Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tips for Job Hunting

Here are some helpful tips when you’re in the job-hunting mode:

1.  Face this challenge with a positive attitude.
Claim the promise of Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Start each day with this purpose and attitude: I have a job today, and that job is to do everything I can to find a job.

Don’t allow yourself to get into negative thought patterns. Make it a matter of daily prayer that God will guard your mind against negative thinking and empower you to keep those thoughts true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, as Philippians 4:8 admonishes us to do.

2.  Remember that God is still sovereign, in the world and in your life.
He is not caught by surprise at what has happened to you, and he has a plan to turn this experience into good for you.

3.  Establish a daily routine and discipline.
  • Get up early
  • Spend an hour each morning in communion with the Lord
  • Exercise each day for at least half an hour
4.  Designate several hours a day for the job search job that you have! 
Plan each day with a schedule of what you will do that day to move this job search along. Proverbs 20:4 says, “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.” This job-hunting time is plowing season for you, and plowing is no fun. But you’ll reap a harvest if you do the plowing, so don’t get “weary in well doing, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up,” as Galatians 6:5 reminds us.

5.  Keep a record each day of what you plan to do and what you accomplish in this job search mode.

6.  Put together a good résumé and cover letter—one that can be customized for each potential employer.
  • After you write the first draft of the cover letter, write down the first word in every sentence and make sure there is a variety in your sentence structure. If you begin most of the sentences with “I,” it has the subtle effect of making you sound self-absorbed or egocentric.
  • Think through the biggest reservation that the company will have about hiring you. Go ahead and ask it as a direct question in the first line of your cover letter, something like this: “Why should ABC Company hire someone who. ..”  Fill in the blank. It might be “someone who doesn’t have any prior experience in this,” or “someone who is right out of college. . .” The next sentence should answer that question in a plausible, positive way.
  • The cover letter should not cover anything that is already on the résumé. For example, the job may not be in any way related to playing the piano, but if you are an accomplished pianist and make some passing comment about it, it shows another side to you as an applicant, which might connect on some other level with the reviewer.
  • Remember to spell the word “résumé” correctly, with the appropriate apostrophes over the e’s, which distinguishes it from the word resume. It shows your attention to detail, to doing things right, and that can be very important. Make sure there are no misspelled words or incorrect grammar in your cover letter or résumé. Don’t trust spell check; ask someone who is very good in these areas to proof it for you.
  • Do not say “References available upon request.” If the interviewer has to call you to get references, they probably won’t because they don’t want to get into a conversation with you until they have checked your references. And besides, putting in some references shows something about you. They should have diversity of gender, ethnicity and position/relationship. If you’re a woman and all your references are women, that could be a red flag—or vice versa for a man. Make sure all contact information is correct and up to date.
  • Your cover letter and résumé should be tuned to the audience or business or culture. A generic objective doesn’t work. Look at the position description. Locate the key words. Re-organize your experience and skills under key words in the position description. That directs the reader’s vision more quickly to what they want to see, and it shows that you want the job badly enough to do some customization of the résumé.
7.  Find or start a support group of people like you—Christians who are looking for a job, or perhaps some who have come through it recently.
The purpose is to encourage each other. You can network together, share your experiences and your knowledge, and most importantly, pray for each other.

8.  Improve your skills.
This is the perfect time to learn some new computer programs, take a course at a local community college, look for seminars in your area that relate to your field—whatever you can do to gain new knowledge and improve your skills.

9.  Find people in the kind of job you would like to have and ask them for an appointment to simply find out how they got their job.

10.  Prepare well for a job interview.
  • Learn as much as you can about this potential new employer and about the position that is open.
  • Think of what questions you might expect and prepare answers.
  • Practice your answers out loud. You don’t need to memorize your answers, but you certainly want to have answers ready as much as possible.
  • Speak with confidence, with a good solid voice, and without a lot of verbal crutches, like “you know” and “like” and “uh” – the more professional you sound, the better, and verbal crutches degrade your professionalism.
  • Get up early on the interview day, spend lots of time praying about it, asking for God’s peace to surround you, eat a good breakfast, and make sure you dress appropriately.
  • The rule of thumb is to dress for one job higher than you’re interviewing for. In other words, go the extra mile in choosing your clothes; be conservative, modest, and appropriate for that job. Darker colors are usually best.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early for the interview.
  • Put a smile on your face, stand up straight and maintain good posture, make sure you have a firm handshake, never chew gum, maintain good eye contact, sit still in your seat, avoid fidgeting and slouching, avoid negative comments about previous employers or managers, and above all, listen very carefully to each question and give succinct and direct answers.
  • Be sensitive to the interviewer’s time; don’t get into small talk unless he or she initiates it.
2 Corinthians 8:21: “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” This is a time to take pains to do what is right.

Always thank the interviewer for his or her time and depart gracefully. Then establish a follow-up plan. Send a thank-you letter to the interviewer immediately. Keep it short but restate your interest in the position and your confidence in your ability to do the job.

More than anything else, as a Christian in the job-hunt mode, keep entrusting your future into God’s hands.

Here are words of comfort from God’s Word:

Isaiah 30:18: Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.

Isaiah 40:28-31: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength, so as Paul reminded us in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” “Always” includes even those times when you are looking for a job. Offer sacrifices of praise, stay confident in the Lord and keep a positive frame of mind. This could turn out to be one of the most meaningful times in your life, because you will learn to trust God like never before.

Please download our Job Hunting Kit which is loaded with tons of helpful information from a career coach.

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