First step job search:
Once you have located a possibly suitable vacancy, the first step which you will have to take towards being selected to fill it will depend on the source and on circumstances or on instructions contained in the advertisement, notice, etc. It is likely to be one of these:-
- An interview will be arranged for you by the careers officer or agency staff with the prospective employer; in most cases a prior interview, discussion or even test may be necessary with the careers officer or agency staff, during which an application from for the job may be completed.
- Interested persons are asked to telephone (probably a particular person) to arrange – possible – for an interview. Such a situation has to be handled with care, and so is dealt with at length below.
- Interested persons are asked to telephone or to write (again, probably to a specified person) for an application form which then has to be completed and returned. This situation will be discussed later in another post.
- Interested persons are asked to write (again, probably to a specific person) giving certain information about themselves. Application letters, as they are called, are dealt with fully later in another post.
- In some cases interested persons are asked to call at a specified place; advertisements/notices in shop windows may state ‘apply within’; applicants for ‘internal’ promotion/transfer may be instructed to contact a certain person or the personnel department.
- In the case of an introduction, the relative or friend may be able to arrange an interview for you with the executive concerned, or you may be asked to telephone him or her to arrange an interview.
In cases where you have located two or more possibly suitable vacancies worth pursuing at the same time, your ‘first step’ may be different for each vacancy.
What the first impression
First contact by telephone:
The person whom you will be required to contact may be an executive or an executive’s secretary or a member of the personnel department staff. Whoever it is, his or her task, initially, will be to arrange interviews only for those who seem – from the information provided and/or the impression given during the telephone conversation – to be likely candidates. Interviews are time-consuming and can be tiring for the interviewer(s), so there will be no desire to interview those who do not seem suitable or who create – in the mind of the listener – an unfavorable impression.
Particularly when jobs are scarce, there is a natural desire to telephone quickly, at the earliest opportunity – to be first, as it were (those who telephone late are, unless they sound particularly suitable, likely to be told that sufficient applications have been received, although their names and telephone numbers/addresses may be asked for). However, a few moments thought, and a few notes, can mean the difference between being invited for an interview and not. Jot down on a rough piece of paper the answers to questions which you are likely to be asked.
These may (as appropriate) include:-
- Your address and/or telephone number;
- Your age and/or date of birth;
- Your present occupation and/or position;
- If not employed, when did you leave school or college;
- Or how long it is since you last worked;
- Reason for leaving last employer; if employed,
- Why do you want to change and when would you be available;
- Your present salary;
- Details of education/training, experience, skills, etc.;
- Marital status, any children; and when you could call for an interview.
If, on the telephone, you hesitate in giving any answers, or are uncertain (i.e. as to the date you left school or last worked) you can create a poor impression on the listener, and possibly even lost the chance of being called for an interview.
- Do speak politely and clearly on the telephone. Remember, polite greetings – ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’, etc. – are important.
- Give you full name and, if necessary, spell it out.
- Answer questions fully but to the point; do not ramble on, do not give irrelevant information not asked for;
- Do not interrupt the other person. This gives a bad impression.
- Keep calm and polite at all times, even if you are disappointed because, for instance, you telephoned too late. You never know, those first called for interviews may prove unsuitable, or another, similar vacancy at the same organization may arise, and those concerned may have to look through their notes about others who telephoned – if you did not remain polite – did not say ‘thank you’ at the end of the conversation, for instance – you are unlikely to be contacted again.
You may not be the first to telephone, and probably will not be the last, so remember that the person at the other end of the line may be becoming tired – if not bored – with asking the same questions.
If you can ‘project’ yourself as being someone a little out of the ordinary, better than or different from, other callers, you may attract attention, arouse interest and be invited to attend an interview.
It may not be easy to do so, and much will depend on you and on the person to whom you are speaking, but if you can do so, it may be well worthwhile.
Do be flexible; if you are asked to call for an interview at a specific time, do try to accept it, even if you may have to make special arrangements or change arrangements. If you ‘appear’ to be awkward, the listener will quickly lose interest in you. If you are invited to attend an interview, do be certain that you know exactly where it is to be held, not only the street and building but the room number and so on; do not be shy to ask for directions to be repeated – it is better to be safe than sorry! And do note down the details and the date and time of the interview and the name of the person you have to see; again, it is safer not to rely on memory alone.
Preparing for interviews and how to act during them – both most important topics – are dealt with at length in another post.