How to research companies when looking for a job

research companiesLooking for work is not just about finding a job. But its about finding a place that will be a good fit and where you’re likely to be happy. The best way to achieve this is to carefully research companies that you can target in your job search.

This is an important step in the job search process. The more time and effort you spend upfront, the more likely you are to find a place that’s right for you.

Forget the job search boards. They usually don’t yield favorable results. Instead be proactive. Research the companies in the industry you’d like to work in. Find out the name of the hiring manager, and contact them directly for an informational interview. Not that many people use this tactic, but it works.

A good resource to find the hiring manager, the person with the power to offer a job, is the American Job Center’s employer locator. There are more details on this subject at our website.

Best ways to research companies

But what’s the best way to research companies? You can do the obvious like check out their websites, if they have one, and their profiles on LinkedIn. You can search the internet for information and articles about the company and possibly its executives. A good place to find articles and names of local company executives is in an American City Business Journal weekly newspaper, if you live in one of the 43 cities where they are published. They’re all online and are invaluable resources.

Local chambers of commerce serve as excellent resources for those looking for jobs, especially at small companies. These chambers are not just for big cities either. Many medium-sized and small towns have them as well. And many, if not most, have a website with a directory of member businesses, their owners and contact information. The easy way to find them is to do an internet search using the name of the town or city and state followed by “chamber of commerce.”

Be creative in your research

If you really want to find out what it’s like to work in a particular company, you need to be a bit creative and dig deep into internet resources. And don’t neglect to do this. If you think these are only for white-collar, managerial or administrative work, they’re not. These sites include the whole gamut of companies and job types.

Here are a few sites that can help you:

LinkedIn – If you have a LinkedIn account you can check a company you’re interested in, see who in your network works there and get together with them to learn more about what it’s like to be an employee. Once you get an interview, it’s a great place to find out more about the hiring manager’s background.

Great Place to Work – Not many job seekers seem to use this resource, but it’s a good way to find companies with workers who are happy to be there. You can search lists of the best places to work in certain industries or places. You can also search certified companies by search terms, industry, state or size.

GlassdoorGlassdoor offers reviews written by current and former employees about life at particular companies. There’s even a section with reviews of people’s interview experiences, often with the questions they were asked.

Indeed – Another website that offers reviews and salaries, Indeed includes companies – from Sittercity and Starbucks to Apple and AT&T – that provide all kinds of jobs.

CareerBliss – Although similar to the others, Careerbliss provides a bit of a twist. Dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace, it features a list of the 50 happiest companies in America with links to job openings at each of them.

Fairygodboss – Unique in that its reviews are written by and for women, Fairygodboss emphasizes things like maternity leave and work-life balance. It also incorporates articles and a pregnancy newsletter.

Comparably – Another, newer, review and salary website, Comparably has the tagline “Making Work Transparent & Rewarding.” It includes a company culture rating that measures how employees feel about their (non-monetary) benefits and the company’s culture – in other words how happy they are to work there.

Social Media – Although not everyone has them, you can get an idea of how a company wants to present itself by checking out its social media sites. Their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts can offer insights that you may not be able to get elsewhere.

Federal Bureau of Prisons reentry handbook provides excellent info for those leaving prison

Reentry handbook

Leaving prison and confused about how to go about getting your new life on track? Yes, reentry can be an involved process, but the Federal Bureau of Prisons has an excellent resource to help you make it through.

The agency’s 40-page  Reentering Your Community: A Handbook is downloadable for free from the internet. It is full of information about what to do even before you leave prison so that you will be well prepared to get back to life on the outside and be able to look for a job.

Three checklists give step-by-step actions that will smooth the way

Checklist #1 Things to do before your release. These include information on how to get:

  • ID documents, including your birth certificate and social security card.
  • Proof of your GED, if you have one.
  • Your medical records.

Checklist #2 Things to do immediately after your return. These include:

  • Creating an email address.
  • Finding a way to access the Internet.
  • Obtaining a photo ID.
  • Signing up for health insurance.

Checklist #3 Things to do to rebuild. These include:

  • Taking control of your finances.
  • Finding programs and organizations that can help you.
  • Considering whether to go back to school or enter a training program.
  • Starting to look for a job.
  • Rebuilding relationships with friends and family.

The handbook then goes into greater detail on many of the items listed on the checklists with instructions on things like how to open a bank account and understand a credit report; and managing child support payments and student debt, for those people who have them.

One section of the handbook focuses on major assistance programs like Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army, as well as government income, food, housing and transportation assistance programs. Each program includes a description of what it offers, and links and phone numbers to find out more information and enroll in the programs.

Info on how to take care of health issues

Another important thing that those in reentry need to take care of is their health, and the handbook includes extensive information on how to do that, whether physical or mental health or a need for drug treatment. There’s information on how to find a public health center, a link to a Veterans Administration medical center directory and mental health and suicide prevention helplines.

You can find out how to build your skills through education and launch a job search. It gives advice on resumes and how to prepare for a job interview, as well as recommending the online and physical resources of Career OneStop (now known as American Job Center).

The handbook outlines various legal issues those leaving prison might encounter and organizations they can turn to for assistance. The final section offers tips about how to rebuild relationships with people you know and love, since they will be instrumental in helping you in your journey to reentry.

How to negotiate the salary or wage you think you deserve

negotiate the salaryOne of the most important steps in a job interview comes at the end when it’s time to negotiate your salary or hourly wage. The last thing you want to do is to accept a job and then discover later you should have been getting paid more.

To be confident you’ll be paid a fair rate for the particular job you’re accepting, the first step is to do a bit of homework before the interview.

Research pay ranges

First check out two or three websites that will give you an idea of what sort of salaries are paid for particular jobs in various locations:

  • Glassdoor.com allows you to just enter the type of work and the location, and it brings up a graph with the average salary for that job, adjustable by size of company and other criteria.
  • Payscale.com asks for additional information, including your years of experience, what type of businesses you have worked in, your level of education and the name of the college you attended, if any. It then gives you a chart of the salary range for that position.
  • Salaryexpert is another site you may want to try.
  • The American Job Center offers an hourly wage calculator by occupation and local area.

You can also check out similar job titles on online job boards like indeed.com or careerbuilder.com. Another tactic, although it may be a bit more difficult, is to find someone who works inside the company and ask them about wages paid there. Or just speak with other people in similar businesses to find out the industry standard for the type of work you’re looking for.

With this information in mind, you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be able to aim for in terms of pay.

Negotiating salary is essential

Although not everyone negotiates salaries – according to salary.com, 18 percent of the people it surveyed never negotiate their salary – it’s important to do so. Otherwise you might miss out on money you wouldn’t get if you didn’t have the confidence to ask.

If the hiring manager asks what salary you’re looking for early in the interview, tell them that you’d like to get to know more about the job and its requirements before discussing salary. It will work to your advantage if you take this approach.

And if they ask your salary history, you should be honest and tell them. But then you should also make your case that with your skills and experience, you think you’re worth more. Answering their salary question directly can also show that you’re candid and have integrity.

In some states it’s no longer legal to ask your past salary. In fact, a new Massachusetts law that went into effect on July 1, 2018 makes it illegal for any employer in that state to ask about current or past salaries. They must also publish pay ranges for all job openings. A similar bill has been passed by the California legislature and approved by Governor Jerry Brown.

Pay negotiations come last

The salary negotiation should come at the end of the interview – or during the last of a series of interviews – when the hiring manager is ready to make a job offer.

But be careful if they ask for your salary requirements. You may name a number that is too low, thus shortchanging yourself, or an amount above the company’s budget. Instead, say something like, “What is the salary range you have in mind for this position?”

If they tell you, you can say (if you agree), “Well that’s the range I had in mind. Are you willing to offer (name the amount at the top of the range, if you feel comfortable doing so).

And if the range for this particular job is lower than the average salary or pay that you’ve found through your research, you can reply with, “Based on the research I’ve done on jobs similar to this one in the area, I was hoping to receive a bit more. Are you willing to be flexible?”

If they only mention a single number, that “$60,000 is what we’re offering for this position,” for example, it could just be an opener for a negotiation. You can answer with, “Would you be willing to consider a slightly higher starting salary of, say, $65,000? Based on my research, this is the average for this type of work around here, and I’m confident that you will be happy with the skills and experience I will bring to the job.”

Keep in mind that it’s usually easier to get a higher salary before you accept a position than to wait for a raise that may or may not materialize. If the hiring manager insists that you start at a certain pay level but will get a raise in “x” amount of time, try to get it in writing. Sometimes verbal promises made during the hiring process are later forgotten.

Also keep in mind that with taxes figured in, the differences in various salaries may not be as great as you think. Benefits, including health insurance, vacation and sick pay can outweigh extra pay. You need to be realistic about income, especially if it’s your first job after being incarcerated. As long as it’s a living wage, you should be satisfied.

Take time to decide

The hiring manager may say that they’ll look into it – or they may say that’s the final offer. If it is the final offer, you need to decide whether to accept the job offer or not. And it’s best to take some time to think about it, so make sure to ask how long you have to make a decision. Not only do you appear more professional with this approach, but it will give you time to think about and weigh the options. Giving an applicant a few days to make a decision is common practice among employers these days.

Keep in mind that a negotiation is a discussion of pay and shouldn’t be adversarial. You and your potential employer are attempting to come to an agreement that, hopefully, will make you happy and will fall within the department’s budget for the position.

And ask for the salary offer in writing, especially if it’s a small company. If the hiring manager doesn’t typically do this, you may want to write an email confirming the fact that you are happy to accept the position, mentioning the salary that was offered.

Determining the cost of living

Especially for those who are just getting out of prison or jail, it could be useful to determine the cost of living in the place where you’d like to settle. That way you can determine if you can afford to live there or whether you might need to consider taking on more than one job. And you can find out the cost of living by using the MIT Living Wage Calculator

Just select a state and a county from the list on the website, and you can find out the living wage for 13 situations ranging from 1 working adult to 2 adults (1 working) and 2 adults with 3 children. The calculator also includes a list of typical expenses: food, childcare, medical, housing and transportation, as well as the required annual income before taxes, so people will know how much they will need to earn.

For some in reentry and just returning to the workforce this very useful tool can be shared with the hiring manager, if needed, to influence a pay rate that is at least in line with a living wage.

From the editor: Bringing notes to your interview is considered acceptable by most hiring managers. Not only do your notes help to calm your nerves during an interview and offer a reminder of the key points to cover, they can also serve to express your preparedness and professionalism to the hiring manager. Bullet points and short phrases as reminders, and questions to ask can all be useful. Asking good questions can also help to make a favorable impress with the hiring manager, and having them written down makes for less that needs to be remembered.

U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Women’s Bureau offers web portal for women seeking higher paying work

Women's BureauThe Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Dept. of Labor has created a very useful website portal, Women Build, Protect & Move America, geared toward women who wish to find higher paying careers in construction, transportation and protective services.

The site includes occupation info from the Occupational Outlook Handbook for those specific industry sectors. Each entry covers:

  • The sorts of things people do to perform that specific job.
  • What it takes to become a worker in that field.
  • Pay scales.
  • Employment numbers and wages per state.
  • Job outlook (growth in number of jobs in the future).

A section on training, scholarships and recruitment incorporates a variety of programs by various agencies and organizations around the country.

Programs to help women enter nontraditional fields 

Building Pathways The Action for Boston Community Development’s six-week program that prepares candidates for a career in construction.

Transportation Alliance for New Solutions (TrANS) A training model sponsored by the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation I-94 North South Corridor Project to address the shortage of women and minorities in highway construction.

Rosie’s Girls A one-week summer day camp operated by Vermont Works for Women for middle-school girls to teach them carpentry and engineering skills.

Lady Truck Drivers A website dedicated to women who drive trucks or would like to and includes a directory of trucking companies that are interested in hiring women truckers and women in trucking related jobs.

Women in Transportation A program of Los Angeles Trade-Tech Community College that prepares women for employment in the automotive, heavy equipment and collision industries. Participants must be a member of one of three categories to participate, including being a previous offender (on probation or parole) – the other two are being unemployed or failure to graduate from high school or attain a GED.

Apprenticeship info is among other resources the website offers

Other resources at Women Build, Protect & Move America include a guide to nationwide and local apprenticeship programs offered by agencies, unions and nonprofit organizations. Among these are Chicago Women in Trades, Independent Electrical Contractors Fort Worth, Puget Sound Electrical Apprenticeship, University of Iron, and Mass Building Trades.

The site also has a section for employers who are looking to fill jobs by recruiting women from outside their industries.

Anyone interested in employment in nontraditional work or companies that would like to hire them should tap into the resources on the Women Build, Protect & Move America website. And always remember to check your local American Job Center to find out if there might be other programs in your area.

For more information on opportunities for women, check out:

Together We Bake

East Bay Community Birth Support Project

Nontraditional Employment for Women

 

Consider some of these hot jobs that don’t require a college degree

hot jobs that don't require a college degreeIt is possible to find a good job that pays well and doesn’t require a college degree.

CareerBuilder, the online employment website, has released a list of hot jobs that don’t require a college degree and:

  • pay about $20 or more per hour
  • have grown over the past five years
  • are projected to grow over the next five years

“The path to success is different for everyone,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation. “You can build a lucrative career through apprenticeships, post-secondary certificates or on-the-job training. There is significant demand for workers in everything from skilled trades to technology and health-related fields, and you can get your foot in the door without a formal degree.”

Here are CareerBuilder’s recommendations for hot jobs that don’t require a college degree that you may want to consider based on the opportunities they present:

Electricians:

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 11%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 5%
  • Average hourly earnings:  $26.33
  • Required education: high school diploma and apprenticeship

Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 15%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 5%
  • Average hourly earnings: $25.76
  • Required education: high school diploma and apprenticeship

Computer User Support Specialists

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 10%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 7%
  • Average hourly earnings: $25.50
  • Required education: some college

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 9%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 8%
  • Average hourly earnings: $24.87
  • Required education: high school diploma and on-the-job training

Surgical Technologists

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 9%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 7%
  • Average hourly earnings: $22.68
  • Required education: post-secondary non-degree certificate

Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 17%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 6%
  • Average hourly earnings:  $22.39
  • Required education: post-secondary non-degree certificate and on-the-job training

Chefs and Head Cooks

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 13%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 6%
  • Average hourly earnings: $21.54
  • Required education: high school diploma and on-the-job training

Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 7%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 7%
  • Average hourly earnings: $19.96
  • Required education: post-secondary certificate

Self-Enrichment Education Teachers

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 11%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 8%
  • Average hourly earnings:  $19.91
  • Required education: high school diploma

If you will soon be released from jail or prison or are already in reentry, you may want to investigate these jobs and others and discover if any of them match your skills, talents and interests. Your local American Job Center can help with your skills and interest assessment, and job search. Good luck!

 

 

 

Step Ahead offers job search help for ex-offenders, encourages them to discover their work options

Step AheadWe’re always delighted to discover a new resource for previously incarcerated job seekers, and we’ve found another one.

It’s called Step Ahead and is hosted by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and funded by Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota. Although developed for use within Minnesota prisons and jails, it is a valuable tool that anyone can use. Some of the resources are Minnesota focused, but the information and exercises are applicable to anyone anywhere.

Written in clear, concise language, the various sections of the website will help you learn what you need to know to assess yourself and organize your job search. By completing the exercises, you will have a better idea of your skills and abilities and how to apply those to your job search.

Useful exercises help job seekers learn what they have to offer

Some of the exercises that will help you focus on what is important to you and what you have to offer a potential employer include:

A strength worksheet that helps you learn more about yourself and prepares you for the inevitable “What are your strengths?” interview question that a hiring manager is likely to ask.

The matching interests to work options exercise that will allow you to match your interests to a variety of careers, some of which you may have not considered.

A value rating sheet encourages you to examine what’s important to you in a job in the way of achievement, independence, recognition, relationships, support or working conditions.

And then there’s a spreadsheet to put these all together, so you can apply what you’ve learned about yourself to your job search.

In addition, the website offers tips and info on:

  • Setting goals and creating a career plan.
  • Expanding your skills and evaluating the skills you developed from work assignments and training programs in prison.
  • Developing job search strategies.
  • Dealing with your record.
  • Determining the various types of interviews and how to deal with each one.
  • Creating a resume.
  • Learning how to network.

Although the Job Search Help section is geared towards jobseekers living in Minnesota who can seek assistance from the organizations listed, those from other states can get similar information by visiting their local American Job Center.

Here are a few additional resources that may help you:

New Beginners Job Search Handbook

My Next Move

Career One-Stop website for ex-offenders

My Skills My Future

 

State departments of vocational rehabilitation provide job training, education, other services

State departments of rehabilitationThere is one excellent resource that far too few in reentry take advantage of. But many should. And that’s state departments of vocational rehabilitation.

Their purpose: to help people who have disabilities find jobs. These disabilities can be physical, mental or even a learning disability.

The state departments of vocational rehabilitation provide job training, counseling and placement and can sometimes offer funds for qualified clients to get a college education at a public community college or public college or university.

Every state has a department of vocational rehabilitation, and they’re an often-overlooked resource. Tribal nations also have them. The majority of the funding (78.7%) comes from the U.S. Dept. of Education, with the difference made up by state monies.

Since an estimated 75% of people leaving a correctional facility have a disability of some sort, many in reentry may be eligible to apply for some of the services offered by one of the vocational rehabilitation departments. They must have a significant barrier to getting or keeping employment in order to receive the services, however.

What is offered by the departments is not an entitlement. People must really want to work and need to do everything they can to prepare for and find employment.

Few in reentry seek help from departments of vocational rehabilitation

The reasons are unclear, but very few people in reentry turn to departments of vocational rehabilitation, either because they don’t realize they qualify or they have no interest.

“A lot of people don’t understand they have a disability. It’s a stigma. A lot of people have no idea they may have a disability even if they’re taking medication for it,” says Alia Kuraishi, a statewide workforce development specialist with the California Department of Rehabilitation.

“It also goes back to people who are gang affiliated and don’t want to be associated with having a disability or being part of the system. We have invested a lot of time in reentry programs.”

Every state works slightly differently, but in California there are California Department of Rehabilitation offices in various counties statewide.

“We also have a presence in halfway houses and are mandated to be at the American Job Centers throughout the state,” says Kuraishi. “If someone can’t make it to a department office, they can connect with their local One-Stop (American Job Center) and say, ‘I’m interested in services through the department of rehabilitation.’”

Departments provide a variety of services

Those services can be a variety of things. “We’ve done education plans and helped with expungement. People need to be educated about what shows up on their background checks. We find out what’s going on in the local area and have job developers who are in touch with local businesses and know about federal bonding,” she says.http://bonds4jobs.com/

“If someone needs to go back and get a B.A. degree, we can fund training and education. If someone needs a training program to get work, we’ll look at what programs are available and fund them.”

“We will do informational interviews with different companies to see if they’ve hired people with criminal records in the past or we have the applicant do that themselves.”

All of these things can help those in reentry get a step ahead on the road to employment.

You can find a link to your state’s vocational rehabilitation department by checking out the Department of Education’s Job Accommodation Network website.

Root & Rebound publishes toolkit to enlighten employers on the value of hiring ex-offenders

Root & ReboundOakland, Calif.-based nonprofit Root & Rebound has published the California Employers’ Fair Chance Hiring Toolkit. This 28-page toolkit is not just an exceptional resource for companies and organizations that are committed to – or considering – hiring those with criminal records. It can also be used by jobseekers from that population as a persuasive tool to enlighten potential employers on the considerations and benefits they would gain from hiring them.

Although it may be hard to believe, nearly one out of three Americans has a criminal record. As the economy continues to grow and demand for additional workers steadily rises, it will become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to ignore that segment of the population.

In fact, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in 2014 between 1.7 and 1.9 million U.S. workers weren’t hired because they had criminal records. This resulted in an estimated loss of $78 to $87 billion in annual gross domestic product.

Hiring fair chance employees makes economic sense

Hiring those with criminal records makes economic sense both in the big picture and for companies themselves, but most employers still need to be convinced.

More than 40 large corporations and nearly 250 small- and medium-sized businesses, however, have already taken the Fair Chance Business Pledge created by the Obama White House in late 2015. These businesses have promised to give people with criminal records, including those who have been incarcerated, a fair chance at employment. We suggest you review these businesses that have taken the pledge to see if there are any you might want to consider adding to your list of 100 employers to pursue.

While this is a beginning and brings attention to the issue, it’s crucial that more companies become committed to hiring second-chance employees. And that’s where Root & Rebound’s toolkit comes in.

Toolkit provides extensive info for all employers

Although it’s geared toward California employers, much of the advice and most of the action steps it recommends can be useful to employers no matter which state they operate within.

The California Employers’ Fair Chance Hiring Toolkit covers:

  • The rewards of hiring fair chance workers.
  • The best practices for onboarding and training fair chance workers.
  • How to choose a reliable background check company.
  • Legal compliance and minimizing risks involved.
Giving copy of Toolkit to the hiring manager shows initiative and having their best interests in mind.

As you interview for jobs, along with your turnaround packet you may want to print out and provide the hiring manager with a copy of the toolkit to offer them information on the additional benefits that they might receive by hiring you and what steps they need to take to do so. If you live in California, this toolkit covers all the basics that an employer needs to know. If you live in another state, check with your local American Job Center to ask for help in adding relevant state-related information.

Benefits of hiring fair chance workers

The toolkit includes evidence that fair chance employees can benefit a company or organization by highlighting:

  • Case studies of companies that have hired second-chance employees with great success. For example, Johns Hopkins Health System & Hospital, Dave’s Killer Bread and Butterball Farms all have hired a substantial number of employees with criminal records and found that their turnover rate is lower than that of those without records.
  • Testimonials from executives of companies that have been actively hiring fair chance employees for many years.

Root & Rebound’s California Employers’ Fair Chance Hiring Toolkit is very well put together and an excellent resource for both employers and job seekers alike.

 

Why ex-offenders should consider entering an apprenticeship program

apprenticeshipApprenticeships not only tend to be ex-offender friendly offering second chance employment, but they are also an excellent way to learn a set of skills that are in high demand among employers. And if you’re seriously determined to find a job, entering an apprenticeship may be the way to go.

In fact, there are statistics to back that up. Human resource consulting firm ManpowerGroup, in its 2018 Talent Shortage Survey, found that of more than 42,000 employers surveyed worldwide, 40 percent are finding difficulty filling job openings, the highest number since 2007. And for the fifth straight year, the hardest jobs to fill are skilled trades.

Top 10 jobs in terms of talent shortage
  1. Skilled trades
  2. IT staff
  3. Sales representatives
  4. Engineers
  5. Technicians
  6. Drivers
  7. Accounting and finance staff
  8. Management executives
  9. Machine operators
  10. Office staff

This fact, if nothing else, should encourage those leaving jail or prison to consider a career in the trades. But there are also other reasons, most notably that:

  • 91% of those completing an apprenticeship program gain employment.
  • The average starting wage for trade union jobs is above $60,000 per year.

Apprenticeship programs can appeal to those with a variety of skills and interests and be for jobs with titles that range from boilermaker or carpenter to meat cutter or sheet metal worker.

Although the programs may last from one to six years, the average length of an apprenticeship is four years. They combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, during which participants may learn math, drafting, how to read blueprints and other skills necessary to perform a particular job. Apprentices are paid a wage – which usually starts at 35 percent to 50 percent of a full-time union job for that industry – and receive regular pay increases during the duration of the program.

How to find an apprenticeship program

There are hundreds of apprenticeship programs across the U.S., and to find out more about those in your area, you can visit your local American Job Center or search the Internet using search words like “union apprenticeship directory.”

The results that will come up may include directories of specific trade union groups, as well as directories put together by state government agencies. Here are a few examples:

California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship Standards

Indiana union construction industry

Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program

Massachusetts building trade

Minnesota building and construction apprenticeship programs

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services apprenticeship directory

Washington Building Trades apprenticeship programs

The U.S. Department of Labor maintains a list of links to all state and U.S. territory programs.

Once you decide what type of trade you might be interested in, contact your local American Job Center or a specific union office or training center in your area for the details on what to do next. Taking that first step may lead you to a new career – and a new life beyond bars.

 

Cold calling your way to a job

cold callingWhile it’s certainly not the easiest thing to do, cold calling can be the most effective way to find a job.

Forget sending out countless resumes through job boards. They mostly go into a black hole, never to be seen – by anyone but you – again. But pick up the phone. It can be your most important job search tool.

Since some job experts say that as many as 80% of all job openings are unadvertised, this may in fact be the only way to find the majority of jobs. And there’ll be less competition.

While you’ll want to avoid human resources departments whose job it is to weed applicants out, using the phone to call hiring managers can bring results.

But remember it’s a numbers game. It may take many “no’s” till you get to a “yes,” so keep on calling. Focus on your activity and momentum building and not whether you hear a “no” or “yes.”

Put together a calling list

The first thing you have to do is put together a list of maybe 100 businesses to call where you would be interested in working.

Two possible resources for this are your local phone book – paper or online version – and Business Finder, an online tool created by the American Job Center. This free database offers the name of the business, its address and phone number and key contact people with their titles. The Business Finder also includes each company’s business description, industry code, number of employees, website and even the distance of the business from your location. It offers a variety of ways to search for businesses.

American Job Center also has other resources you may want to consider for finding prospective employers.

Determine who to call

Always find out who you should call in each business. That hiring manager is typically the manager of the department in which you’d like to work. If it’s a small company (say under 25 employees), you might want to get in touch with the company manager, owner or president.

Do your homework. If you don’t already have it, look at the company’s website to see if you can find the name of the person you should talk to. If not, call the main number and ask the receptionist by pressing “O.”

What to say

Say to the person who answers, “I am trying to find out the name of the person who is the manager of (department). How do you spell their last name? What is their official title?” If they are not sure, ask if they have a company directory handy and can look it up. And make sure you ask, “By the way, what’s that person’s email address?”

Then you can later call back and either ask for that person or find them through the electronic directory and talk to them directly. Prepare a script, so you will have confidence, but don’t read from it. You can use your 15-second elevator pitch, a short sales pitch about yourself and what you bring to the job. (There are many examples online, and here’s a site with a variety.) You can also use information from your JIST card to prepare what you’re going to say.

Be enthusiastic, sincere in your interest, and remember to smile. They can’t see you but can sense and feel your smile, and believe it or not, a smile can make you more relaxed and confident.

Consider calling after business hours

If you’re too nervous to call them during office hours, call after hours and leave a message on their voice mail. Use your 15-second elevator pitch emphasizing your strengths.

It might be something like:

“Hi, my name is _______ and my phone number is ________. I love doing________ and am really good at it. I’m confident that I have the experience that could help your company succeed. I think I can offer you (give your three top assets).”

“Again, my number is_____ (say it and then repeat it) I’d like to get together to talk more about how I would be a good fit at (company name). I would appreciate it if you could give me some information about working at your company. As soon as I get off the phone. I’m going to follow up with an email and hope to hear from you soon.”

Send an email with your JIST card attached, and if you don’t hear back in a couple of days, call again.

If you don’t hear back within a week, call one more time, and say something like:

“This is ______. My phone number is ____ (if voice-mail). I’ve left a couple of voice mail messages and know how things can slip through the cracks. I don’t mean to be a pest but I hope you’re the type who appreciates persistence. I just wanted to let you know that I think I can contribute to your company and would love to talk to you about it. I’d appreciate hearing back from you, but if I don’t I promise not to call you another time. Again, this is ______ and my number is _____. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Although you may not hear back from all of the hiring managers you contact, those who do call back will help you get one step closer to the job you’re looking for. Remember it’s a numbers game. And never give up. Every “no’ brings you closer to a “yes.”