Money Matters

‘Be as honest as you can without blowing the interview’

I want to say up front that when it comes to job search and acquisition advice, there is no such thing as one size fits all. But I will attempt to offer some general guidelines that should be helpful to many people in a wide variety of situations and opportunities. As you know, finding employment in the current economy is a challenging venture that requires diligence and perseverance, and more than a little luck.

Experts tell us that the most effective way to find jobs is still through networking, and I agree with that premise. Talking to friends and family and former co-workers — that would be a good place to start. A distant cousin of networking is cold-calling. Contacting business owners who are not currently advertising jobs might lead to surprising results. Many employers have low-performers on their payroll, but they keep them because they don’t have a ready replacement — that could be you.

Most experts agree that without a resume, you have no chance. So if you don’t have one, create one. And if you don’t know how to do that, get help. Free help is available at places like The River Center in Peterborough.

Once you have that resume, you can reply to ads or send it to employers or hand copies to friends and family. Try every avenue available. When you are fortunate enough to get called to an actual interview, keep in mind:

You must research the company so that you are well-acquainted with their products or services. Conversation will be so much easier.

Dress appropriately for the job you are seeking, but always clean and neat. No need to wear a tie to apply for a maintenance position.

Practice answering hard questions with a friend. Have them ask you why you are right for the job and what special skills you bring to the table. Have them ask you about previous employment and what happened to end those jobs. You must have good answers here.

Be as honest as you can without blowing the interview.

Be well-prepared mentally to consider your wants and needs as well as the employer’s needs. Are you now so desperate that you will take any job? If so, then you don’t have to think too much. But if you are after a meaningful career and if you really need benefits, then keep that in mind during the interview and tactfully work this in when the moment is right. Tricky, but you will learn to do this.

Be prepared to provide references. Competition for jobs is fierce, so you don’t want to be at a disadvantage against others.

Near the end of an interview, it is appropriate and wise to ask about the timing of the employer’s decision schedule and ask if you will be informed about decisions one way or the other. If you don’t hear from them in two weeks, follow up with a phone call.

If you are a college student — and this is a biggie — try very hard to connect with some company for a paid internship. They are out there and many that are offered go unclaimed. If you are up against another candidate who has interned and you have not, too bad.

Always try to be yourself — unless yourself is a jerk and a loser. Then I guess you will have to fake it til you make it as best you can, and I wish you luck. Everyone deserves a chance to have a job.

Once you do land a job, please show up, make an effort, take pride in what you do for your own sake, learn from the experience, and keep your options open. It’s a journey, be patient.

Larry Schwartz of Hancock has been providing financial advice in the Monadnock region for 12 years. He has been trained in all areas of personal finance and he volunteers as the official Money Coach for The River Center in Peterborough.

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