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The Basics of a Job Search

Posted by Elaine Varelas  April 17, 2013 10:00 AM

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Q. I am interested in finding work in Boston and was wondering what jobs you would suggest I look for as an English undergraduate with limited job experience. I am currently unemployed and looking to move to the Greater Boston area with an easy commute. Please get back to me as soon as possible.

A. Many job seekers approach the job search just as you are, with little focus on what they want, and even less focus on what they have to offer. Before you start getting frustrated with the hiring process, take the time to step back and develop a strategic approach to the job search. A liberal arts education can be very valuable when presented to hiring managers in the right way.

Focus. Focus on any one thing. You can't run a successful job search if you're looking at any job; in any industry; in any position; with an easy commute. Pick an industry and a position that requires the skills you consider valuable.

Identify your skills.
Who would want to hire you? As an English major, assess whether you have good writing or presentational skills, analytical skills, organizational abilities, data entry skills or any others that organizations have a need for. You have limited experience, but at least you have some! Look at organizations that you are familiar with - maybe a college or university. Identify the environments you have had some experience with and build a list of similar firms.

Resume. Your resume must answer the question, 'What can this potential employee do for me?' If it doesn't, keep working on it. Your resume must show responsibility, dedication and a skill set that can translate into work that needs to be done.

Communicate. Talk to people about what you can do in the work place. Let everyone you know you are eager to find a job using the skills you have identified. Post this on your LinkedIn page, your professional looking Facebook page and start networking. Not only will you be building your professional brand, but this will help develop and improve your interview skills as well.

It's all About the Employer.
Do not focus on your desire for an easy commute, this does not promote the impression of a hard worker interested in a great job opportunity. It may be important to you, but leave that part out of your search until you have an offer. After an offer, you can decide if the location meets your criteria. In all interviews, tell the potential employer what you can do for them.

Time and Numbers.
The job search takes time and a number of people, opportunities, connections and rejections before it all works out. Typically it is not fast, and I encourage you to dedicate yourself to the process.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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From looking for a job to dealing with the one you have, our Job Docs are here to answer your employment-related questions.

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Meet the Jobs Docs

Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.