Are you looking for a job over the summer – or helping a young student enter the employment market?
Finding work doesn’t have to be a passive process. Instead of checking classified ads or online job boards and waiting for the perfect job to appear, you can take a more active role and improve your odds of success. And the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone.
There is plenty of help available for job seekers, or for anyone negotiating the world of work. Looking for some guidance in your job search? Trying to decide which career is best for you? Employment professionals can help you find the answers. They can help you find work that you will enjoy, and that uses your talents and skills.
There are a range of employment professionals out there. Check out some specialties and what they have to offer.
Community Employment Centers
Some employment centers offer one-to-one employment counseling, pre-employment training, career exploration and job placements, to name just a few possibilities.
“Through our employment counseling, we’ll work with you to figure out what you want to do. For example, it you want to go into nursing, we’ll tell you about the steps you need to take. If you want to go into a specific apprenticeship program, we’ll tell you what the requirements are,” says Lorenzo Vaglica. He is the general manager of employment services at a YMCA.
Most employment centers offer free workshops, resume critiques, use of computers, photocopiers, and fax machines and a career resource library — everything job seekers need to further their search.
Some employment centers offer an even broader range of services. Some might even offer training options for specific fields. Visit a few of them, and find out which ones offer the specific services you require.
If you’re not aware of any employment centers in your area, do a Google search using key words such as “employment center” or “employment resources.” Or try the yellow pages, looking under listings such as “employment services” or “employment agency.”
If you still have difficulty locating an employment center near you, ask your school counselor for recommendations. Some employment centers give talks to nearby schools. Others inform school counselors about their services, particularly if their services are aimed at young adults.
Recruitment and Staffing Agencies
There are thousands of recruitment and staffing agencies across the U.S. When choosing a recruitment agency, consider whether the agency carries jobs in your field (e.g. health services, IT services), and whether the agency has a solid employer base. An agency that has a solid employer base could carry numerous job listings in your field.
“Generally, if an agency has more branches in your area, it has a higher visibility, and therefore, has more clients (employers),” says David Toste. He is branch manager of the San Jose office of Adecco, an international recruitment agency.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that recruiters are waiting to hand you a job. You’ll have to do your part, as well. “You should treat your meeting with a recruiter as if you were going to a job interview,” says Toste.
“Our reputation [as a company] depends on the kind of candidates we work with,” he adds.
So, act as if you’re meeting directly with an employer. Dress professionally, be punctual, act courteous. Your goal should be to make a positive impression.
Some recruitment agencies test candidates on their typing skills, reading comprehension or computer knowledge before deciding whether they want to work with that candidate.
Most agencies offer temporary staffing jobs, permanent jobs or both. Temporary jobs are temporary or part-time positions. For these roles, it’s the agency that actually hires you. Then they send you out to their clients to perform the work. The agency is the one that pays you.
“If you consider a staffing position, you ought to look at the agency’s benefits to see if they have medical coverage or sick leave,” says Toste. “Some staffing agencies even provide training.”
Although most people look for permanent roles, a temporary staffing role might be preferable in some circumstances. Because these roles are temporary, employers may not require a candidate to carry all the necessary qualifications and skills.
“Choosing a staffing role is a great way to break into a new field, and it can sometimes turn into a full-time role if you get to know your employers well and can prove yourself,” says Toste.
Some recruitment agencies specialize in certain fields such as health services, information technology or manufacturing. The advantage of choosing a specialist agency that should have an extensive employer network in its field. But this doesn’t mean you should dismiss generalist agencies.
“We offer jobs in technology, hospitality, transportation, finance — everything under the sun” says Toste. “And the advantage of choosing a generalist agency is that we may offer you something that’s not necessarily in your field, but might be a good match. So you’re getting more options.”
What if you’re unsure about the kind of work you want to do? You may consider seeing a career counselor.
Career counselors use a variety of assessment tools, such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, and the Holland Self-Directed Search. These tests might sound complicated, but they all do one thing: they assess your abilities, personality type, interests, skills and behavioral traits. Some assessments focus more on skills, others on personality, interests and so on.
A career counselor can help you review and interpret your assessment results. If you’ve just graduated from high school, a counselor may involve your parents in this process. After assessing the results, a counselor will help you create an action plan to steer you towards the right career path.
Counselors can also coach you on interview skills, help you revise your resume, or teach you job search strategies.
“A lot of people spend their time locked away in front of a computer as a primary method of searching for work. A more effective way is to utilize your network,” says Doug Schmidt. He is a career counselor who holds a doctoral degree in education and has his own private practice
Your network includes your friends, relatives, past employers, colleagues, sports team and professional association — basically everyone you know. A counselor can help you see how these people can help you in your quest.
Counselor fees can vary, but the range is generally $125 to $150 per hour. The costs of some of the assessments are additional, and the number of counselor sessions can range on average from four to six sessions.
“I’ve had clients who’ve just needed two sessions, but that’s rare,” says Schmidt. “A person should budget at least $700.”
Making it Work
The important thing is to find an employment professional you feel comfortable working with. In his practice, career counselor Schmidt says, “The relationship is very important. People have to feel comfortable because we really go in-depth into a lot of different areas of their life.”
Schmidt’s advice applies whether you’re working with an employment center, recruitment agency or a career counselor. There are no guarantees in finding the right work, but you can increase your odds by asking lots of questions, being honest in your answers and staying open to different options.
Chances are that there’s at least one employment center near your community. Almost all centers are nonprofit and government-funded. That usually means their services are free. Most are staffed by job specialists who can help you find work.