Tools for Finding Employment: Utilizing Job Leads
Now that you have your list of job leads ordered based on your interest, it’s time to follow up. Following job leads takes tact, poise, patience, and persistence. During this process you may feel like you are traveling through a maze where you have to explore many paths until you find the one that leads you to the other side. It might take some time, but remember: the right path could be the start of a career!
Preparation is the key to success. It’s time to research each job lead you have. The idea is to have as much information as possible before contacting the employer so that you can make a good first impression. Take good notes and keep these notes organized. All of this information can be useful if you get an interview.
If you found the lead through a contact, gather as much information from the contact as possible, while still being polite. Remember to thank your contacts!
Once you know which business has the lead, research the business before you contact them:
- Explore the business web site.
- Find out about the products or services they offer.
- Do a general search for the business on the Web—you will likely find a variety of information available on the Internet.
- Find any current news articles that mention the business and read them. It’s important to be up-to-date with the business’ current issues.
- Find out who the business’ major competitors are and a little about them. You just want to know some basics.
- Search the Internet to see if there are any current trends or major happenings in the field or market in which the business operates.
- Practice what you will say by role playing with a friend, sibling, or parent.
Once you have done your research, contact the business and follow up on the job lead.
- Always note the people who you meet at an organization whether via phone, e-mail, or in person (this is a skill that translates to many parts of your life).
- Write thank you notes to anyone who helps you with this process.
- Be polite when speaking to anyone. Proper manners go a long way when trying to create new opportunities.
- Be persistent when pursuing a job lead, but not overly aggressive. You want them to know that you are eager to work for them, but you don’t want them to feel harassed.
- Find out who their human resources/personnel contact is.
- Find out how or where they post their job openings and how their postings can be accessed.
- Find out how often they post their job openings.
- Ask about their application process.
- Find out if they keep applications on file for the future.
- Find out how long they keep applications on file before tossing them.
Most people, no matter their level of experience, are a little nervous when contacting potential employers. Following up on job leads can be an intimidating process, but you will become more confident with practice.
The Job Seeker’s Toolkit
This article is based on the AFB Job Seeker’s Toolkit, a free, self-paced, comprehensive, and accessible guide to the employment process. Set up a My CareerConnect account to get started with the Toolkit—it’s an easy and fast process that will give you access to many helpful job hunting resources!
This article and The Job Seeker’s Toolkit are based on the 2nd edition of The Transition Tote System, by Karen Wolffe and Debbie Johnson (1997, American Printing House for the Blind).