Employment development workers understand the challenge of transforming youth into employable adults. As a student of the ever-changing job market, I have learned a few things that could be of use to the current job-seeker.
Employers evaluate potential applicants on three criteria before even considering them for the job: What they read about you, what they see and what they hear from you. In other words, your paperwork, your presence and your presentation all need to be impressive. If any of those three areas are not right, then you will fall short.
First is what they read about you – your paperwork must be in order. That means you need to have the basic credentials, such as a polished resume, a cover letter and qualifying documentation.
Depending on the position, this would include documents such as a high school diploma, a college degree, a driver’s license, a food-handlers license and a guard card or a certification, to name a few. Also, supplemental documents as in a letter of recommendation, a well-written cover letter, a list of references or a portfolio of your work.
A not-so-good look from the employer’s perspective would be things that would come up in a background check such as a criminal record, low scores on an entry exam or an inconsistent work history. If you look good on paper, you increase the likelihood of moving on to the next step in the recruitment process.
Second is what they see – your personal presence is vital. Let’s remember that we live in a very superficial society and employers are not immune to human imperfection. They too, will judge you on your appearance.
If you look good on paper yet show up in unprofessional attire, in most cases you will have lost favor in the eyes of the employer. It doesn’t matter how well-qualified or educated you are, if you show up looking raggedy, it’s all for naught. Due to modern fashion trends, people have done extreme things to their personal appearance that have become an employment barrier. The message to youth job-seekers is that they should care more about their professional image instead of their social image.
The final criteria is what they hear from you – you must be able to sell your product. The product you are selling is you: your education, training, work ethic and technical skills.
Professional communication skills for job-seekers is a must. If you speak well, you will do well in any environment. Having a healthy vocabulary and a good hold on the English language is a valuable tool for those seeking employment. Quite often, the candidate with the best communication skills with beat out the applicant with more qualifications and credentials. Learn how to use the proper words and phrases that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
Skilled communicators can make anything sound good. My young son’s job at home is to take out the trash every day. We don’t call him garbage boy, his title is “head of domestic disposal.”
If anyone has taken the time to invest in themselves by improving in all three of these areas, I am confident that they will be impressive enough to find employment very soon. Being polished and professional on paper, in person and in your presentation makes you an ideal candidate in today’s competitive job market.