(BPT) - With record numbers of people seeking employment, competition is fierce for any job in any industry. If you're looking for work, it might seem difficult to know how to stand out from the crowd. For anyone feeling stalled in their job search, a few simple steps could put the wind back in their sails.
"When I talk with students who are discouraged, the first question I ask is, 'What are you doing?' Nine times out of 10 they're on the computer," says Chasity Trzop, director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College - Louisville. "The computer is a passive job search. You are one of a thousand online, with about a 10 percent chance of getting an interview if you have done nothing face-to-face with the company. You must get out and interact with people," Trzop says.
Treat a job search like a job.
Trzop reminds graduates that searching for a job is a job, and should be treated as such. A good rule of thumb is to do 10 things each day in support of your job search. "Five of those things can be done online, like finding and applying for jobs, and writing e-mails to strengthen your career network. The other five things should be personal contact with people who may be able to help. Get up and meet with people face to face," says Trzop.
Join professional associations.
Students at Brown Mackie College - Louisville learn early during their academic program the importance of building a professional network. They are encouraged to join student clubs and professional associations in support of their major. The affiliations are helpful in securing an externship, and indispensable when searching for employment. Attending association functions puts you in front of people who may be hiring. "No one knows how wonderful you are if you're hiding behind your computer," Trzop says. "Go to events, and carry your resume with you."
Volunteer to apprentice without pay.
Volunteering to work without pay can go a long way toward finding a job. "Offer your service to someone in the field you want to enter. Ask if you can shadow him or her for a few days," Trzop recommends. "Who wouldn't want free labor? It's no skin off your nose if they say no." Trzop has seen many students gain on-the-job experience this way. Several proved to be so useful that the company created jobs for them.
Volunteer for community service.
Make productive use of your time. "Volunteer for any type of community service that interests you," Trzop says. It provides numerous benefits. It gets you out of the house and introduces you to new people. "You never know when you'll meet someone who may be hiring. The experience also looks great on a resume, and can fill gaps in employment," she says.
Use the phone to your best advantage.
Trzop tells graduates to keep in touch. After meeting people in the industry, call them to solidify the relationship. Ask for information on which companies may be hiring. "Make excuses for calling," she says. "If your profession requires certification, call your contacts when it comes through."
Social websites aren't just for small talk.
"More and more people are turning to social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn in their search for employment," says Trzop. "The websites make it easy to connect with others who share your interests." Brown Mackie College - Louisville has even begun to use LinkedIn to find intern candidates and promote internship fairs.
Now you are armed with specific knowledge on how to conduct your job search from a career service professional. "Keep a positive attitude and do the legwork that will put you out in front of people," Trzop says. "I tell our school's graduates, 'School is boot camp. Now go out and be a soldier.'"