SECURE THE JOB YOU WANT & EXCEL
Never provide personal financial information, including your social security number, to a prospective employer, especially online. Also, be careful about the privacy risks of posting your résumé and other personal information with online job boards. And, do not deal with anyone guaranteeing to find you a job. They are invariably bogus.
In determining where to start your career, attempt to avoid getting involved in what are fundamentally “bum businesses” and “mission impossibles”. There are certain businesses whose inherent characteristics doom most of their industry participants to a mediocre or declining future, regardless of their quality of management or how diligently their employees work.
Examples of bum businesses include most commodity-driven industries selling mass-market, undifferentiated products or services whose prices are out of anyone’s ability to influence, such as many natural resources and agricultural goods. The exception is when any of these products is in a state of chronic scarcity or short supply, e.g., oil and precious minerals. Other examples are industries plagued by chronic over-capacity, such as airlines and automobile manufacturing. The same applies to any high-cost businesses vulnerable to global competition, as are many basic manufacturing companies whose plants are based in Europe or North America. Yes, there will always be a few companies in these fields that are highly successful but they are the exception.
Warren Buffett, one of the world’s all-time most successful investors, rightly said, “When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that always remains intact.” He also stated: “In a difficult business, no sooner is one problem solved than another surfaces — never is there just one cockroach in the kitchen. Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.”
Other businesses to avoid are those riding fads that invariably turn out to be temporary and those dependent upon government protectionism or support for their survival. Personally, I also would have some reservations about working in the gambling, liquor and tobacco industries. The same applies to working for any organization that creates serious environmental problems or manufactures armaments. At the end of your life when your grandchildren ask, “What did you do?” I think you want to be proud of your answer.
In addition, be on your guard against “mission impossible” jobs where the two or three previous jobholders all failed to perform satisfactorily. Sometimes, organizations create positions with expectations and demands that are impossible for anyone to fulfill as a result of being badly conceived in the first place.
Employers are routinely starting to use search engines on the Internet to see what information may exist there on potential new hires. Everyone who is active on the Internet is creating an indelible personal footprint there. Do not be indiscreet online with any comments or opinions that could come back to haunt you, including those made in a chat-room, blog or forum. Do not take chances online that will put at risk your personal safety, expose you to identity theft or raise unnecessary questions about your character in the minds of prospective future employers.
In the case of online social-networking sites, such as Facebook or MySpace, be careful about what you post there under your own name. Assume all your tweets will be screened one day for anything offensive you may have said in them. Categorically avoid making any negative comments online about your prior or current employer, supervisor or co-workers. Refrain from using offensive language, referring to any questionable behavior on your part, or posting revealing personal photos. Set up privacy settings to prevent the general public from accessing your postings but do not count on this protection working. Also, never use the same password on your social-networking sites that you use for any sensitive e-mail, financial or payment accounts.
Finally, do not get discouraged in your job search. Be tenacious and persevere. If what you are doing is not getting results, unplug and try another approach. Do not over-rely on the Internet to find a job. Meet face-to-face with as many people who might be able to help you as you can.
Giving up is not an option. Do not let yourself become seduced into taking a job in a fundamentally bum business or one that is a mission impossible. No matter what you are paid, it probably will not be worth it. To secure the right job, you have to keep a positive mind-set and be pro-active in finding and pursuing all promising opportunities.
Appendix 1. Personal Worksheet Sample
Appendix 2. Résumé Sample
Appendix 3. Covering Letter Sample
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