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Getting a Job

You found the job you had, and you will find another job.

Changing jobs sometimes can be a good thing. You may always have wanted to start your own business or get into a line of work that pays better than your old job.

When Jim, an industrial maintenance worker from the Midwest, lost his job at a plant, he retrained on heavy earth-moving equipment and took a job in Florida. Now he’s an operating engineer, works outside, and loves his new job. “When I was a kid, I dreamed of doing what I’m doing now. Losing my old job was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Being positive about this change in your life can be a big boost to your morale. Think about it.

We will discuss the steps to take to get the kind of job you want. It’s up to you to take these suggestions and use them to learn about retraining and re-employment opportunities available in your community. Your union and your community want to help you overcome this setback.

Job Search Action Plan

Step 1: Take Stock of Yourself

This first step is important. Ask yourself:

  • What kinds of paid or unpaid work have I done?
  • What skills do I have?
  • What working conditions do I prefer?
List Your Skills

Don’t think, “But I don’t have any skills!” Anyone who has worked for a number of years HAS skills. Try this worksheet to identify your skills .

It is important for you to make a record of all your previous jobs and other related information for two reasons:

  • It will help to remind you of the skills that you can offer to an employer, and
  • It can become a handy aid for filling out job applications.

Complete the employment history worksheet .

Take it with you when you apply for jobs.

For further information, go to your local library or community college—there are many books on résumés and job searching that include samples of typical employment histories.

Go one step further and develop your own résumé based on your completed employment worksheet.

Identify Working Conditions That You Prefer
  • Physical working conditions—for example, do you like to do outdoor work? If so, building, mechanical work or jobs involving driving may appeal to you.
  • Mental working conditions—these jobs usually involve working alone, taking instructions from others and having the potential to learn and make decisions.
  • Pay and benefits—although changing jobs may require a cut in pay initially, you should think about:

   The lowest pay and benefits level you will accept,

   The chances for future wage increases and/or promotions as you stay on the job, and

   The costs to you (day care, transportation, uniform, tools) of accepting the job.

Step 2: Find Out Who’s Hiring

Choose Which Employers to Contact…

Most job openings never are advertised in the paper, especially in high-unemployment areas. You must use informal methods to uncover this HIDDEN JOB MARKET.

Through Informal Methods

Most jobs are found through personal contacts and by word of mouth. Inform everyone you know that you are looking for work. Ask them to listen and watch for openings:

  • Friends, acquaintances and fellow union members,
  • Family and neighbors, and
  • Somebody working in an occupation or with an employer that interests you.

Remember: These personal contacts are your most important ones.

Through Standard Methods

Use the standard methods of learning about job openings:

  • Newspaper classified ads,
  • Local job service office, and
  • Employment agencies.

Be careful when contacting an employment agency. Make sure you ask whether there are any fees you have to pay.

Follow Up on All Job Leads

Fill out this job leads log as you contact possible employers.

  • Contact possible employers by telephone or letter.
  • Ask about job openings.
  • Set up an interview.

Step 3: Prepare for the Interviewer

Ask About the Employer

Find out as much as you can about the employer and the job opening before you officially apply for the job or are interviewed.

Find out such things as:

  • What are the employer’s products or services?
  • What skills does the job require?
  • How many workers are employed?
Filling Out a Job Application

Keep these tips in mind when filling out a job application:

  • Before writing anything, look over the entire form carefully, then read and follow all directions exactly.
  • Complete the application in black or blue ink.
  • Neatly print your answers to all questions. If a question does not apply, write in “N/A” (not applicable) or a dash.
  • Make certain that all the information you put on the application is correct. Take your completed employment history worksheet to help you remember names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates.
  • After completing the application, double-check to see that everything is properly and correctly filled out.

Going on the Job Interview

Before the Interview

Consider how you might answer the following typical question:

  • Why are you interested in working for us? (Sample response: “I am looking for stable employment in a field in which I believe I can perform well.”)
  • What is your experience?
  • What makes you think you can fulfill the requirements of this job? (Sample response: “I learn quickly and I am a hard worker.”)

Your answer to each of the above questions should include a brief description of your skills.

  • Take along a summary sheet of your past work experience skills and education (your completed employment history worksheet will do).
  • Take along your Social Security card and driver’s license.
  • Be a few minutes early. Don’t be late!
  • Dress appropriately. Try to dress neatly in the approximate clothing required for the job. No sunglasses, gum or cigarettes.
During the Interview
  • Sit up, look alert and show that you are interested in the job.
  • When answering questions, be honest, to the point and confident.
After the Interview
  • Send a letter to the employer thanking him/her for the interview. Sometimes this helps to bring your name to the interviewers’ attention when they are making their decision—especially if they interviewed a number of people for the position.

A FINAL NOTE: Remember that it is up to you to convince the employer that YOU are ABLE (you want the work) to do the job. Use any help that is available—and good luck!

Child Care

A single parent with small children may need day care services. Your spouse’s ability to work while you seek employment may require day care for preschool children.

United Ways often fund low-cost day care centers that usually charge on a sliding scale fee basis. This means that you are charged according to your income.

If a number of households in the same neighborhood are in the same situation, you might consider working out cooperative arrangements with neighbors to baby-sit one another’s children as needed.

Commercial day care is generally available, but costs may be steep. Shop around.

Employment Programs and Services

1. AFL-CIO State and Local Councils

Various job training, job search or placement programs may be available under federal, state or local grants through your local union, the AFL-CIO state or local council, the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute (WAI) or the Appalachian Council (Appalachian region only).

WAI is a union-supported organization that works with unions to build their capacity in economic and workforce development areas. Call 202-466-8010.

2. State Employment Service

Each state has an employment service whose purpose is to match unemployed citizens with available jobs in the state. Services of the state employment service are free.

The state employment service usually provides lists of current job openings, trained counselors, aptitude testing (to determine what kinds of jobs you can do), training in job search skills, job training programs and information on education and retraining programs.

  • Workforce Investment Act—Funds state programs for a wide variety of job search, training, counseling, transportation and educational programs.
  • Pell Grants—Provide funds to unemployed workers who are in qualifying educational or trade schools.

Ask your state employment service counselor about programs available in your state.

3. Workforce Investment Act

WIA provides a one-stop delivery system to help with job search, skill assessment placement and training for adults, dislocated workers and youth (ages 14–24).

4. Dislocated Worker Eligibility for Service

You may be eligible for placement, retraining and educational services under WIA if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You have been terminated or laid off (or notified of layoff); are eligible for, or have exhausted, unemployment compensation; and are unlikely to return to your previous industry or occupation.
  • You are self-employed.
  • You are a displaced homemaker.

Services include:

  • Rapid Response Assistance—access to public services within 48 hours of a closure or announcement.
  • Readjustment Services—testing and assessment, job/career counseling, job clubs, job development and placement, labor market and occupational information, supportive services and relocation assistance.
  • Retraining Services—classroom, occupational skill and on-the-job training; basic, remedial and literacy education; and entrepreneurial training.
  • Needs-Related Payments—for dislocated workers enrolled in training who have exhausted their unemployment compensation. Eligibility and dollar amounts vary among states.
  • Child care and transportation assistance.

5. Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program provides special income protection and job training for workers who lose their jobs or have their work hours and wages reduced as a result of import competition.

TAA-certified workers are eligible for special job training plus job search and relocation allowances. TAA funding can be combined with WIA funds for long-term job training. Contact your union representative or state employment service to determine your eligibility.

Most states require that an unemployed worker register with the state employment service as a condition of receiving unemployment compensation. Some states provide tax breaks to employers who hire through the state employment service.

TAA funds can be combined with WIA funds for long-term training assistance.


If you have lost your job or had your hours reduced due to imports or shift of production to Canada or Mexico, you may qualify for transitional adjustment assistance. Contact your One-Stop Center.

7. The Targeted Jobs Tax Credit

TJTC provides employers with a tax credit for hiring employees under special provisions of the state unemployment service.

8. The Veterans Workforce Investment Program

This program helps unemployed veterans receive benefits and locate jobs. This is a federal program, usually operated through the WIA One-Stop Center. Your local office of the Department of Veterans Affairs has information on other veterans’ employment and assistance programs.

9. College or University Placement Offices

Colleges, universities and vocational schools have information on Pell Grants and student loans that can help you to continue your education or seek retraining.

10. Private Employment Agencies

These for-profit job placement agencies are licensed by the state and charge a fee to find you a job.

Know the fee required and understand the contract terms fully before you sign. Get it in writing from the agency.

11. Temporary Labor Services

Some unions sponsor temporary labor services, which may involve contracts for temporary laborers. Some services pay off in cash at the end of the day and may provide extra pay if you have your own transportation.

This kind of work may not be particularly attractive, but it may provide some supplemental income until something better comes along.

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