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Your Personal Jobseeker's Guide

Choosing a Job
  It will be a waste of your time going for every job that comes along. Unless you have some work experience or qualifications behind you, the choices will be limited. Don’t get despondent if you can’t find something suited to you straight away – the right one will come up eventually, but you have to keep looking. In the meantime, go back over those you dismissed because you don’t have one or more of the pre-requisites. What are these special requirements? Is it possible that you could acquire them by doing a course, or perhaps by getting some volunteer work in a similar field to gain a bit of experience? Doing something positive and worthwhile will help you in a number of ways. In particular, employers will usually give prime consideration to applicants who are already working, whether unpaid or not, because it shows they have what it takes.
  Okay, let’s assume you go for some kind of training, or are going to give a portion of your time to a charitable organisation. For a start, you can concentrate on actually doing a job instead of just looking for one. Fair enough, there’s no money in it. In the case of a course, it would probably cost to enrol. But while you’re getting a handle on an unfamiliar software package, or learning to stack crates with a forklift, use the opportunity to boost your confidence and determination. Imagine it’s a real job which you intend to keep by showing that you can do it better than anyone. The same applies to voluntary work. For the time you are there helping out, forget the selfish motive of bettering your prospects – simply enjoy being able to give something without being asked and do whatever you have to do with the same drive and enthusiasm you will be putting into the paid job you are going to get. Whatever certificates or references you gain from your achievements will give you an edge later on.
  Then there is the time spent on whatever you decide to try. This is going to take you away from your normal routine and will give you some idea of the changes you may have to make when you do get full-time work. If it is similar enough to the job you intend to try for, the hands-on experience will help you decide if that type of work is what you eventually want to do. Most importantly, taking this practical approach, especially when it is unpaid, gives you the opportunity to develop a good work ethic, the kind you will need to convince your future employer that you have. And this will be much easier when you know what you are capable of because you have proved it to yourself in practice.

Your Application - First Contact
  Sounds a bit like something out of a sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? Actually, the comparison isn’t far wrong. Whether applying in writing, by phone, or in person, the people you are going to be dealing with will be alien to you, and they know nothing whatever about you. Their personal tastes, hang-ups and what might be going on in their lives at the time shouldn’t have any bearing on the way they receive you - but it will. Your first contact must be in consideration of this. Give them what they have asked for, and just a little more if you believe it is important, but beware of waffling on. Having to wade through many applications is time-consuming, so make yours concise and to-the-point – they’ll thank you for it.
  Sometimes employers require a hand-written application. This will often be the case where the job involves a certain amount of writing as opposed to typing. Draft the letter, then take a long hard look at it. Spider’s scrawl needs improvement. Practise your script, write slower, form the letters more consistently, try a different pen, then after five or ten minutes compare the results with the original. If it seems better, that’s great. If not, you may have to just go with what you’ve got . Don’t make the mistake of having someone else write the application for you – it will come back to bite you!
  Always be pleasant, polite and respectful, especially with those people you may have to go through before you actually see the boss. Make a special effort with the ones who seem off-hand or rude – get them on side and they’ll prove valuable allies later. Adopt this friendly attitude before you start writing, or pick up the phone. If you feel ratty after a bad night, hold off on the application for half an hour and go for a walk, greet people in the street, cheer someone up and get yourself into the mood. Then go back and contact the aliens. In a positive frame of mind, you will be more relaxed and that will be reflected in your words and tone of voice.

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