Be prepared, savvy in job hunt

Job counselor Gloria Leidel is one of the lucky ones. In her decades-long career, she has never been fired or laid off.

But as a job developer and counselor for Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, Leidel, 49, has helped many people find jobs.

In this economy, they need it.

The U.S. Labor Department recently reported that the nation’s payrolls shed 247,000 jobs in July. While jobs are being lost at a slower rate, the average length of unemployment continues to climb. Now, one in three unemployed people is out of work for more than 27 weeks.

Some among the nation’s 14.5 million unemployed may have enough severance money to fund a high-end job coach. Others may be offered outplacement services along with their pink slips.

But many others are simply shown the door. For them, job hunting needs to be done on the cheap. That may be a challenge, because the way to find jobs has changed dramatically in the last decade.

Any tips on how to manage this new kind of job search?

The first thing you need to do is know how to fill out your application. You have to do it online. Recruiters are looking at that information. And if you don’t do that right, they’re going to bypass you.

What if they are going into a store and sitting down at the computer in the human resource office? What can they do to get it right?

When you go, you shouldn’t just have a résumé, you should have something I call a cheat sheet. And that is all your information. You should have that before you even step out the door.

What’s on the cheat sheet?

It would be all your employers. Your start date, your end date, your reason for leaving.

Employers’ addresses?

Yes. Some references, their phone numbers. And a description of what you actually did at that position. And have a complete history.

Anything else?

You need to get some information on what position you are actually applying for. Some people just go, “I need a job, I need a job.” They don’t think about their transferable skills. Say that you worked in an office and you answered phones and you have good customer-service skills. You could transfer that skill into retail, because that’s an important component – customer service.

The most important thing is to read the descriptions of the jobs so that you can use the same language. When the (human resource person opens) that application and they have on their job description, “Excellent customer service skills” – if you have those skills, you need to use that same language.

Don’t say “I am friendly.”

Or I’m “people-oriented.” Instead say, “excellent customer-service skills.”