How to Get a Job
Whether you're looking for your very first job, switching careers, or re-entering the
job market after an extended absence, finding a job whittles down to two main tasks:
understanding yourself and understanding the job market. Presuming you've already chosen a
career and are currently searching for jobs, here are several ways to actually get a
1. Network. The best companies to work for tend to rely heavily (up to 40 percent) on
employee referrals. Make a list of all of your friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Call
each one and ask them if they know of any openings that they could recommend you for. Don't
be too humble or apologetic; tell them what you've been looking for, but let them know that
you're flexible and that if they have any suggestions, you're open to them. This is not
the time to be picky about jobs; a connection can often get your foot in the door, and you
can negotiate pay or switch positions later, once you've gained experience and established
2. Volunteer. If you aren't already, start volunteering for an organization that
focuses on something that you're passionate about. You may end up doing boring or easy
work in the beginning, but as you stick around and demonstrate your commitment, you'll be
given more responsibilities. Not only will you be helping others, but you'll also be
gaining references. You should emphasize your volunteer experience on your resume, as
companies that treat their employees well tend to favor candidates who help the community somehow.
3. Develop your personal elevator pitch. Many structured interviews, particularly those
at large companies, start with a question like "tell me about yourself." The interviewer
doesn't really want you to go back to grade school and talk about your childhood. This is
a specific question with a specific answer ... in two minutes or so, the interviewer wants
to get you to relax and loosen out your vocal cords, understand your background, your
accomplishments, why you want to work at XYZ company and what your future goals are.
4. Prepare for a behavioral interview. You might be asked to describe problems you've
encountered in the past and how you handled them, or you'll be given a hypothetical
situation and asked what you would do. They'll basically want to know how you'll perform
when faced with obstacles in the position you're interviewing for.
Be able to give honest, detailed examples from your past, even if the question is
hypothetical (e.g. "I would contact the customer directly, based on my past experience
in a different situation in which the customer was very pleased to receive a phone call
from the supervisor"). You might find yourself listing facts - if so, remember that in
this kind of interview, you need to tell a story. Some questions you might be asked are:
• "Describe a time you had to work with someone you didn't like."
• "Tell me about a time when you had to stick by a decision you had made, even though
it made you very unpopular."
• "Give us an example of something particularly innovative that you have done that made
a difference in the workplace."
• "How would you handle an employee who's consistently late?"