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Find the right job – right now

By Jason Alderman

I know people who love their careers and can’t wait to go to work each day. And I know others who hate their jobs and feel underemployed, underpaid or overworked. No matter where you fall in that spectrum today, someday you may want to test the waters for new opportunities. If you’re wondering where to begin, here are a few tips:

Build your resume carefully. Your resume tells potential employers whether you have the experience and qualifications they seek. Include your education, work experience (including volunteering), other applicable experience outside of work and any awards that demonstrate relevant skills. Concise, strong language and an organized appearance are important. If your resume appears disorganized, an employer may assume you are as well.

Network, network, network. Many great jobs are never advertised, so you have to get out and meet the right people. Try these tactics:

  • Don't be afraid to call or e-mail friends, family, and even casual acquaintances.
  • Devise a 10-second “elevator speech” that captures who you are, your qualifications and what you’re looking for; you need to be able to sell yourself when making that first impression.
  • Attend networking events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, local colleges, trade associations or other business and social organizations.
  • Ask for “informational” interviews. Even if the people you meet can't immediately connect you with a job, they may have valuable advice on where to look and whom to contact.
  • Volunteer your time for a favorite cause – this is a great way to meet new people while doing something positive for your community.

Think ahead. Beyond your next job, think about long-term career progression. What else do you want from a job besides earning a paycheck – perhaps acquiring new skills or experiences? What kind of job will get you closer to your goals? Also, while salary is important, consider the benefits package being offered. Employer-matching 401(k) contributions and low-cost medical insurance can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Start looking now. Many experts recommend starting your search six to nine months before you want the job. But, in reality, you should never stop looking. Constantly keep your eyes open for new opportunities. Keep networking and building your list of contacts. If you’re about to graduate from school, check out “Welcome to the Job Market” at Practical Money Skills for Life (www.practicalmoneyskills.com/jobs), a free personal financial management site sponsored by Visa Inc.

Interviewing tips. Research companies so you know what they do and how they do it, and be ready to share that knowledge. Prepare a list of questions you have about the company and the position. If you enter an interview prepared not only to answer – but to ask – questions, you’ll appear more interested and confident. And finally, determine how your skills can help the company – that’s likely to be a question you’re asked and a good response will help you stand out from the crowd. Many Web sites offer advice on honing your resume-building and job-hunting skills, including www.monster.com, www.hotjobs.com and www.careerbuilder.com.

I doubt anyone really enjoys job hunting, but if you keep your eyes open you might just learn a few things about yourself and what you want to accomplish in life.


Jason Alderman directs the Practical Money Skills for Life program for Visa Inc. More information about retirement planning and other financial tips can be found at www.practicalmoneyskills.com. As always, consult a financial professional regarding your particular situation.




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