Getting started with your job hunt
The most critical factors in achieving a successful job hunt are attitude, persistence and having a plan. The first thing you must do in getting started is to create a mindset and put together the tools you need to carry out your search.
Get to know yourself better
A formal self-assessment can help you choose a satisfying occupational field to explore. You can take one at California Career Zone. The Quick Assessment only takes 5 minutes, and the Interest Profiler and Work Importance Profiler take about 30 minutes each. And they’re free.
If you have had work experience and want to know what other jobs you can do with the skills you’ve developed, go to www.myskillsmyfuture.org, put the name of the jobs you have done, and it will tell you other jobs that require those same skills. You can compare careers, find training and search for jobs.
Focus on your strengths
Remind yourself every day to focus on your strengths. Don’t dwell on the barriers to getting a job, or areas that need improvement. Look in the mirror, and give yourself a pep talk. Move towards what you want rather than trying to avoid what you don’t want. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who was a professor of medicine and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has some excellent advice. He says; …there is more right with you than wrong with you, even if you are sick or troubled or in pain and things in your life feel dark and out of control. What is “right” with you holds the key for regaining control of your life and growing beyond your problems. Concentrate on what’s right.
Check out your online image
About 79% of employers search the Internet to screen potential employees, so be sure to Google yourself and review everything the search engine pulls up about you. If you have created pages or allowed others to post on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or YouTube, make sure you check them out very carefully. Look for questionable pictures and four-letter-words that would scare off potential employers.
If you have any of these, you may want to do what many job seekers these days do, so they don’t get into trouble with potential employers, who may not like what they see on your social networking profile—and that could be anything from a woman in a bikini to a guy drinking beer. You can deactivate your Facebook account by going to “account settings”, and when you find a job, you can go in and reactivate it again without losing anything. With MySpace you have two options. You either can restrict the account to “friends only,” or you can delete it, which means you will lose everything and have to start over again later.
Your e-mail address and voice mail message
Be sure your e-mail address is simple, straightforward and appropriate—no slang or double meanings. Your name makes a good address. If it is already taken, add some numbers. If you don’t have a computer, you can visit an American Job Center or your local public library and use theirs.
Also your voice-mail message should be short and sweet. Don’t include a portion of your favorite song or something you think is clever. Just Hi, this is (your name). I’m not available right now. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you.
Create a 15 second elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a sales pitch about yourself and what you would bring to the job. It’s called an elevator pitch because it can be delivered in the time it would take to ride an elevator between floors. By creating an elevator pitch and practicing it over and over again, you will have something to use in interviews when asked “Tell me about yourself,” or as an introduction for your cold calls, when you contact a potential employer who you might find on the internet or in the telephone Yellow Pages. Make your elevator pitch no more than 30 seconds, but most people say 15 seconds is best. Include what you are able to do and how your skills will benefit an employer. Most people have at least 30 skills that can benefit an employer. What are yours?
After thinking about these skills and making a list of them, we strongly suggest you check out the following articles. They should help you be able to develop an effective elevator pitch:
Download a copy of Root and Rebound’s Reentry Planning Toolkit
This toolkit is to help individuals in reentry from prison and jail and people with arrest and conviction records develop an individualized reentry plan and learn about their legal rights along the way. The Toolkit provides answers to key questions such as: “What are my rights with a criminal record? Where do I start? Who can help? When should I start?” It also provides practical tools—important information, action steps, questionnaires, checklists, tips, referrals, and resources—that can guide you through common questions in reentry and help you find the answers and support you seek. You can download the toolkit at this link.
Know your record and what you can do about it
Since most companies conduct background searches before hiring, it is important to advise the employer of your ex-offender status at some point during the interview. Obtain a copy of your record from the courthouse(s) in which the misdemeanor or felony occurred and go over it thoroughly so you understand the terminology, what it states, and what it leaves out. Also find out if, and when, your record can be sealed, expunged, or legally minimized. This information should be available from the state court system as well. For more information including free legal help see Legal Resources.