The very first job I got out of social work graduate school wasn’t advertised. I walked into the local adoption agency and let them know I was available. Later when I wanted to work from home, I contacted adoption agencies all over my state with a resume and cover letter. The one that hired me wasn’t advertising for a social worker.
The truth is, many if not most jobs are obtained through either networking or being proactive in approaching employers. Job opportunities are everywhere, and many of them aren’t posted online or in the newspaper. Why? There are many reasons. Perhaps they’re just thinking about hiring and haven’t yet gotten far enough into the process to advertise. Or maybe they’re so overwhelmed, they can’t get it together to advertise and interview. Or they want help, but don’t want the hassle and expense of a new employee. With a little gumption, you can step in at the right time and snap up one of these opportunities. Here’s how:
1) Create a quality resume that outlines your skills and experience. Remember, a resume is a marketing document, not just a list of stuff you can do. So write it with the employer in mind, using strong benefits-oriented language.
2) Identify businesses, agencies and organizations that can use your skills and experience. Use your Yellow Pages and the Internet to find possible resources. Don’t forget to consider opportunities outside your normal industry. For example, I’m a social worker by training and worked in adoption, which made contacting adoption agencies a no-brainer. But many other organizations can use social workers with experience working with kids and families such as community mental or public health and schools. Because you’ll be working from home, you can expand your search to include cities all through out your state. The job I got as an adoption social worker was in a city three hours away from me (it’s not in another state!).
3) Tailor your resume in #1 to fit each of the business or organizations you’ve identified in #2. The more you can appeal to a potential employer, the better. If you want to be a virtual assistant for a Realtor, match your skills and experience with the duties a Realtor needs.
4) Include a cover letter indicating what you can offer and employer by working at home, such as reduced drain on resources and overhead costs, and if you’re willing to work on a 1099 basis, reduced employee expenses. When it comes to working at home, the key motivator for employers is saving money. So focus on that!
5) Mail, by snail mail, your resume and cover letter to the businesses and organizations you identified in #2.
6) Follow up with a phone call a week later. Businesses are busy and may put your letter on the back burner. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested though. When you call, tell them who you are and ask if they got your resume. “Hi, my name is Leslie Truex and I wanted to check to see if you received the the resume I sent last week about how I can help you work with adoptive parents and birth parents in the Central Virginia area.”
Many business will say ‘no’, but you only need one to say yes.
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