Originally Published: Wednesday, 12 January 2000 Author: Kristina Pfaff-Harris
Published to: interact_articles_jobs_djn/Dream Jobs Now! Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Getting Started: Making a List, Checking it Twice

Job searching, most of us can agree, is a huge pain. There's all the paperwork to fill out, the recruiters, the HR people, the searching, the resume writing, and all that stuff.

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Job searching, most of us can agree, is a huge pain. There's all the paperwork to fill out, the recruiters, the HR people, the searching, the resume writing, and all that stuff. If you already have a job, even if it sucks, you're lucky -- as long as you're paying the bills, you've got some breathing room and can be more picky about jobs that do come along. If you don't, though, you're going to have to do a bit of fast thinking.

First of all, you have to figure out what you can do, and, almost more importantly, what you *want* to do. Some people are very experienced at, say, networking, but don't really enjoy it, while others are great coders but would rather be managing systems. Getting the dream job isn't about taking the first thing that matches your qualifications, but thinking long and hard about what you enjoy doing and trying to get paid for doing that.

Of course, since you probably know what you don't want to do, but don't know what you do want to do, you'll need to figure that out first. So, as a first step, it's a good idea to make a couple of lists. In the first list, put all the things that you can do or have done. Don't worry about years of experience, degrees, or anything like that yet: concentrate on things you've worked with, played with, or have a decent understanding of. Just simple keywords are fine: Perl, PHP3, Java, C, TCP/IP, Cisco routers, Linux, FreeBSD, Java, HTML, MySQL, Oracle, Dialup Access Servers, Daycare, Basket Weaving, WHATEVER -- you never know when singing and dancing could get you a programming or sysadmin job. (True Story(tm):A certain ISP's corporate heads owned a community theater company, and a sysadmin who listed acting/singing as "Other Experience" got called immediately for an interview.) This list is for you, and it's just to get started, so put down anything that could be considered a skill.

Okay, so now we have this huge long list of stuff. It doesn't do you much good all by itself, to tell you the truth, but we're not done yet. The next step is to try and get some order out of this chaos by trying to rate each of those items on a scale of 0 - 5 on two levels: the first scale is how adept or skilled you are at each of these things, where 5 == expert, and 0 == "Huh? Whazzat? Never heard of it." The important thing here is be honest -- this list is for your use, and probably won't be sent out to employers.

For the next scale, just rate the things on the list on a scale of 0 - 5 where 0 == "If I have to do much of this I'll go frigging nuts!" and 5 == "I love this more than coffee. I do this in my sleep. I wish I could stay awake 24 hours a day 7 days a week just so I could work on this all the time."

The 5's and 4's in the second scale are probably what you want to be doing. The other scale let's you know the kinds of things that you can work into a resume. It's easy enough, but most people never really think about job searching in these terms: it's all about just getting any job, and, well, if you don't like it, you can always quit. That sort of haphazard job search, though, wastes both your time and that of the employer. If you can figure out ahead of time what you want to do, you can focus on those things when you do make up your resume, or look for jobs to apply for.

This first step is pretty quick. Next, we'll talk about job experience and actual work experience (whether paid or not) and how to work that in as well.


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