Someone in my family called and asked me to help them get a job. In this economy, getting a job is tough. So here are my tips:

1. Tell people you’re looking for a job. When the jobs are few & far between your family & friends are going to be the first to hear about positions at their respective organizations. In many cases they receive emails about open positions before the company releases them publicly. Don’t let your pride make you hide!

2. Spell check your resume and cover letter. Nothing says you’re not serious about a job like errors on your resume. You also want to make sure your resume floats to the top by using powerful verbs and colorful adjectives. Also, include a cover letter that discusses who you are, what you know about the organization and how you can contribute if hired.

3. Show up in person and ask for a manager or a superior. Introduce yourself. Briefly say who you are and why you’d be honored to have the opportunity to serve in this position. Make eye contact, give a good firm handshake, smile and dress professionally. Even if you’re applying to be a trash collector or a fitness guru you still need to look professional. You only have one time to make a first impression.

4. Pound the pavement. Everything is online now. It’s easy to apply for 50 jobs but nothing shows your interest like coming in to ask for an application.

5. Prepare for the interview. Have a trusted friend or family member go through sample interview questions and provide constructive feedback. Prepare for the “What is one of your weaknesses?” or “Describe a challenge you’ve had at another job?” Also, if you lost or left your previous job for shady reasons, prepare to discuss that. Finally, if there has been a big lapse (6 months or more) since you had a job, be prepared to discuss how you’ve been spending your time.

6. Use a professional email which simply includes the name your parents gave you. No flavors, no colors. I should not be able to tell your skin tone (hot chocolate or brown bunny) your favorite element of nature (blooming flower) or your mood (sweet or angry brown girl ). Simply include an initial (d or m) and your full last name at gmail.com oryahoo.com. If your name is already taken add the last two digits of the year you were born or another significant number but try not to use more than 2 digits. Also stay away from underscores and dashes which are not as simple.

7. Follow up. After you put in your application politely call to inquire about open positions. Persistence is the name of the game in a competitive economy or industry.

8. Know something about the company and be able to articulate what you know. Look at their website and learn about their history. Pick up on buzz words and the mission of their organization. Also learn about the specific role (job) you will be working and think about past experiences and jobs you’ve had and make it translate.

9. Send a thank you note to your interviewer or the manager. Be sure to get their first and last name and jot it down. Send the note the day after your interview via US mail. It should say something like “Thank you for interviewing me for the [fill in the blank] position. Your mission and values are aligned with my own and I thank you for considering me. Sincerely – Your first and last name.” No one does this anymore but it may help you to get your foot in the door.

10. Take advantage of seasonal opportunities. This is especially the case in retail. Start looking for a job in September or October and you may get hired on a part time basis. Do a great job and they will find a place for you after the holiday season.

Finally, understand that no one starts at the top. You may have to start in the basement and work your way up. There is nothing wrong with that!

Also set a quota for yourself. Perhaps you say, “every day I’m going to complete two new applications.” Cast a wide net. You never know what you’ll get and understand that sometimes it takes time to get your dream job. If you have any more questions, please leave them in the comments section. I’ll be happy to help!

Co-Founder & Executive Director of Donda's House, Inc. Wife to Che "Rhymefest" Smith. Believer. Writer. Scrapbooker. ΣΓΡ.

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