much pay do you expect?” The best answer is one which will indicate that you are more interested in making good on the job, in getting a job which leads somewhere, than you are in the starting pay.
Avoid, if possible, stating what you expect as a starting pay. Rather, say
that you are willing to leave that to the judgment of the man who is employing you. Tell him you are confident your ability will prove to him your worth, and the pay will, as a result, be adjusted satisfactorily.
Don’t Let Them Forget
In closing the interview, if you have not landed the job, and there is still the possibility of a job being available there, take your leave in such a way that you keep the door open. Suggest a return visit. If a man knows he is going to see you again, it is surprising how much more effectively you register yourself in his mind.
That brings us to the next step: that of following up your job prospects. Any application a week old is beginning to cool. If you maintain a persistent but tactful follow-up with about 25 or 30 companies, you will get a job much quicker than if you make hit-andrun applications in a thousand places.
If you do no more than apply for a job, you really are only covering the situation for the few minutes you are in the interview. If you don’t come back you soon pass out of mind. The natural assumption will be that you have gotten a job elsewhere.
On your prospect card make a note as to when you should follow up a prospect. Put it in your tickler file so that it comes up automatically at a certain time. Renew the contact by telephone, by letter, or by a personal call. Let your follow-up calls be brief. All you have to do is to register yourself in the prospective employer’s consciousness by sticking your head in the door and saying, “This is still the place I want to work, Mr. Jones,” and then be on your way.
Don’t wait to be called back. There are tactful ways of alternating contacts by telephone call, brief letters and personal call. But don’t let them forget you.
Remember a letter is only a substitute for your own personal appearance, and substitutes should never be used when the real article is available.
Letters have very definite limitations. Many people waste time writing letters which go into the wastebasket. Letters, of application don’t register unless they are exceptional.
When you do write it is much better to write a short letter of transmittal and enclose an experience record and qualification sheet which is your descriptive literature of what you have to sell.
First, write on paper that is appropriate and businesslike, and without deckle edges or your sister’s initial in the comer. If possible, the letter should be neatly typed. If that is not possible, it should be written legibly in ink.
Sign the letter and give your address. Read it over carefully and be sure every detail is correct. Give your telephone number, too—anything that will facilitate getting in touch with you. Go right into your story with no superfluous sentences about “having decided that I want to get a job, I’ve considered a number of companies and I think yours is one I would like to write to.”
If you have written a letter, and you received no reply, after a reasonable time follow it up with a suggestion that perhaps the first went astray. Enclose a copy of your original letter. That, in itself, is a good way to register attention.
The use of a hand-delivered letter can be very effective. Having had it worked on me a few times, I recommended it to a friend of mine out of a job. He got into all kinds of places by writing a letter to the man he
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wanted to see, and taking the letter right to the place, and saying to the man at the door, "I have a personal letter here I want to deliver to Mr. I-lodge." When he got in and saw Mr. Hedge he said, "Mr. Hedge, in order to save your time I have written a brief statement of my qualifications for a position I want to talk to you about." When you go out seeking a job, you have a job. You have a very important job. You are a salesman. You are sailing your services. So work at it like a regular job. The same rules of salesmanship apply here as in other selling: Numerous contacts and hard work count. In your spare time there is an oppor tunity to find out about new prospects,
get new information, and maintain social contacts. It is surprising how many people looking for a job drop their contacts with friends. Somehow or other they get a feeling that because they are out of a job they are out of things. Their morale sinks, and they stop seeing people. So they deliberately cut themselves off from contact.s that, are valuable. Contacts with your friends should be maintained as a spare-time activity. As a salesman of your services, you need only make one sale to put yourself on a payroll. But you must develop a selling technique, train and prepare for that one sale. My experience has shown again and again that intelligent salesmanship will resu~It in jobs.