Landing the position in an intimidating job market

Richard Kelly

With unemployment rates for the state of Kansas at 4.8 percent and no turnaround in sight, finding a job and retaining it is becoming increasingly difficult, but there are several ways to avoid unemployment.

Knowing where to look for a job is a big first step. The Topeka Workforce Center and the Kansas State of Unemployment office are two tools that can be used to find an occupation. Of course, some fields pay less than others, but they can give people a bit more stability while they search for a more ideal job.

“One of the biggest needs in Kansas is actually a job as a hostess or a waiter or waitress,” said Megan Ingmire, director of communications at the Kansas State of Unemployment office. “The healthcare field has an amazingly high demand as well and should see that continuing to increase over the next five to 10 years.”

For most part-time working students, finding a job isn’t specifically about finding something within their field of study. It’s often about advancing their skills and developing good ethics. Not every employer is the same, but most share a few universal sets of work ethics.

“We’re looking for people who give 100 percent,” said Heather Johanning, a Human Resources Recruiter at The Topeka Capital-Journal. “If you’re loyal and are going to show up on time with the right attitude and are willing to learn, we’re very open to giving people opportunities. ”

If experience isn’t the strong point of a resume being sent in to an employer, there are still some ways to sell the interview. Many employers will give applicants a chance at being hired even if their expertise is lacking in the position to which they’re applying. Many employers will agree that the key to being a good employee is an open-mind and willingness to learn. It doesn’t hurt to do a little research about the company prior to the interview, either.

“When I get someone who comes in and wants a job, the first thing I ask them is what they know about our company,” said Ruth Marstall, a recruiter at Westar Energy in Topeka. “If someone comes in a for a job interview, they should always read about the company online first, so they have a little more understanding.”

While businesses deal with the current economic crisis, some are in the process of letting employees go, which creates a nerve-wracking situation for any worker trying to retain a job. Many workers end up asking themselves “what can I do to make sure I keep my job?” Unfortunately in some cases, even the most qualified person for a job will be laid off.

“If the worker is coming into the job on time every day, finishing their assignments and picking up valuable skills through the time they’re at the job, it’s a lot harder for a business to let go of them,” said Kelli Nicks, human resources representative at Capitol Federal Savings.

So what if the interview goes as planned, but the job is offered to someone else? For many people, this can feel incredibly degrading and result in feelings of inadequacy, but it doesn’t have to be seen in that light. Kent McAnally, director of career services for Washburn, knows about this first-hand.

“I went for an interview for a job I thought I had, but lo and behold, it was offered to someone else,” said McAnally. “But there’s something to be learned from any experience like that. I got the interview, which meant my paperwork was good, but it showed I needed to work on my interview skills. It just means, going back to where you were interviewed and finding out what you did wrong so you can do better the next time.”

When an interview is complete and a job is offered, an applicant shouldn’t be surprised if the job isn’t the high position he or she expected. All positions come with time and experience, and often, employers will allow someone to get into a business, but start them in a small position in the hopes they will advance. It’s not meant as an insult, but rather a way of seeing whether an applicant can advance.

Even if the interview doesn’t go as planned and the job isn’t offered, a company may still have good advice for an applicant. It is often a good idea to contact the business at a later time to see how an interview went.

“Even if the job didn’t work out for you, if you follow up your interview with a thank-you letter and a call to the interviewer to ask about your mistakes, you’re going to have a better chance at acquiring a job later on,” said Mike Valdivia, manager of corporate staffing for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.

Not all jobs are the same, and neither are interviewers. Employers also look at personality. In the end, it’s a big key to landing a job.

“I’ve hired a few Washburn graduates just because of their eagerness and drive,” said Megan DiGiovanni, a recruiter in human services at CoreFirst Bank and Trust. “We’ll get them training because they have such a desire to show themselves and the company they can be a vital part of our team. We really strive for people like that.”