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A job isn't everything. But it can give you what you need to make your life more pleasurable, more comfortable, more satisfying. To wake up every morning and have a mission.
That mission, whether you're employed as an office worker, a garbage collector, a waitress, or a computer technician, should take you closer to reaching your life's goals.
Work, and a paycheck, will allow you to provide financially for yourself and your loved ones. You'll earn money that will put food on your table and clothing on your children's backs. You may receive benefits from your job, such as health care insurance, which will enable you to take better care of your family's physical well-being. You'll have the chance to set money aside for future goals, such as buying your own home or sending your children to college. It's the key to a better future.
But a job isn't just about a paycheck or receiving a salary. It's about self-respect and emotional growth. Being an employed member of society gives you an opportunity that the unemployed don't have. You'll be respected as a responsible member of society who can contribute to the community through the job you perform each day.
A job is a fantastic learning experience. Your work might teach you new skills that can open you to new opportunities. Of course, you'll learn how to perform the duties required for your job, but you can take it further and learn more. You can see how a company or business operates. You may be exposed to other jobs you're interested in trying. Along the way, you'll meet people who will observe the work you do, and depending on how well you perform, they may choose to help you take the next step. You may even learn skills that will enable you to start your own business, if that's your goal.
Whatever job you choose, it is important to take pride in the work you do. Your attitude will be reflected in how well you're able to perform on the job and will define you as an employee with a future.
Not every job is right for every person. Before you start your search, you need to decide what kind of a job you want and what kind of a job you're qualified for.
Perhaps you've always wanted to be a clothing buyer for a department store, someone who chooses the latest fashions that will be sold in shops, but you've never worked in the clothing industry. Without experience, you can't simply walk into a store and say you want to be their buyer. If you apply for a position as a clothing buyer, you're probably going to be rejected, not because you're not capable but because you are unable to verify that you can do the job. You don't have the right kind of experience.
Your first step is to be realistic about your skills and your experience, and to apply for jobs for which you're qualified. Realistic goals will lead you to success.
That doesn't mean that you can't better yourself to work your way up to the top. Just don't expect to start there. Many heads of companies began at the bottom and learned while they worked. Many restaurant owners started out as busboys or waitresses. Newspaper publishers started as paperboys or pressmen. And clothing buyers started as salespeople.
When you're trying to decide what kind of job to search for, you first need to consider the following:
- What makes you happy? If you don't like animals, you shouldn't seek work at a veterinary office. If you aren't comfortable making conversation with strangers, customer service or telemarketing may not be for you. But if you love children, you might consider working at a day care center. If you have a fondness for fine food, a gourmet restaurant may be a perfect fit. You may be qualified for many jobs you won't enjoy, but if you can find a workplace that will pay you to do something you love, you'll be happier in your job and you'll be a better employee.
- When do you need to work? Some jobs are very steady, starting at 9 A.M. and ending at 5 P.M. Other jobs require that you work weekends or at night, and those varying hours may not fit into your lifestyle. If you have school-age children, you may be willing to work only when they're at school. If that's the case, working in a hospital, where patients need care all day and all night, may not be for you. If you don't have children, or if you have a partner or other family members willing to care for your children, you may not need to be home at night. Off-hour jobs could fit nicely into your lifestyle.
- What kind of atmosphere do you like? Different jobs require different levels of professionalism, and even seriousness. Retail jobs in busy stores with a high volume of customers will allow you to meet many new people. Being friendly and having an outgoing personality would be an asset in a place like this. Or if you pursue an office job, you may have to sit at a desk all day long in front of a computer screen without many people to talk to. Some jobs require business suits, while others welcome casual dress. You should choose a job with an environment that suits you.
- What do you want for the future? Forget the past. Don't say "what if?" What if you hadn't dropped out of school? What if you had taken that job ten years ago? What if you had waited longer before having a child? The past is the past, and looking back isn't what matters now. It's looking ahead to your future and where you want to go that's important. Even if you have little or no experience in the working world, you have many valuable skills. You can use those skills to find your next job, which may put you on the path to a long-term career. You might start out in an entry-level position and work your way up to more prestigious, higher-level work. If there's a higher-level job you want, consider starting out with a job that will help you learn the skills that you'll need to move to the next level.
Most important, remember that you don't have to stay in any job forever. If you don't like the job or the industry you've chosen, you're not stuck there. Most people change careers several times during their lives. If the job you've taken isn't working out, you can always look for something else that better fits your interests, your wants, and your abilities. We'll talk more about how to choose the best job for you in chapter 3.
Every job commands respect. Even jobs you might consider unappealing provide an important service for someone, or for something, in society. Think of some of the jobs people aren't quite dreaming about, such as working in your city's sanitation department. Your first impression might be that it's a dirty, distasteful job, but there are great benefits. Many city jobs offer pension plans (which will pay you money when you've retired after working for a certain number of years), and they often offer other benefits, such as health care and life insurance. And these workers perform an essential service. They keep our streets clean and they keep our garbage out of neighborhoods. Without them, life would be very unpleasant indeed.
To think that a food service or a construction job is not up to your level has little to do with the job itself. It's more about how you're looking at the job. Many waitresses and construction workers have advanced their positions and are now restaurant owners or established builders. If you choose to make this your goal, you can take any job and turn it into an opportunity for advancement.
So while you may have job preferences, you should try to feel that nothing is beneath you. Few people are so talented or irreplaceable that they don't have to make some concessions when they take on a new job. What's most important about a job is different for every individual. You need to set your own priorities so you can search for a position that offers you much of what you want, without forcing you to endure too many hardships or give up too much. Some considerations:
- How much money do you need to earn to support yourself and possibly your family? We all want a big paycheck, but what is the minimum you need to cover your bills?
- Do you need a job that offers health insurance? Perhaps you'd forgo a higher salary in exchange for this benefit.
- Are you only willing and available to work certain hours?
- Are you willing to travel for a job?
- Are there any jobs that you morally oppose? For example, perhaps you have had bad experiences with the effects of alcohol in the past, or someone close to you died in a drunk driving accident, or your religious convictions would dictate that working in a bar or liquor store would be a poor fit.
- Do you want to break into a certain industry? If you know what your dream job is, would you take a lower position in that industry to get on that track?
Create a list for yourself so that as you search for work, you can keep these priorities in the forefront of your mind. Here is an example:
What Must This Job Have? salary of $25,000 a year daytime hours
What Do I Want? health insurance benefits retirement benefits
What Don't I Want? work with pets night/weekend hours a desk job
When you read help wanted ads or consider applying for certain positions, you can refer to your list to make sure that the job you're considering will provide the essentials of what you need, hopefully some of what you want, and none of what you don't want.
Whether you're unhappy with the job you have now, or you're ready to embark on a new adventure by joining the working world, you can get a position that's right for you and your lifestyle.
Let's explore how you can learn what kinds of opportunities are out there waiting and how you can find them.
Copyright © 2007 by Luis Cortés Jr.
Chapter 1: What a Job Can Do for You
Chapter 2: Know Your Market
The Internet -- Classified Ads -- Employment Agencies -- Temp Agencies -- School Career Centers -- Career One-Stop -- Job Fairs -- Help Wanted Signs -- Networking -- The Yellow Pages
What Does This Job Mean? -- What Skills Do I Need? -- Good Qualities For Any Job
Chapter 3: Know Your Skills
College -- Trade School/Vocational School -- Community Education -- Internships
Chapter 4: Prepare Your Résumé
Contact Information -- Objective -- Career Summaries and Qualifications Summaries -- Work History -- Work History Concerns -- Key Skills -- Education/Training -- Other RÉsumÉ Additions To Consider
Chapter 5 The Cover Letter, Recommendation Letters, and Phone Calls
What a Cover Letter Can Do for You -- Cover Letter Dos -- Cover Letter Don'ts -- What Cover Letters Should Look Like
Chapter 6: Prepare for the Interview
Be On Time -- Don't Get Lost -- Make Contingency Plans -- Dress The Part -- The Nose Knows
Research -- Practice Interview Questions -- Legal And Illegal Interview Questions -- Be Calm
Chapter 7: Securing Your Victory
The Salary -- A Dollar Figure -- How Much Do You Want to Be Paid? -- Negotiate for Benefits -- Not Accepting a Job -- Health and Dental Insurance -- Retirement Benefits -- Paid Personal Days, Sick Days, Vacation Days, and Holidays -- Day Care Assistance -- Performance Reviews and Raises -- How Often Will I Be Paid? -- What Are All Your Benefits Worth?
Tax Paperwork -- Working In The United States -- Direct Deposit -- Life Insurance Benefits -- Health Insurance Benefits -- Retirement Benefits
Appendix A: List of Common Action Words to Use in Résumés and Cover Letters
Appendix B: W-4 Form
Appendix C: Employment Eligibility Forms
Appendix D: Direct Deposit Form
Posted January 18, 2010
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