Finding work doesn't have to be a passive process. Instead of checking
classified ads or online job boards and waiting for the perfect job to appear,
you can take a more active role and improve your odds of success. And the
good news is that you don't have to do it alone.
There is plenty of help available for job seekers, or for anyone negotiating
the world of work. Looking for some guidance in your job search? Trying
to decide which career is best for you? Employment professionals can help
you find the answers. They can help you find work that you will enjoy, and
that uses your talents and skills.
There are a range of employment professionals out there. Check out some
specialties and what they have to offer.
Community Employment Centers
Chances are, there's at least one employment center near your community.
Almost all centers are nonprofit and government-funded. That usually means
their services are free. Most are staffed by job specialists who can help
you find work.
Some employment centers offer one-to-one employment counseling, pre-employment
training, career exploration and job placements, to name just a few possibilities.
"Through our employment counseling, we'll work with you to figure out what
you want to do. For example, it you want to go into nursing, we'll tell you
about the steps you need to take. If you want to go into a specific apprenticeship
program, we'll tell you what the requirements are," says Lorenzo Vaglica.
He is the general manager of employment services at a YMCA.
Most employment centers offer free workshops, resume critiques, use of
computers, photocopiers, and fax machines and a career resource library --
everything job seekers need to further their search.
Some employment centers offer an even broader range of services. Some might
even offer training options for specific fields. Visit a few of them, and
find out which ones offer the specific services you require.
If you're not aware of any employment centers in your area, do a Google
search using key words such as "employment center" or "employment resources."
Or try the yellow pages, looking under listings such as "employment services"
or "employment agency."
If you still have difficulty locating an employment center near you, ask
your school counselor for recommendations. Some employment centers give talks
to nearby schools. Others inform school counselors about their services, particularly
if their services are aimed at young adults.
Recruitment and Staffing Agencies
There are thousands of recruitment and staffing agencies across the U.S.
When choosing a recruitment agency, consider whether the agency carries jobs
in your field (e.g. health services, IT services), and whether the agency
has a solid employer base. An agency that has a solid employer base could
carry numerous job listings in your field.
"Generally, if an agency has more branches in your area, it has a higher
visibility, and therefore, has more clients (employers)," says David Toste.
He is branch manager of the San Jose office of Adecco, an international recruitment
But that doesn't necessarily mean that recruiters are waiting to hand you
a job. You'll have to do your part, as well. "You should treat your meeting
with a recruiter as if you were going to a job interview," says Toste. "Our
reputation [as a company] depends on the kind of candidates we work with,"
So, act as if you're meeting directly with an employer. Dress professionally,
be punctual, act courteous. Your goal should be to make a positive impression.
Some recruitment agencies test candidates on their typing skills, reading
comprehension or computer knowledge before deciding whether they want to work
with that candidate.
Most agencies offer temporary staffing jobs, permanent jobs or both. Temporary
jobs are temporary or part-time positions. For these roles, it’s the agency
that actually hires you. Then they send you out to their clients to perform
the work. The agency is the one that pays you.
"If you consider a staffing position, you ought to look at the agency's
benefits to see if they have medical coverage or sick leave," says Toste.
"Some staffing agencies even provide training."
Although most people look for permanent roles, a temporary staffing role
might be preferable in some circumstances. Because these roles are temporary,
employers may not require a candidate to carry all the necessary qualifications
"Choosing a staffing role is a great way to break into a new field, and
it can sometimes turn into a full-time role if you get to know your employers
well and can prove yourself," says Toste.
Some recruitment agencies specialize in certain fields such as health services,
information technology or manufacturing. The advantage of choosing a specialist
agency that should have an extensive employer network in its field. But this
doesn't mean you should dismiss generalist agencies.
"We offer jobs in technology, hospitality, transportation, finance -- everything
under the sun" says Toste. "And the advantage of choosing a generalist agency
is that we may offer you something that's not necessarily in your field, but
might be a good match. So you’re getting more options."
What if you're unsure about the kind of work you want to do? You may consider
seeing a career counselor.
Career counselors use a variety of assessment tools, such as Myers Briggs
Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, and the Holland Self-Directed Search.
These tests might sound complicated, but they all do one thing: they assess
your abilities, personality type, interests, skills and behavioral traits.
Some assessments focus more on skills, others on personality, interests and
A career counselor can help you review and interpret your assessment results.
If you've just graduated from high school, a counselor may involve your parents
in this process. After assessing the results, a counselor will help you create
an action plan to steer you towards the right career path.
Counselors can also coach you on interview skills, help you revise your
resume, or teach you job search strategies.
"A lot of people spend their time locked away in front of a computer as
a primary method of searching for work. A more effective way is to utilize
your network," says Doug Schmidt. He is a career counselor who holds a doctoral
degree in education and has his own private practice
Your network includes your friends, relatives, past employers, colleagues,
sports team and professional association -- basically everyone you know. A
counselor can help you see how these people can help you in your quest.
Counselor fees can vary, but the range is generally $125 to $150 per hour.
The costs of some of the assessments are additional, and the number of counselor
sessions can range on average from four to six sessions.
"I've had clients who've just needed two sessions, but that's rare," says
Schmidt. "A person should budget at least $700."
Making it Work
The important thing is to find an employment professional you feel comfortable
working with. In his practice, career counselor Schmidt says, "The relationship
is very important. People have to feel comfortable because we really go in-depth
into a lot of different areas of their life."
Schmidt's advice applies whether you're working with an employment center,
recruitment agency or a career counselor. There are no guarantees in finding
the right work, but you can increase your odds by asking lots of questions,
being honest in your answers and staying open to different options.