Guide To Finding The Right Job
Finding a job is never easy. But by conducting an organized and
thorough search, you can greatly increase your chances of success. The
fact is that job openings occur every day, and being at the right place
at the right time often makes the difference. This booklet provides tips
on how to plan and conduct a successful job search
to get the job you want.
List Your Skills
Your first step should be to make a list of your skills, talents and
experience. This list should include not only education, training and
job experience, but also any hobbies, sports or charitable activities
you engage in that display talent or initiative. For example, you may
never have held a supervisory position, but a background in coaching or
a leadership role in a civic or charitable group will give evidence of
leadership that an employer may find attractive.
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Match Your Skills to Jobs
You should then match your skills and experience to jobs that require
the talents you have. Don't limit yourself to jobs you have previously
held or for which your education is suited. Your skills may be well
suited to a job you have never thought about.
Your local library and State Employment Service have publications
that will help you decide what jobs best match your skills and
experience. You may also arrange for an interview with a career
counselor who can help you decide what kind of work is best suited to
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Getting The Word Out
Because many job vacancies are not advertised, word-of-mouth contact
is one of the most effective methods of finding a job. Take advantage of
school, civic, charitable and sports activities in your community to
tell your friends and family you are looking for a job. Ask if their
employers are hiring, or if they know of hiring by other employers. If you
are knocking on the employer' s door even before an opening is
publicized, you have a good chance of being at the right place at the
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Upgrading Your Skills
As part of your job search, you may wish to upgrade or enhance skills
you already have. For example, you may have worked in a skilled position
for many years, but never acquired a license or certificate for that
skill that some employers require. By contacting the appropriate state
agency, you can learn what steps need to be taken to acquire a license
or certificate. Often, your local community college or vocational school
can provide free or low-cost training that will enable you to obtain the
license or certificate you need.
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While you should not limit your search to openings that have been
publicized, the job sources listed below are a good place to start:
Railroad Retirement Board -
The Railroad Retirement Board maintains a
listing of job vacancies furnished by railroad employers. Contact
your nearest RRB office for more information, or check the jobs list at
www.rrb.gov. The RRB list also
has links to jobs on railroad web sites.
Union Hall- If you have the appropriate license or certificate,
union officials can provide information on where to apply for work.
State Employment Service -
The State Employment Service can help direct your job search and match
you with suitable job vacancies. The Department of Labor web site
www.workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/map.asp has links to the
unemployment insurance web sites of all 50 states.
Newspaper Advertisements -
The "Help Wanted" section will give you information about companies that
Government Personnel Offices - You can obtain information concerning
openings for all levels of government (Federal, state, county,
municipal, etc.) by contacting the appropriate personnel office. You may
have to take a civil service test.
Job Fairs - Businesses and
local governments will often hold job fairs as a means of getting
employers and potential employees together.
Private Employment Services -
Private employment agencies match employers with potential employees.
Some charge the employer a fee for their services, and others charge the
employee if he or she is hired.
Vocational School, Community College
or University Placement Offices - The placement services of
schools and colleges may be available, if you are or have been enrolled
as a student.
In addition to using the sources listed
above, check the "Yellow Pages," library and chamber of commerce
information about businesses and other employers to which you might
apply for work.
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What Is a Resume?
Your resume is a list of your job experience, skills and
accomplishments. It is your formal introduction to a potential employer.
It is your opportunity to emphasize your skills, education and talents
and to tell the employer how you can help the company.
When Is a Resume Necessary?
A resume is generally necessary when applying for jobs in sales,
supervisory positions, office and clerical jobs, and other so-called
"white-collar" positions. One is generally not required when applying
for jobs in skilled or semi-skilled crafts, construction work, laborer
jobs and other so-called "blue-collar" positions. In any case, preparing
a resume is good exercise for focusing on your skills, talents and
experience, even if one is not required.
How Do I Prepare a Resume?
Your local library or State Employment Service can provide
information on how to prepare a clear and concise resume. Also, resume
services can assist you in preparing your resume for a fee.
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Letters of Application
If the type of job you want requires a resume, you should
also prepare a "letter of application." A letter of application is a
cover letter sent to a prospective employer or hiring official with your
resume, and gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself to the
employer and to request a job interview. Refer to your local library for
information on preparing a letter of application.
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The interview is usually the most important part of the
hiring process. This brief conversation between you and the employer can
determine whether you get the job. Successful interviewing is a skill
that requires planning and practice, and is well worth the time and
effort to learn.
Before the Interview
A little research will give you an advantage. Learn as much as you
can about the company, its operations, and its products. If you have
family or friends who work at the company, talk to them to get an idea
of what to expect. Also, try to learn as much as possible about the
position you are applying for, especially if it's something new for you.
Knowledge of the company and the position will set you apart from
Before you leave for the interview, do a mental check to make sure
you have everything you need. Since you may be asked to fill out an
application, prepare by bringing a listing of former jobs and
supervisors, references, and school transcripts, as well as your social
security card, driver's license, military records, union card or
professional license, as appropriate.
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At the Interview
You should be clean, well groomed and conservatively dressed. Don't
overdress or appear too casual (i.e., no jeans). Your appearance will
affect your interviewer's opinion of your suitability.
Arrive a little early so you have time to find the proper office and
collect your thoughts. You should attend the interview alone and should
not bring any packages or other personal items, except possibly a
During the interview, speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard.
Sit straight and avoid nervous habits like foot-tapping or fidgeting. Do
not smoke or chew gum.
Answer questions in a clear and positive manner that shows you have
an interest in the position and the qualifications to successfully
perform it. Listen carefully to the interviewer and allow him or her to
lead the conversation, but don't be afraid to bring up a point you
believe is important to your effort to obtain the position. If you are
not immediately sure of how you want to respond to a question, take a
few moments to formulate your reply, rather than blurting out your first
thought. Look directly at the interviewer to avoid appearing nervous or
evasive, and if you don't know or aren't sure of an answer, say so,
rather than trying to bluff your way through.
Expect Certain Questions
You will likely be asked questions concerning prior jobs and/or
experience. It' s best not to make negative comments about former
employers, even if you were fired or left on less than amicable terms.
Rather than complaining and appearing petty, simply explain that there
were problems and things didn't work out. Many employees' complaints are
justified. Also, many interviewers will ask general and somewhat vague
questions to allow you to talk about yourself.
- What are your outside interests?
- What can you contribute that other applicants cannot?
- What do you hope to be doing in five years?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why should I hire you?
Questions like these allow you to relate your strengths and
experiences to the position you are seeking. They also can give you the
opportunity to present qualities not directly related to the position,
but which display diversity, initiative and a well-rounded character.
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After the Interview
As you leave, you should be mentally evaluating your performance, in
order to learn from the experience:
- Was I too tense? Too relaxed?
- Were my answers too general? Too specific?
- Did I present my qualifications well?
- Did I stress qualities and experiences that will make me stand
Think of things you can improve so that your next interview will be
better. Practice your interviewing with a friend or family member, so
that you develop confidence and a positive attitude toward your ability
to project a good image.
You may want to mail a brief thank-you note to the interviewer for
taking the time to talk to you. This will emphasize your interest in the
position and cause you to stand out in the interviewer's mind.
If you haven't heard anything within a reasonable period, contact the
employer. If the position has been filled, let the employer know you are
still interested in future openings. Ask what you could do to improve
your chances next time.
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Set up a file for recording your efforts to find work and your plan
for continuing your job search. This will enable you to follow up on
your contacts with employers after you have written to them or been interviewed
and will help you organize and plan your efforts.
In addition, if you are claiming unemployment benefits under the
Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act and do not have good prospects for
returning to your railroad job, you are required to make appropriate
work-seeking efforts. Your records will assist you in documenting your
work-seeking efforts when you are interviewed by a representative of the
Railroad Retirement Board.
The following Job Search Plan summarizes the advice in this booklet
and is a handy guide for organizing your work-seeking efforts.
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Job Search Plan
Complete items 1-3 on this checklist before starting your job search.
Complete items 4-5 every day of your job search.
Complete items 6-9 when you have interviews.
1. Identify Occupations
- Make a background and experience list.
- Review information on jobs.
- Identify jobs that use your talents
2. Identify Employers
- Ask relatives and friends to help you look for job openings.
- Go to your Railroad Retirement Board and State Employment Service
offices for assistance.
- Contact employers to get company and job information.
- Utilize other sources to get job leads.
- Obtain job announcements and descriptions.
3. Prepare Materials
- Write resumes (if needed). Use job announcements to "fit" your
skills with job requirements.
- Write cover letters or letters of application.
- Assemble a job search kit: pens, writing tablet, maps, public
transportation guides, clean copies of resumes and applications,
background and experience list, social security card, and picture ID.
4. Plan Your Time
- Wake up early to start looking for work.
- Make a "to do" list of everything you'll do to look for a job.
- Work hard all day to find a job.
- Reward yourself (do a hobby or sport, visit friends, etc.)!
5. Contact Employers
- Call employers directly (even if they're not advertising
openings). Talk to the person who would supervise you if you were
- Go to companies to fill out applications.
- Contact your friends and relatives to see if they know about any
- Update your written record of your contacts with employers.
6. Prepare for the Interview
- Learn about the company you're interviewing with.
- Review job announcement to determine how your skills will help
you do the job.
- Assemble resume, application form, etc. (make sure every thing
- Arrange for babysitter, transportation, etc.
- Give yourself plenty of time.
7. Go to the Interview
- Dress right for the interview.
- Go alone.
- Be clear, concise, and positive.
- Thank the interviewer.
8. Evaluate the Interview
- Send a handwritten thank-you note to the interviewer within 24
hours of the interview.
- Think about how you could improve the interview.
9. Take Tests
- Find out about the test(s) you're taking.
- Brush up on job skills.
- Relax and be confident.
10. Accept the Job
- Understand job duties and expectations, work hours, salary,
- Be flexible when discussing salary (but don't sell yourself