Who are you? Know Yourself!
Before you can successfully ‘sell' yourself, you have to know what you have to offer.
Think about your skills and experience and write them down. You will need to put this information on your resume and you will need to be able to talk about yourself and your valuable skills in the interview.
- Experience – do you have experience in that field? If not, can you get some by volunteering to do a similar type of job at some organization…or by participating in a work/learn/earn program?
- Education / quality – whatever education you have is important to list. Sometimes you have informal education that is worth noting – even having been in Boy Scouts or Girl Guides is a kind of education; as a homemaker your ‘work experience' has given you very high organizational/administrative skills that you should be proud of. Maybe you are ‘autodidactic' – someone who is self-educated – like someone who loves mechanics and has spent hours at a local garage, tinkering with cars, reading magazines about them.
- Attitude – as a dropout, your attitude will be an important factor in getting the job. You have to be MORE willing than others, MORE enthusiastic. You have to be keen to work. Especially because society (unfairly) looks down on dropouts, you must be willing to stand up for yourself and reclaim your own dignity. All ethical work is worthy of honor and respect in my opinion. So your willingness to work is already a very high social value. Most people “expect” dropouts to be lazy, ignorant or incompetent – that's how this word has become so destructive to our society! Yet it is not true. Bill Gates was a dropout when he started Microsoft. Think about his company's slogan – “Where do YOU want to go?” – and adopt it for yourself.
- Special skills – some skills are transferable. Do you know how to fish or hunt? Could you use your love of a recreational sport as the basis for a job in a store that sells those products? Maybe your parents or grandparents taught you a special hobby – like painting Easter eggs or blacksmithing. Can those hobby skills be applied to a job?
- Price – dropouts are usually hired for minimum wage. The most important thing is to get the job . Once you have proven yourself (after 3 – 6 months) you can discuss getting a raise. And once you have a job and experience, it is easier to get a job in a different place for a higher wage. Get the job first. Do a good job. Get the experience and a good reference. Then you will be worthy and able to earn more money and face new challenges.
- Availability, ability and reliability – because there are SO many dropouts and ‘unskilled workers' employers can always find someone to do the job. If you are a very capable person and you show your boss that you can really benefit the business, then you will be worth more money to him/her. The more abilities you have and the more capabilities you demonstrate, the better your chance of getting a better job. The more reliable you are, the more valuable you are. Show that you care about your job….and usually you will be rewarded with a raise, promotion and job security.
- References – even dropouts have friends! Even dropouts have ‘done things' in their life. Get work references for small jobs you have done for people. If you babysat, if you helped build a fence…get the person to write you a letter describing how good you were at the job, how reliable, how helpful you were. You can also ask people in your social circle such as your priest/minister/rabbi, a friendly schoolteacher for a character reference – about the kind of person you are. Until you have professional references about your work, these kinds of references can help a lot.
- And finally… Presentation! How do you look? How do you act? How to you speak when you go for an interview? What is your body language like? Remember YOU are your own advertisement . Go to the interview in clean, pressed clothes; comb your hair and brush your teeth, smile , shake hands and be friendly. Bring along a typed, printed resume and letters of reference. Try to relax – you are there to HELP the interviewer as much as s/he is there to find the right worker for the job. They need someone…and you need them! You're not begging for work – you are offering your skills/services in exchange for a salary. It's a mutual deal.
Where are the jobs?
Is it true there are ‘no jobs'?
Sometimes when you look in the paper you don't see any jobs advertised for what you would like to do, or what you are capable of doing. Does that mean there are no jobs in those fields?
Often a business doesn't have to advertise for help. Often a business doesn't want to advertise. Running an ad will bring a flood of mail and phone calls. There won't be enough staff or time to even respond to hire the person!
Often businesses ‘limp along' – in need of staff but unable to put the time and energy into hiring.
That's where a pro-active approach on your part can work.
If you know of a business or industry where you would like to work, prepare your resume, gather your letters of reference, and then take action.
- Phone the business (practice your ‘sales pitch' first)
- Offer your services
- Find out who is in charge of hiring at that business
- Talk to the person by phone if you can
- Send in your resume by mail, fax or e-mail to that person's attention
- Find out WHEN they might be hiring (if not right now)
- Keep in touch with them
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