How Can I Get (and Keep!) a Job?
A SURVEY, published in Senior Scholastic magazine, asked some American high school seniors to rate which life goals they considered “very important.” Eighty-four percent responded: “Being able to find steady work.”
Perhaps you are interested in an afterschool job to help out with personal or household expenses. Or you may be seeking part-time employment in order to support yourself as a full-time evangelizer. (See Chapter 22.) In any event, worldwide inflation and limited demand for unskilled workers have made jobs hard to come by if you are a youth. How, then, can you make a smooth entry into the job market?
School—A Job-Training Ground
Cleveland Jones, an employment recruiter with many years of experience, offers this advice: “Get a good high school education. I cannot stress enough the importance of learning to read and write and speak properly. Learn proper decorum as well, so you can handle people in the working world.”
A bus driver must be able to read timetables for arrivals and departures. Factory workers need to know how to fill out job-completion tickets or similar reports. Salesclerks are expected to do computations. In almost every type of job, communication skills are needed. These are skills you can master in school.
Persistence Pays Off
“Never give up if you are out of school and looking for a job,” says Jones. “Do not go out on two or three interviews, then go home and sit and wait. You will never get called for a job that way.” Young Sal looked for a job for seven months before he was hired. “I would tell myself: ‘My job is to find a job,’” explains Sal. “I would spend eight hours a day each weekday for seven months looking for a job. I would start early each morning and ‘work’ till four o’clock in the afternoon. Many nights my feet would be sore. The next morning I would have to ‘psych myself up’ to start looking again.”
What kept Sal from quitting? “Every time I was in a personnel office,” he answers, “I would remember what Jesus said: ‘Exert yourselves vigorously.’ I would keep thinking that one day I will be working and that this bad time would pass.”—Luke 13:24.
Where to Find Jobs
If you live in a rural area, your job search could start with local farms and orchards, or you can look for some type of yard work. If you live in a large town or city, try looking in the newspaper help-wanted ads. These ads give clues as to what qualifications are needed for a certain job and can help you to explain to the employer why you can fill those needs. Parents, teachers, employment agencies, personnel offices, friends, and neighbors are other sources you can tap.
Keeping Your Job
Unfortunately, when economic pressures create unemployment, employed youths are usually among the first to be fired. But this need not happen to you. “People who retain jobs are people who are willing to work and who show a willing attitude to do whatever the employer asks,” says Mr. Jones.
Your attitude is your state of mind—how you feel about your job as well as the people you work for and work with. Your attitude will be reflected in the quality of work you do. Your boss will judge your worth on the basis of not only your work output but also your attitude.
“Let your employer see that not only can you follow instructions but you can do more than what is required without constant supervision,” continues Jones. “Because in a tight labor market, the workers who remain are not necessarily those who have been there the longest, but those who produce.”
Sal found this to be true. He says: “I always tried to accommodate my employer. I was willing to bend my schedule when necessary, follow instructions and be respectful to my supervisors.” This reminds one of the Bible’s exhortation “to obey your human masters, not with the idea of catching their eye or currying favour, but as a sincere expression of your devotion to the Lord.”—Colossians 3:22, Phillips.
If you are new on the job, fear is a common emotion for the first few days. You may wonder: ‘Will they like me? Can I do the job? Will they like my work? I hope I will not look stupid.’ Here you need to be careful, or your fears will nibble away at your positive outlook.
You can quicken your adjustment and calm your nerves by learning more about the company. Look, listen, and read. At the proper time ask your supervisor reasonable questions about your job and your performance—it will not make you look foolish. Ask yourself, ‘How does my job fit in with my department, with the overall company objective?’ The answers can help you to develop good work habits and job satisfaction.
Get Along With Coworkers
All jobs ultimately involve dealing with other people. Knowing how to maintain good relations with others is thus essential to keeping a job. “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.” (Romans 12:18) Doing so can help you avoid needless bickering or heated confrontations on the job.
Sometimes the people you work with have backgrounds and personalities quite different from yours. But do not think that someone is inferior because he is different. Respect his right to be different. No person likes to be treated with lack of respect; it makes him feel as if he is a nobody. Everyone likes to feel he is wanted and needed—a somebody. Win the respect of your fellow employees and employer by treating them with respect.
“It’s a bad pitfall,” says Sal, “because gossip could give you a poor impression of the boss or others.” The grapevine is not the best source of information, and it may result in sour grapes for you. The rumors growing on the grapevine are usually gross exaggerations that can damage the reputation of others—as well as your own reputation. Therefore, smother the urge to gossip.
Remember, too, that no one likes a complainer. If something is bothering you on the job, don’t broadcast it through the grapevine. Go and talk to your supervisor. Do not, however, burst into his office in a heat of rage and be sorry later for rash words. Also, avoid the snare of personal attacks. Keep to the facts. Be as clear and honest as you can be in describing the problem. Maybe you could begin with an opening statement such as, ‘I need your help . . . ’ or, ‘I may be wrong, but I feel this way about . . . ’
Punctuality Is Important
Two big reasons why people fail to keep a job are being late for work and missing days from work. An employment and training director for a large industrial city said about young workers: “They need to learn to get up in the morning, to learn how to take orders. If they never learn these things, it just perpetuates the unemployment syndrome.”
Sal learned the lesson of punctuality the hard way. “I lost my first job after just three months because of tardiness,” he sighs, “and this made it more difficult to find other jobs.”
The Value of Honesty
Says employment recruiter Jones: “Honesty will help a person keep the job.” Being honest includes avoiding not only the stealing of material things but also the stealing of time by taking excessive breaks. An honest employee is valued and trusted. For example, one young witness of Jehovah who worked at an exclusive clothing store had a reputation for honesty.
“One day,” he recalls, “the manager found an item in the stockroom, hidden inside some other clothing. One of the workers was stealing from the store. At closing time I went upstairs to the manager’s office and to my surprise all the employees were there. All the employees were kept there to be searched. I was the only employee excused from the search.”
Many Christian youths have had similar experiences and have become valued employees. Work hard, then, at finding work. Be persistent. Do not give up. And when you find that job you’ve looked for so hard, work hard to keep it!
Questions for Discussion
◻ How can your schoolwork affect your ability to find a job?
◻ Why is it important to be persistent when job hunting?
◻ What are some places to look and people to consult when seeking employment?
◻ What are some tips for handling a job interview?
◻ What can you do to protect yourself from being fired?
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“I cannot stress enough the importance of learning to read and write and speak properly”
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“I would tell myself: ‘My job is to find a job’”
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Handling Job Interviews
“Before going on a job interview, remember, first impressions are lasting impressions,” advises job counselor Cleveland Jones. He cautions against wearing jeans and sneakers to an interview and stresses the need to be clean and neat. Employers often conclude that the way a person dresses is the way the person will work.
When applying for an office job, dress as a business person dresses. When applying for a factory job, wear slacks and a shirt that are clean and pressed, along with neat-looking shoes. If you are a woman, dress modestly and use cosmetics sparingly. And if applying for an office job, wear hose and dress shoes to complement a conservative outfit.
Always go alone to a job interview, cautions Jones. If you bring your mother or friends with you to the interview, the employer may conclude that you are immature.
‘Suppose the employer asks me if I have had prior work experience, how do I answer?’ you may wonder. Do not bluff. Employers often see through exaggeration. Be honest.
You may not realize it, but you have likely had prior work experience even if you are hunting for your first “real” job. Did you ever have a summer job? Or did you ever baby-sit? Did you have a regular work assignment in your home caring for family chores? Were you given the responsibility to take care of certain duties at your place of worship? Have you ever had training in public speaking? If so, then these things could be mentioned at the interview or listed in your résumé to show that you can handle responsibility.
Another important concern of employers is how interested you are in their company and the job being offered. You must convince them that you want to do the work and can do it. The “what’s-in-it-for-me” attitude will quickly turn off the interviewer’s interest in you.
Applying for and getting a full- or part-time job is a challenge that you can meet successfully. And when that job is used as a tool to help others, not just yourself, satisfaction becomes a fringe benefit.
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What to Do During the Job Interview
Be grown-up, businesslike. Greet employer with proper respect. Call him “Mr.”—not “Jack,” “Buddy,” or “Pal.”
Sit up straight in chair, feet firmly on floor; look alert. Advance planning will help you to be calm, poised, and at ease.
Think before answering a question. Be polite, accurate, honest, and frank. Give full information. Do not brag.
Have a guide sheet with you, listing all your jobs, dates of work, wages, kinds of work you did, reasons you left.
Be ready to show how your training and work experience will help you to get ahead on job you are asking for.
For references, give the names (and complete addresses) of three reliable people who know you and your work.
Be confident, enthusiastic, but do not bluff. Use good English and speak distinctly. Do not talk too much.
Listen carefully; be polite and tactful. Above all, do not get into any arguments with your prospective employer.
The employer is interested only in how well you will fit the job. Do not mention personal, home, or money problems.
If it seems you will not get the job, seek employer’s advice about other jobs that may come up with the firm.
Send employer brief thank-you letter immediately after interview.*
Source: New York State Employment Service Office brochure How to “Sell Yourself” to an Employer.
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The skills you learn in school may one day prove valuable on a job