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VOL. 35 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 14, 2011

Determine why you want the job

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Job seekers look for a job primarily for two reasons:

• Financial survival (to eat and put a roof over their heads) is certainly a big reason for many individuals.

• To improve one’s position through a higher-paying position or more-satisfying work.

Determining your primary purpose or goal should help establish what type of job you need now and how to go about getting it, resulting in fewer pitfalls during your search.

If you are out of work or about to be thrown out of your home because you are not making enough money for basic living expenses, you need to take a close look at your employment situation. Survival is probably your real goal, not a career job.

There are questions you need to ask yourself before beginning your search. Are you in a field that has plenty of opportunities? Are there barriers preventing you from finding employment quickly, such as local layoffs and an abundance of unemployed job seekers? Is it likely that you will find a job in a few weeks, a few months or much longer? How long can you go without a working income?

If you believe finding a job is going to take you a lot of time, setting up a short-term strategy to reduce financial pressure is probably your best approach. Take a look at what types of jobs are available in your community. Can you take a part-time position to earn at least some income? Can you work in another field that might pay less? Are there temporary positions available that fit your skills? Can you get a contract job?

In today’s economy, many employers are controlling costs by using contract or temporary labor. In many situations, these positions can lead to fulltime employment.

So, a short-term job can lead to a fulltime position.

At the very least you will be bringing home a paycheck. This will reduce the pressure and allow you to look for a fulltime position in your off time.

Also, consider going back to school to brush up on your skills or even to earn a degree in a more promising field – one you have always dreamed of.

In many cases, employers will assist with continuing education expenses. Take advantage of what is offered. Position yourself for a better future.

You may have to take the first position offered, even if it is not in your field.

If you have a job and are seeking a better situation, your search should be different.

Some employment surveys estimate at least 50 percent of U.S. employees would like to find another job. If you are one of these millions of employees, your approach to look for a job should be different from that of the unemployed. The pressure of day-to-day survival is much less of a factor.

There are questions you should ask yourself:

• Do you want to stay with the same employer or move elsewhere?

• Do you want to change fields?

If you are happy with your employer but not with your job, maybe finding a new job just means moving to another position with your current employer. It is not always necessary to find a job elsewhere.

If you want to move to another employer, watch the newspaper classifieds and employment Web sites, particularly the sites that specialize in your field. If you plan on moving up or shifting to another type of position in your field, take courses that will help you meet the requirements. Set up a strong resume and cover letter.

Whatever you situation, try to have a strategy to follow. It will help you focus on and accomplish your true goal of a better job.

M.B. Owens is a Nashville-based columnist and journalist with a decade of experience writing on employment topics and business.

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