Monday, December 05, 2005

Employment Application Process, Phase 2: Research

In the research phase of the employment application process, you cover all bases to make sure that no appropriate job opporutunity goes unnoticed. Available job-research sources are so plentiful that you may have a harder time in selecting the best ones for you than you would in choosing the best job prospects. The three most widely used research sources, which this installment of WORDS ON THE LINE covers, are as follows:
  1. job placement offices
  2. print (paper and electronic) sources
  3. personal connections
1. Placement Offices

Job placement offices fall into two types: non-fee-based and fee-based. The non-fee-based offices are actually not free. For examples, university job placement offices offer their “free” service to tuition-paying students, and professional association job placement services limit their clientele to dues-paying members. But these sources are great starting points because many of these services make your résumé available to a wide range of business and government employers. They also provide many helpful tips on writing résumés and cover letters. On the other end of the recruitment business are fee-based organizations, which tend to have more established relationships with a broader range of industries, or more focused relationships with specialized industries. Since the nature of their business is driven by their ability to earn commissions based on the quality of prospective employers and candidates they generate, their industry insights might be more extensive. Their service is available for a fee—often up to 10% of first year’s salary—sometimes payable by the candidate and sometimes by the employer. Be sure to find out what your financial obligations before signing any agreement with such organizations.

Here’s a final tip about placement offices: None of them can possibly be better than You, Inc. You should consider yourself a virtual placement office by aggressively write or calling the companies in which you’re interested and communicating periodically with receptive parties.

2. Print Sources

Print sources include the more traditional paper category and the exponentially growing electronic category. Many of the electronic sources have made the paper sources seem redundant. Paper sources include three areas (reference guides, area newspapers, and specialized periodicals); electronic sources include two areas (Internet job postings and corporate websites).

Among paper sources, the most common reference guides, all available at most libraries, are Occupational Outlook Handbook, Guide for Occupational Exploration, F&S Index of Corporations, National Directory of Employment Services, Encyclopedia of Business Information Services, and College Placement Annual. Area newspapers are often indispensable in finding local jobs. Specialized periodicals, such as professional journals, industry or trade journals, and company newsletters, are of special use if your job interests are industry-specific.

The fastest, most comprehensive and current way of finding employment and getting help with your résumé is through the Internet. There you can find public and private sources—free or billable—offering career counseling, instructions for writing résumés and application letters, models of résumés and cover letters, articles on featured employers, data on industry trends and current salaries, and relocation guidance. Through the Internet you can post your résumé for free with many of these job boards or directly with potential employers. Below are some of these web sites:
Finally, many corporate web sites have an employment section providing information on applying for a position with them.

3. Personal Connections

Tap the resources of professors, employers, internship directors, alumni members, family, and friends. They can help you in the following ways:
  • letters of recommendation
  • referrals
  • industry information
  • company information
  • regional information
  • interview contacts
The next installment of WORDS ON THE LINE will cover Phase 3 of the employment application process: Write.

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here: