Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
Can you give me some job hunting and interviewing tips? I am a few
years out of college. While I have been busy cobbling together lots of
part-time jobs, I have not yet scored the kind of full-time job that will
lead to a real career. I was an American studies major and thought
about going to law school, or getting a teaching degree, but decided I
should get some real world experience first. I’ve been doing a variety
of jobs dealing with at-risk youth, first through my mother (an
attorney) who hired me to do interviews with families in the judicial
system and then write up progress notes. I got work doing skills
training with dropouts, and then on-call work as a probation officer. I
also volunteer at a crisis line. I’m clearer and clearer that I am really
interested in working with at-risk youth, and, more importantly, that I
am really good at it. Kids like me and seem to trust me. Tips? Ideas? A
job you can hand me?
Nothing substitutes for a good resume. The other suggestions I will
make can augment that, but unless you have a piece of paper that
shows off all your experience and skills, you are unlikely to get hired.
In your case, organizing it by skill set rather than a list of jobs will
serve you best. Think about categories of work you have done: case
management, crisis intervention, interviewing and report writing, etc.
Summarize your experience in each category, and don’t forget to
include computer and office skills as a category. Then list your
professional experience chronologically in a separate grouping. If you
have other jobs (e.g. summers working as yard helper or at a food
booth), list those separately. Collect letters of reference from any
professional person whose title and organization will help you get the
job you want.
Scope out any agency or employer you think is likely to have work.
Call the HR director and ask for an informational interview. Say you’ll
come any time s/he would see you. Track all openings and apply for
everything. If you can get a foot in the door, for a meeting or an
interview, be ready to sound like a veteran, and yet still enthusiastic
and unjaded. Think about stories you want to tell about what you’ve
done. For every category, practice telling them so they are pithy,
engaging, and show you off well. Have two stories, one for your first
interview and one for the second. Most of all, stress your aptitude for
and success relating to this population. Say this is what you want to do
and that you’ll do a great job for whomever gives you the break.