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While the unemployment rate as of the beginning of February was “little unchanged at 5.7 percent,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a number that’s near the 5 percent rate considered to be practically “full employment,” those statistics still include 6.8 million people who are “involuntary part-time workers.”
So, as the Wall Street Journal put it, unemployment may be considerably lower, but “that improvement is masking a still-bleak picture for millions of workers who say they can’t find full-time jobs.”
If you’re still looking for your dream job in this post-recession era, you need to do all you can to prepare yourself. Here are four ways to get yourself in the game.
Check your skills
If you’re a recent college graduate, the odds of you being well prepared for the business world aren’t good.
Career expert Lindsey Pollak wrote on her blog: “According to a 2013 Chegg study, … fewer than two in five hiring managers said that recent grads are prepared for a job in their field of study.” Pollak went on to advise younger workers to “master five skills: communication, organization, leadership, personal finance and ‘street smarts.’ ”
Before you start going on job interviews, do some research. First, use search engines. Look for the top companies in your desired career and then get to know them through their websites and by articles about them online.
Next, do some interviews of your own with friends or friends of friends who work in the field you’re interested in. Cara Scharf, in “The 411 on Informational Interviews” on wetfeet.com, said these kinds of interviews allow you to “develop your career path and plan your strategy according to the job titles, companies and industries that you’d like to explore.”
Scharf suggested some good questions for the interview: “What lured you to this industry? What training did you need? What is your typical workday like? What do you like most about your work, and what do you like least? Do you have any recommendations for someone just starting out? Are there other people you’d recommend speaking with?”
Network, in real life and online
Networking “in real life” is vital, but now social networking sites can be of real help. LinkedIn is a good place to keep all of your resume details up to date and explain your experience and interests.
It also is a good way to make new connections with people connected to people you know. As Pollak advised on her blog, take a little time each week to comment on connections’ status updates, to respond to messages to show “you are eager to build and nurture professional relationships,” and to “reach out” to others who attended your university and make more connections via the site’s alumni tools.
Even Facebook and other personal sites can help. You can post that you are looking for a job in that dream field and ask friends to message you with leads on job openings or friends who can help.
This is probably best if you’re at the beginning of your career. In an article on wetfeet.com, editor Denis Wilson said, “It would be a little less savvy for an experienced professional, but for someone who needs to get their name out there and make new connections, why not get everyone in your network working for you?”
Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, pointed out, “If no one knows you’re job searching, how can they help you? But if you have a job and you’re looking for other jobs, don’t publicize it on Facebook.”
At the same time, be sure to “clean up” your social pages. Even if your settings are private, you’d be amazed what can still be seen by prospective employers. Delete questionable posts and pictures and anything that doesn’t fit with the image of the employee a company would like to have.
Develop a financial plan
Whether you have a lot of debt from college or very little, you’ll still need to have financial reserves to pay for your living expenses while you look for your dream job. This is vital to allow you to have the ability to take time to find the best fit for you, but the way you handle money is also a life skill your potential employers may look into.
Pollak wrote, “Some employers check prospective employees’ credit scores before making a job offer. The reason is some employers believe personal finances are a way to gauge how responsible people are.”
If you're looking for jobs in the Utah market, visit KSL Jobs to get help along the way.