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Four rules for finding a job in a tough market

6/24/2011, 9:13 a.m.
Four rules for finding a job in a tough market

(ARA) - The saga of the American jobs predicament goes on. In an Economic News Release, published in early June 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a slight rise in unemployment during May 2011.

While the nation achieved job gains in health care and business services, manufacturing remained unchanged, and local government employment declined. What does this mean for the American worker? Michele Drennen, director of career services at Brown Mackie College - Northern Kentucky, located in Fort Mitchell, Ky. offers insight into the process of finding a job in this tough market.

"The factory jobs went away. Many people who want to rejoin the workforce are now going back to school for career retraining," says Drennen. "Some are the first ever in the family to graduate. Former factory workers are not the only ones in classrooms these days. People with master's and bachelor's degrees are not getting in employers' doors. They are looking to be retrained. Everybody's walking a delicate tightrope."

A glut of applicants applying for each posted position can take the wind out of a job-seeker's sail. But there are definite steps one can take toward landing a new position. Drennen's expertise lies in helping others develop job-finding skills. She offers four main rules to follow when seeking employment.

Rule 1: Network, network, network

Meeting people within your field can be a valuable tool in your search for employment. "Not everybody knows how to network, but it truly can be taught," says Drennen. Whether a person is shy or outgoing, effective networking is an attainable skill. It begins with recognizing opportunities. "Part of seeking a job is communicating your goal to others. Tell the world what you're doing."

If you're looking for a position in the medical field, Drennen says tell your doctor that you're interested in working in the field. If you want to work in law enforcement, the next time you see a policeman sitting at a restaurant, introduce yourself. Let the officer know you are hoping to have a career in law enforcement. You must start the conversation and stay connected.

Rule 2: Be a professional in training

Drennen emphasizes the importance of looking and acting like a professional while searching for a job. Grooming is an important component. Remove piercings. Cover tattoos. An employer may find it acceptable once you're in the door, but they are not acceptable during an interview. Add smoking to Drennen's list of interview don'ts. "Don't smell like smoke when you show up for an interview," she says. "It can turn people off, especially in the health care industry. I take a hard line. If you want to work in health care, you might want to think about living healthy." Males with long hair also make Drennen's list of don'ts. Long hair isn't competitive.

Rule 3: Hone interview skills

Like an athlete, the more you "practice" interview skills, the better you will be when the time comes. It is essential to research the company before an interview. "Anticipate questions you will likely be asked, and bring a list of questions with you that you will ask," Drennen suggests. "Ask about a typical day in the position, and communicate your interest in growing with the company. Learn how to talk about the skills and experience you bring to the table. It's important to explain how previous experience is transferrable."

Rule 4: Learn to negotiate

Developing negotiation skills is another aspect of the interview process. If negotiating with a prospective employer, do not discuss salary until you are offered the job. Always let the employer make the offer. By doing so, you'll know what to ask for in terms of an increase. If the employer informs you that the salary is non-negotiable, consider asking for better benefits like tuition reimbursement, additional vacation days, etc. Be very careful with this because the employer may consider another candidate for the job, especially if you appear to be inflexible.

"Think of your search for a job as an investment in yourself," Drennen says. "Landing a position is the return on your investment. It's all about forming a goal and presenting a great attitude as you take steps toward attaining it."