The Ultimate Career Advice Site

Looking For a Job- Proactively


On my way home yesterday I stopped off at a local shop to get a few bits and pieces. It was one of those many newsagents or newsagent-deli type shops that you see on almost every street in every town and city I the country.  As I waited in a small queue of three, a young lady walked past us all, went directly to the guy at the counter and said quite clearly;

‘Is the boss around?’

No said the cashier to which she handed him two A4 pages adding ’this is my CV would you give it to him please and I’ll call back tomorrow.

Hearing the word CV my ears pricked up, the radar switched on and I clicked into job search section of my brain which had been half asleep up to that moment.

Ho hum, I thought, let’s take this situation apart and be an armchair critic for this young lady.  There were just so many things that were all wrong going on here. This person clearly hadn’t given much thought to what she was doing or how she was going about it.

First and foremost, I suspect that unconsciously she was excusing herself from having to make any effort; ‘I’m just a student and that’s why I look like I do. I’m just typical, so what do you expect from a student, would probably be her attitude, if asked.

I would also suspect she had a lot of things going on insofar as she came and went like a bolt of lightening. She was in a hurry for some reason.  My guess was she had about a hundred CVs in her backpack and one way or the other she was going to drop them off in every premises that had an open door from there to wherever she lived.

Will she get a job? Or not ….. Well the answer is I don’t know, she may well do but I suspect not.  With just a very little thought and a tiny bit of effort she could probably quadruple her chances.

It’s about this time of year that many students are arriving in towns and cities in readiness for starting college. These towns are strange to those on their first year, and they don’t know what or where to start a job search for a part-time job to generate some extra income needed in the light of high cost of accommodation. It’s a common reaction for students to gravitate to bars, restaurants and 24 hour stores as they are open and busy on weekends and after 5.00 pm when college is over. However there are, any amount of other potential employers around the place if you give it some thought.

First and as always, your first task is to get a good, sharp, business-like CV.  I say again and again, its only purpose is to get you an interview. So short, concise, informative is the order of the day.  If you’re unhappy about the state of your CV get advice or better still, get professional help, it will be worth it in the long run.

Assuming your CV is in cracking order, log on to a job board submit your details, refresh your alerts and you might be surprised with the notifications you may get.

Having done that and if you will be living in a smaller town or city suburb find a copy of the local free weekly newspaper.  Every town and village has one.  They are packed with adverts of businesses and services in your area and are all potential; employers. They don’t advertise jobs but are a good guide to the local business around the place and might offer some part time work.  The good thing about these adverts is they give the address, contact name, e-mail and telephone number.

Use your personal contacts. Think of people who you know or have met and take the opportunity to talk to them and ….. Ask their advice.  This means, stopping people you know, telling them who you are and what you can do and ask their advice, don’t ask for a job.  Asking their advice is, in a sense a compliment.  You have gone to them for advice and will be complimented. If they have any suggestions they will tell you. Also if, in the course of conversation with others the following day/week/month they will remember you if the subject of help arise. Don’t think of this as a silly long-shot.  It’s definitely not. More jobs are filled through personal contacts than through any other route.

So, back to the student in the newsagents.  Regardless of her circumstances, the basic fact was, she is looking for work and therefore will be meeting potential employers here there and everywhere. If presenting yourself for a job you have got to sell yourself before anything. That means being well turned out. This girl in the newsagents was in jeans ripped across the knees.  She had a camouflage style T-shirt that was well worn with a faded message on the back making comment on the environment.  Her runners were beyond redemption.

No matter who or where you are when approaching a potential employer, especially in the service industry, where you will be face to face with the public you need to be well groomed and squeaky clean. Think what the employer will want. They will want someone who will represent them well in their shop/store/reception/bar or other. Don’t assume that they will assume that you will look any differently in the workplace.

Do not hand your CV to an assistant working in a store if the boss is away. You can be guaranteed that before you get as far as the door your CV will be folded in two and shoved in among others brochures and flyers at the side of the till that all arrived during the course of the day.  There it will lie there for days.

Ask when the boss will be in, ask his/her name and call back at that time. When you return arrive reasonably well attired and importantly do not arrive fatigued and in a hurry, hot sweaty and confused. Have referees written out on a separate page so you can produce it if asked.  This is important if you are applying for a role where cash is handled.

Ask for them by name, introduce yourself with a smile and state your business. Like our friend that I referred to earlier, it is also important to give your CV some thought and word and display it in a pleasant, easy to read fashion.


Further information about the author, Colm Cavey can be seen below and also at:

Good Luck

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