Thursday, January 22, 2009

Applying for Jobs Online - Be Prepared

With the economy in free fall, we are seeing more patrons using the library computers to create or update a resume, brush up on job skills and fill out online job applications. Some of our patrons are having a hard time with filling out the online applications in a timely manner, mainly because their previous job(s) did not require extensive computer/keyboarding skills, familiarity with using the Internet or they've been out of the workforce for some time.

In order to assist patrons who need to apply for online for local jobs (i.e., the Warrenton area), I am putting together a list of links to local businesses who have an ongoing need for "non-professional" or non-salaried employees and that don't require advanced education or specialized skills. Examples would be grocery stores and "big box" retailers like Home Depot. I will be posting links to these online job applications in the coming weeks, along with any information an applicant might need to know before beginning the online application process.

In order to maximize one's time filling out these forms, applicants should prepare the following BEFORE logging on to/filling out the online application:

  1. Create an e-mail address. Most if not all online job sites require an e-mail address in order to communicate with the applicant. You can get a free e-mail address from any number of providers, including AOL, Google and Yahoo. If you are unsure how to do this, ask a reference librarian for assistance or sign up for week 2 of the computer classes for adults that the library offers. After you create the e-mail address, be sure to put your username and password, which you will use to access your e-mail account, in a safe place. If you don't have that information memorized, be sure to bring it with you to the library when you go to fill out your job application. Also be sure to check your e-mail regularly in case a potential employer tries to contact you.

  2. Clearly document your education and job experience. This includes, but is not limited to the contact information (address, telephone) of the educational institutions you attended as well as the employers you worked for. If possible, get the correct name/contact person who you worked for. You should have information for your past 3 jobs/employers, if applicable.

  3. Have contact information (name, address, telephone, etc.) of at least 3 people you can use as a personal and/or professional reference. These should be individuals who can speak to your work ethic and provide examples/reasons why you would be a good employee. Make sure you contact your references prior to providing their names to a potential employer so that they are prepared to speak to your skills and abilities.

  4. Ideally, you should also have an electronic version of your resume and references available either on a USB flash drive or stored (and easily accessible) on a site such as Google Documents. Some employers ask that you submit/send an electronic copy of your resume, along with the online application. It also speeds things up if you can copy information from your electronic resume and paste it into the online application. If you are in the process of creating your resume, be sure to check out resources available at the library and take advantage of the resume templates built in to Microsoft Word, also available on the library public computers.

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