Richard Bronson created job search engine 70millionjobs.com to help ex-offenders find employment

70millionjobs.com

Richard Bronson

If entrepreneur Richard Bronson had his way, every American with a criminal record would be employed. And he’s created a job search engine to help achieve that goal.

He calls his company 70millionjobs.com, because that’s how many people he says have a criminal record. And one of those people is Bronson himself.

Bronson served 22 months in a federal prison camp for securities fraud committed while running Biltmore Securities, a company he cofounded. Earlier in his career he gained experience working for Stratton Oakmont. Yes, that’s the brokerage firm immortalized in the film, The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Once out of prison he faced what he calls the “daunting task of getting my life back together.” And he knew it wouldn’t be easy. “As long as there’s the Internet, people can find out everything about you. Once you commit a crime, you have a life-long sentence,” he says.

After Bronson got out of prison, he worked for Defy Ventures for a while but left because he wanted to be involved in something scalable. And his idea of something scalable became 70millionjobs.com

“I decided that this huge population should have the same tools for looking for a job that other people without a record have – an indeed.com for ex-offenders,” he says.

“That was my original vision. I felt that the effort was crying out for a for-profit venture, because it could scale. If you have a website you can engage with 10,000 people without it costing too much.”

Bronson formed partnership with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

He launched his business early last year and concentrated on New York, but when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti approached him to create a partnership, he switched his efforts to L.A.

They launched a three-month pilot project on April 3 that allows Los Angeles employers to post an unlimited number of jobs free of charge. Bronson believes that if his company does a good job and delivers a steady stream of applicants, the companies that list with 70millionjobs.com will be willing to pay after the pilot project period is over.

He’s publicizing the site through community-based organizations that provide job readiness programs, which means those applying for employment on 70millionjobs.com are serious about wanting to work.

Applicants will use video resumes to highlight their personalities

Because traditional resumes can be problematical for those in reentry, Bronson is working on creating video resumes for his applicants, which he feels would work better.

“Many of them have no job experience at all. And no one would want to hire them,” he says. “But if you meet them in person, they’re funny, bright and charming people who would be good to come to work at your company.”

Bronson has also created a unique way for his applicants to actually apply for the jobs posted on 70millionjobs.com.

“Our applicants typically don’t have a laptop and a connection to the Internet. But they all, on the other hand, have smart phones. We will be notifying them by SMS alert (text messaging) anytime there’s a new job that might be suitable for their interests. And with one touch, they can apply for that job,” he explains.

Although Bronson is concentrating his efforts on Los Angeles at the moment, he hopes to add more employers in New York and expand to the San Francisco Bay Area by the end of this year.

“L.A. has the largest population of incarcerated people and people with records. It’s the big league,” he says. “We feel that if things go well in Los Angeles, it will give us the entrée to other cities as well and serve as a template for our expansion.“

 

New Beginners Job Search Handbook offers unique tips to ex-offender job seekers

New Beginnings Job Search Handbook

Ken Bailor

Think you’ve heard it all when it comes to job search tips for previously incarcerated job seekers?

We did too, but we learned a few new things from Ken Bailor, the reentry services coordinator for Riverside County (Calif.) ReEntry Services, part of the county’s economic development agency.

During the past 11 years, he has presented job search workshops to more than 25,000 people incarcerated at four of Riverside County’s five correctional facilities.

Bailor calls his students “new beginners,” who by his definition seek to put the past – along with attitudes, actions and negative behavior that led to their incarceration – far behind them, so they can achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual success in life.

And to educate them, Bailor developed the New Beginners Job Search Handbook. It offers a step-by-step process that can lead to a new beginning in the lives of those in reentry, as well as a few unique ideas.

Along with resume writing and interview tips, the handbook offers tips on how to improve one’s attitude and approach to life, as well as ability to look for work.

Talking positively

He includes a chart on how to reframe what people need to say to make it positive.

  • For example, instead of this:

“I just got out of jail and need a job.”

  • Tell the hiring manager:

“Jail was a wake-up call for me. I learned new things about myself and my life. I completed my GED and developed new skills. I’m ready to prove that I can be a productive employee.”

Because what people say and how they say it is so important, the handbook includes a vocabulary list for successful New Beginners. It recommends using green flag words like “I can” instead of red flag words like “I can’t.” “I take action” instead of “I should.” “And” instead of “but,” etc.

Understanding the impression you might make

One section of the handbook analyzes what an employer would think about certain behavior or actions when completing a job application, creating a resume or during a job interview that will help students become more aware of how they might come across.

Putting together a personal commercial

Bailor divides jobs into four families – those concerned with ideas, things, people and data – and includes an extensive list of words defining personal assets related to those types of jobs. Using those assets and words for skills chosen from another list, job seekers can put together what he calls a personal commercial and what others might refer to as an elevator pitch.

Also included are a practice application and resume worksheet and examples of different types of resumes and cover letters, as well as advice on where to look for jobs and a job fair attendance checklist. In addition, there’s a list of interview questions, how to explain a felony conviction and information about expungement, certificates of rehabilitation and pardons.

How the handbook is used

Although the book is a self-teaching tool, Bailor and three volunteers take it into the facilities and do a basic introduction. The inmates go through all the exercises, and when they’re finished contact Bailor who asks them an interview question and administers an open-book test. A week later he returns for a closed book final and those who pass receive a certificate.

When they’re about to be released Bailor tells them, ”If you go after those jobs the same way you went after drugs, you’ll be successful. And when you get out, do three things – call your ride, talk to probation and call me.” Only about 10% of the people who leave actually call him, but for those that do he has some solid advice.

He tells his New Beginners:

  • Look forward not back to the troubles you’ve had.
  • Stay positive and find resources. Be proactive.
  • Don’t rely on the jobs that are on the Internet. Visit employers. Tell them about yourself and drop off a resume or JIST card. If you don’t hear back from them in a week, call again. Eventually someone will hire you.
  • Go out and talk to people. Some of the best jobs you’ll find out about are through people in your AA and NA meetings.
  • Stay away from the old places and things, and find new beginnings.

You may view the latest edition of the New Beginners Job Search Handbook, which is included as a resource on Ken Bailor’s Jerry Jobseeker’s Resources website.

 

Determining the best final question to wrap up an interview

interview

Brad Drevno

In job interviews, the questions that you ask the interviewers may be as important, if not more so, as the questions they ask you. And the question you ask last may leave a lasting impression.

As you prepare for an interview, keep in mind that very carefully crafted questions will give you insight into the company or organization and help you determine what type of place it is and whether it would be a good fit for your skills, talents and personality. In other words, would you be happy working there?

Asking intelligent questions will also show the person who is interviewing you that you’ve done your homework, understand the business and are interested in potential employment within it.

There are a multitude of questions to ask throughout the interview, and many examples of these can be found online. (We also offer tips on our website.) But what happens after most of the questions have already been asked? How do you respond when the interviewer closes the interview with, “Do you have any other questions? or “Is there anything else you’d like to know?”

Save an intelligent question for the end of the interview

Instead of saying, “No, I think I’ve asked everything I need to,” be sure to save a question for the end.

Brad Drevno, chief operating officer of Professional Case Development in Denver, Colo., – and mentor for business students at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business – has a suggestion for an idea he picked up during his search for his current position.

“We’ve all been there,” he says. “It’s the end of the interview, and after nearly an hour of pouring your heart (and work experience) out to a potential employer, the hiring manager asks if you have any last questions before wrapping up.”

“It’s meant to be a formality, of course – a way to end the conversation without kicking you out right then and there. But it’s also an opportunity, intentional or not, to make one final impression and give your interviewer something to remember you by.”

Effective question to close interview

Drevno was inspired by an article on the Medium website which was written by Marshall Darr when he was entrepreneur in residence at Tradecraft.

In the article, Darr says he ends each interview with: “Actually, yeah, I was wondering what your best moment so far at (company name) was?”

Darr credits this rather innocuous question not only with giving him insight into the hiring manager and the company in a way that perhaps no other question could, but it has also turned interviews that weren’t going well for him into invitations back.

And Drevno found that, “There’s no higher note to end on than with your interviewer’s fondest memory of the company, a feeling that can now be subconsciously associated with your prospects as a future employee.”

It gives the hiring manager a chance to share the benefits of working for the company, and if they can’t come up with a “best moment,” you might want to consider looking elsewhere.

Everyone likes a happy memory. And encouraging the hiring manager to remember one might just be the thing that sets you apart from other applicants – and leads to a call-back interview or possibly a job offer.

 

What you post on social media can keep you from getting a job

social mediaAs social media becomes a growing presence in everyday life, you need to be increasingly careful about the things you post and tweet.

The pictures you publish and the things you say on social media sites can keep you from getting a job, can get you in trouble with your boss or can even get you fired. But social media postings can also work in your favor, if they portray you as professional, able to communicate effectively and make you appear as a person that would be nice to work with.

60% of employers use social media to research applicants

And don’t think that hiring managers and recruiters aren’t looking. They are. Or at least according to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey of 2,186 hiring and human research managers conducted between February 10 and March 17, 2016. It found that 60% of employers use social media sites to research job applicants, up from 52%  last year and 11% in 2005.

“Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “And with more and more people using social media, it’s not unusual to see the usage for recruitment to grow as well.”

Info on social media can hinder job search

The company’s survey found that 49% of hiring managers who screen candidates using social media found information that made them decide to not hire a candidate. The top things that bothered them:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information (46%)
  • Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs (43%)
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. (33%)
  • Bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employee (31%)
  • Poor communication skills (29%)

Jobvite, a San Mateo, Calif.-based software and recruiting company, found similar responses. In its Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report 2016, based on an online survey conducted in June and completed by 1,600 recruiting and human resources professionals:

  • 47% of recruiters view pictures of alcohol consumption negatively on social media
  • 60% find over sharing a problem
  • 72% view typos negatively
  • 71% find indications of marijuana use problematic

Shutting down Facebook account may not be best idea

In the past some people recommended that job seekers should shut down their Facebook accounts, since it’s impossible to tell what a hiring manager might find offensive. These days, however, many hirers may wonder why a certain job seeker does not have a social media presence, i.e., a Facebook account.

According to the CareerBuilder survey, 41% of employers said they are less likely to interview a job applicant if they are unable to find information about that person online.

Although LinkedIn is used by hiring managers and recruiters to get an idea of an applicant’s professional background, Facebook – and to a lesser extent Twitter – portray the personal side, and can answer the question, “Is this someone I would enjoy working with.”

If your Facebook postings or tags are even slightly offensive, however, it might not be a bad idea to deactivate your account while you’re searching for a job, since it will no doubt work against you.

And even after you get a job, you’re not safe. According the CareerBuilder survey, more than a quarter of employers have either fired or reprimanded an employee because of content they found online.

It’s important to carefully consider each and every photo and comment you post, especially on Facebook. So constantly monitor your social media presence and make sure it portrays you as the kind of person that the company you dream of working for would like to hire.

 

Cold calling your way to a job

cold callingWhile it’s certainly not the easiest thing to do, cold calling can be the most effective way to find a job.

Forget sending out countless resumes through job boards. They mostly go into a black hole, never to be seen – by anyone but you – again. But pick up the phone. It can be your most important job search tool.

Since some job experts say that as many as 80% of all job openings are unadvertised, this may in fact be the only way to find the majority of jobs. And there’ll be less competition.

While you’ll want to avoid human resources departments whose job it is to weed applicants out, using the phone to call hiring managers can bring results.

But remember it’s a numbers game. It may take many “no’s” till you get to a “yes,” so keep on calling. Focus on your activity and momentum building and not whether you hear a “no” or “yes.”

Put together a calling list

The first thing you have to do is put together a list of maybe 100 businesses to call where you would be interested in working.

Two possible resources for this are your local phone book – paper or online version – and Business Finder, an online tool created by the American Job Center. This free database offers the name of the business, its address and phone number and key contact people with their titles. The Business Finder also includes each company’s business description, industry code, number of employees, website and even the distance of the business from your location. It offers a variety of ways to search for businesses.

American Job Center also has other resources you may want to consider for finding prospective employers.

Determine who to call

Always find out who you should call in each business. That hiring manager is typically the manager of the department in which you’d like to work. If it’s a small company (say under 25 employees), you might want to get in touch with the company manager, owner or president.

Do your homework. If you don’t already have it, look at the company’s website to see if you can find the name of the person you should talk to. If not, call the main number and ask the receptionist by pressing “O.”

What to say

Say to the person who answers, “I am trying to find out the name of the person who is the manager of (department). How do you spell their last name? What is their official title?” If they are not sure, ask if they have a company directory handy and can look it up. And make sure you ask, “By the way, what’s that person’s email address?”

Then you can later call back and either ask for that person or find them through the electronic directory and talk to them directly. Prepare a script, so you will have confidence, but don’t read from it. You can use your 15-second elevator pitch, a short sales pitch about yourself and what you bring to the job. (There are many examples online, and here’s a site with a variety.) You can also use information from your JIST card to prepare what you’re going to say.

Be enthusiastic, sincere in your interest, and remember to smile. They can’t see you but can sense and feel your smile, and believe it or not, a smile can make you more relaxed and confident.

Consider calling after business hours

If you’re too nervous to call them during office hours, call after hours and leave a message on their voice mail. Use your 15-second elevator pitch emphasizing your strengths.

It might be something like:

“Hi, my name is _______ and my phone number is ________. I love doing________ and am really good at it. I’m confident that I have the experience that could help your company succeed. I think I can offer you (give your three top assets).”

“Again, my number is_____ (say it and then repeat it) I’d like to get together to talk more about how I would be a good fit at (company name). I would appreciate it if you could give me some information about working at your company. As soon as I get off the phone. I’m going to follow up with an email and hope to hear from you soon.”

Send an email with your JIST card attached, and if you don’t hear back in a couple of days, call again.

If you don’t hear back within a week, call one more time, and say something like:

“This is ______. My phone number is ____ (if voice-mail). I’ve left a couple of voice mail messages and know how things can slip through the cracks. I don’t mean to be a pest but I hope you’re the type who appreciates persistence. I just wanted to let you know that I think I can contribute to your company and would love to talk to you about it. I’d appreciate hearing back from you, but if I don’t I promise not to call you another time. Again, this is ______ and my number is _____. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Although you may not hear back from all of the hiring managers you contact, those who do call back will help you get one step closer to the job you’re looking for. Remember it’s a numbers game. And never give up. Every “no’ brings you closer to a “yes.”

 

Why you might want to consider working for a small business

work for a small businessWith all the challenges facing those in reentry, it’s important to create a job search plan that is realistic, focused and tailored to the type of work you are good at. And you may want to include small businesses in the mix. Or concentrate on them exclusively.

And there’s an excellent reason for this. It’s one that might surprise you. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses provide 55 percent of all jobs and 66 percent of all net new jobs that have been created since the 1970s.

And it’s not just the number of jobs created. The number of small business themselves have increased 49 percent since 1982. Think about these numbers for a while. And then think about the advantages small business might be able to provide.

Benefits of employment at a small business

At a small business you will:

  • Learn a lot about your job and how a business operates very quickly.
  • If you take initiative, you’ll be able to get experience in a variety of areas.
  • You will probably take on more responsibility than you would at a larger company.
  • After you’ve offered value to the employer and learned the business, it may be something you could replicate in the future and become an entrepreneur yourself.

A small business can also offer entry possibilities that big corporations might not. First of all, there may not be the dreaded “box” on the application. Depending on the size, small businesses may not have human resources departments. The owner may do the hiring.

And since the owner is also running a business, they might not have time to wade through a pile of resumes. Be proactive and pick up the phone and call them – or drop by in person. Even better, try to find someone you know who might know them. LinkedIn is good for this. Having a referral is always the best way to approach someone when looking for a job.

Since most small business owners are entrepreneurs and often have to sell themselves and their businesses, they will appreciate your initiative.

Do your homework

Before contacting a small business owner or manager, however, do your homework. Pick out a handful of companies you really want to work for. Local chambers of commerce are excellent resource for this, since most of them have online directories listing the companies of their members.

Once you’ve chosen a handful of companies, learn everything you can about them either from the company website or their Facebook page and by studying up on businesses that might be their competition.

Come up with some ideas about how you could help improve the product they create, the service they provide or the way their business operates. Then, when you meet with the owner, you can share your ideas.

And knowing a lot about the business will help you in the interview. Although human resources personnel are trained to do interviews, many small business owners are neither very good at interviewing nor enjoy doing it. Your knowledge will help them feel at ease and can ensure a steady flow of conversation.

In addition to your elevator pitch, your well thought out list of ways you can help the company and your knowledge of the business, bring along a handful of questions to ask.

Be sure to ask for the job

And at the end of the interview, don’t forget to ask for the job, if you really want it. Say something like:

“I appreciate your time and enjoyed talking to you, I think I can contribute to your company, and I’d really like to work for you.”

If you don’t happen to be hired, follow up telling them that you were disappointed you didn’t get the job but would be interested in other opportunities if any open up. Also ask them to contact you if anyone they know might be looking for someone with your skills, talent and interest.

 

Indiana inmate creates job search PowerPoint presentation

job search PowerPoint presentationAn inmate at a women’s prison in Madison, Ind., created a PowerPoint presentation of our book, Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed. And we’re happy to share her Jails to Jobs PPT with readers who might want to do something similar for the job search workshops they present.

The idea came about at the suggestion of Mary Shipman, a business technology instructor at the prison, who teaches prisoners how to use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. She discovered our book on Amazon.

“I recently presented your book to an offender as material for a practice PowerPoint project,” Shipman says. “I gave her the book on Friday and by Monday she had read it and came back to class excited to start working on her project.  She says that this book is the most relevant and up-to-date information she has been given from a single source.”

She created the presentation and shared it with her class. The PowerPoint was such a hit that she has presented it to several other programs at the facility.

She has found her passion

“She’s really found her passion. She goes and gives these presentations and empowers women. It’s an amazing thing to see. I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Shipman.

“As an instructor, I am proud of what she has accomplished, and I feel that your book has played a role in her future success after release.”

The inmate has been incarcerated for a little more than three years and will be going home in December, just before Christmas. Her crime: prescription fraud.

Although she was included in a documentary movie, she has never done any public speaking before, according to Shipman. And the woman is really making an impact.

“It’s interesting to watch because you can see the other women nodding their heads. I’ve tried to give this presentation but it’s not quite the same as someone who’s gone through it,” she says.

In addition to the presentation, Shipmen uses our book in her course. Two things that she feels are particularly useful to the students is the idea of using a JIST card, which she didn’t know about before, and going to a free or low-cost tattoo removal program to get unwanted tattoos taken off.

Improving pre-release job search education

Although Shipman feels that prisons are getting better at preparing inmates for reentry, the best thing they can do is give specific advice and information.

“The most important thing is giving them specific places to go,” she says. “Tell them, ‘When you get out, this is where you need to go and this is what they can do for you.’ This takes away the personal accountability, but it will help them.

“They’ve had people telling them what to do for the past five years (Or however long they’ve been in prison), so if we tell them what’s their first step it would help tremendously.”

 

All Star Labor & Staffing proves value of employment agency

agency

Ramona Mathany, founder and director of All Star Labor & Staffing

Whether they’re looking for a temporary, temp-to-perm or permanent position, those in re-entry need all the help they can get. And for many, turning to a staffing agency may be the most effective way to find employment.

Few people know this better than Ramona Mathany, founder and director of Portland, Ore., headquartered All Star Labor & Staffing.

“I did prison ministry for 10 years. After about three years of watching a revolving door in the prison, I was horrified to see them coming back and the whole reason they came back was because they couldn’t find a job,” she says.

“At the same time a very good friend of ours got out of prison and couldn’t find a job. I watched firsthand what happened to her. She had a felony, but it didn’t have anything to do with the type of work she was looking for. It was so frustrating, so I decided I should start something and fix it.”

And she’s done just that through All Star Labor & Staffing. Mathany estimates that of the 4,007 people the company had out on jobs last year, about 55 percent had criminal records. Her Redding, Calif. office is in the 80 percent range, while Bend, Ore., is 30 or 40 percent. The company also has offices in Albany and Salem, Ore.

It places employees – temps, temp-to-perms and direct hires – in jobs in manufacturing, food production and construction, as well as administrative office work and such hospitality jobs as cooks, servers, baristas and bartenders.

For those in reentry, working with an employment agency may be the only option for true success.

Why use an employment agency?

“Because they actually don’t have to do the interview. The interview is very stressful for someone, especially for those with a record,” says Mathany.

“Sometimes they’re so nervous they can’t show off what they can do. We’ve already done the interview for them by getting the customer. The best workers, in a lot of cases, may not interview the best, especially if they’re nervous about their background.”

This is a very good example, in general, of why it’s so important to prepare for interviews, including roleplaying them with family and friends.

Those who are sent out on assignment by All Star can also feel confident that they have the personality and ability to do the job. The company only hires 29 percent of the people it interviews.

Whether people are selected of course depends on if they can do the job, but that’s not all that matters, according to Mathany.

“It has to do with the attitude with which they’re reentering. We don’t want anybody who’s going to stay in the criminal mindset working for us,” she says. “We want someone who is completely remorseful for what they’ve done, and who says they would never do it again. They want to change their lives.”

Advice to job seekers

Mathany says there are several things that those with a records should do:

  • Go out there and do the very best job you can, and work faster and harder than the other employees on the job.
  • Always tell the truth about your past.
  • Follow every single rule the employer tells you to follow.
  • Work circles around the other people there. It will not matter what your background is if you’re that kind of worker.

Convincing employers

Although many companies refuse to hire those in reentry, Mathany has been quite successful at convincing employers to consider this population.

She says she begins by sending employers people without backgrounds, as that opens the door. “We then ask them if they’d consider working with people from this population,” Mathany says. And often they will.

“We’re trying to change the face of employment and have people realize that this is an incredible population to work with,” she adds.

Note: For anyone outside of All Star’s operating areas of Portland, Bend, Albany, and Salem, Ore.; and Redding Calif., please see our website for a list of temp agencies in other parts of the country that we have heard good things about.

 

Don’t forget to write job interview thank you notes

thank you noteIn conducting a job search, you always need to keep in mind ways to set yourself apart from other applicants. And one of those ways is to write a thank you note.

Be sure to do this after every job interview, but also after after an informational interview or job shadowing experience. If you’re proactive, as we recommend, and drop by restaurants, retail shops or businesses unannounced to talk to the hiring manager about potential job opportunities, be sure to follow up by sending a thank you note to that person as well.

While many people don’t bother to send these notes, it’s very important to do so.

In a survey of 2,878 hiring managers conducted in 2011 by Harris International for CareerBuilder, more than one in five (22%) said they are less likely to hire a candidate who doesn’t send a thank you note after the interview. The reasons stated: It shows a lack of follow through and sends a message that the candidate is not really serious about the opportunity.

Although the survey was conducted nearly five years ago, it still rings true. Hiring managers like to be thanked.

While it used to be said that hand-written notes were the preferred method to thank people, these days email thank you notes are also appropriate. Some people send an email note within 24 hours of the interview and follow up with a hand-written note that emphasizes other details.

Either way, the medium may not be as important as the message.

What to include in a thank you note

Be sure to keep the thank you note to a few paragraphs, and use it strategically to:

  • Bring up a point or two that you didn’t remember to mention in the interview.
  • Briefly elaborate on a question the interviewer asked but you feel you didn’t answer well.
  • Clarify anything that you think might have been misunderstood.
  • Show that you are really interested in the position (or the field, if it’s an informational interview).

If you’re not sure how to write one, there are plenty of examples of interview thank you notes online. Just search using the term “interview thank you notes,” and they will come up. Read a few examples and write an original note of your own.

Creating a habit of writing follow-up thank you notes will be just one more way to help ensure your job search is successful.

 

Use job shadowing technique to explore opportunities firsthand

job shadowingJob shadowing goes a step beyond informational interviewing and can give you even better insight into a particular field or job. It is also a bit trickier to set up, however, and is not for everyone.

To job shadow means that you spend several hours, a day or even longer, “shadowing” a particular employee as they do their work. This technique can be particularly good if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, because it gives you a chance to explore various jobs and how they’re carried out on a day-to-day basis.

Job shadowing also can be beneficial for those who have a pretty good idea of what type of work they would enjoy, based on their knowledge and skills. For example, you know a lot about hand tools and are thinking about becoming a carpenter’s assistant. Find a carpenter, and ask if you could “shadow” them for a day. You would go to their job site and watch what they do, maybe help out a bit in the process.

How to create a job shadowing opportunity

In order to job shadow you need the cooperation of the person you want to shadow, plus sometimes the permission of the company where that person works. Although this tactic takes time and effort to set up, it will provide a firsthand experience of what a certain type of job entails. And it will give you a new contact or two of people who are working in a field you might like to pursue.

To get the most out of the experience, treat it similarly to an informational interview. Make a list of questions to ask, and as you follow the person through the day observe exactly what they do, what type of tools and equipment they use, and how they interact with co-workers and clients (if they have them).

Also try to talk to the person’s coworkers, who may be doing slightly different jobs and can give you even further insight into the field.

If you can afford it, offer to take the person you are shadowing out to lunch. It’s a small price to pay for the time and attention they are giving you.

When you’re actually applying for work at a later date, you could come back to them to see if they have any jobs and mention some of the things you observed during your job shadowing experience. You may also see something you could improve in their operations, a problem that could be solved or a need that you might be able to fulfill.

Don’t forget a thank you note

After the experience is over, don’t forget to send a thank you note. Although an email note is OK, a hand written card will make a better impression.

While job shadowing may offer an unparalleled opportunity to gain inside knowledge and information about a particular career and/or company, perhaps the best thing it can do is increase your network of contacts and offer one more person who hopefully will be happy to help you on your pathway to employment.

And while you’re busy setting up job shadowing opportunities, you might want to use some of your free time to take a look at the jobshadow.com website, which includes interviews with everyone from a fast food restaurant manager and roofer to a firefighter and fly fishing guide.