Work Sample for Job Searching: Techniques and Tips

If you find that you're not ready to run your own business, read these tips on landing a solid job.

It may be tougher to land a job these days than it was just a few months ago. Unemployment claims are up and classified advertising is down. But that’s no reason to panic. Employers still complain they can’t find the qualified people they need, and they still say they’re looking for top performers.

The key to landing a job in tough times, therefore, is convincing an employer that you are one of those top performers, and a better candidate than the others. And one of the best ways to do that is not only to tell an employer about all your previous accomplishments, but to show them as well.

Of course, some areas of work lend themselves to show-and-tell while others don’t. Writers, artists, designers and many kinds of engineers can literally show off their work when they go on an interview. Those who have held jobs in administration, finance, customer service and other areas must be more creative. But coming up with visual representations of your work and proof of your competence still be done. Here’s how.

Say you are a salesperson. Obviously, your earnings – which a prospective employer probably will ask to verify – are usually ample proof of whether or not you’ve been successful. But showing more evidence builds a stronger case. For example, gather letters customers have written to you thanking you for your attention to detail. If you’ve done something terrific for a customer and they haven’t acknowledged it, ask them to jot a note to you and to your boss, if they feel comfortable doing so. Save the letters and put them under a plastic sheet in a simple presentation folder.

Keep any letters of commendation, awards or any other accolades you received on the job. Even if you mention these in your resume, showing them to a prospective employer when the time is right has considerably more impact.

This is an age of graphics, so any visual explanation of what you’ve done will help you stand out from the crowd. If you worked on a project that decreased costs by 30 percent, for instance, show that in a bar chart. Better yet, if your company has produced written material that corroborates what you’re saying, show that.

Do you get to see and keep copies of your personnel records? If you’ve been promoted or received a terrific review, get a copy of your file and add it to the materials you’ll show.

Do you do something different and better than the previous person who help your job? Maybe there are some before-and-after documents or statistics you can show.

When does all this stuff get used? During the interview, you’ll quickly reach the “tell me about yourself” stage. That’s when you show as well as tell. The evidence of your accomplishments – even if you gathered and prepared the documents yourself – serves as a third-party endorsement of how terrific you are. You won’t have to say you’re great, your documentation will do it for you.

Even if you are not looking for a job today, start gathering your material.

(C) Copyright 2001 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by Paradigm News, Inc.

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