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"Get A Job!" - Notes For Beginners

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Get a job! Shana na na. Shana na
na naff!! (The Silhouettes, 1958)

It sounds so simple. But what a
piece of work we make of it. We
write resumes, cover letters and
thank-you notes. We go to job fairs
and visit counselors. We interview
and are interviewed. We wait. We
worry.
This is a new experience for students looking for their first jobs.
And their teachers may feel as if
they are looking back in time,
because job hunting is a task almost
everyone faces. Yet because each job
seeker is unique, each job search is a
personal test. Many young people
must overcome youthful insecurities and avoid common psychological traps. Educators, who have
looked for wor~ before, can help.
But how to begin? What do students
need to know about the job market,
and how can they take advantage of
the new realities of today's economy? In short, how can educators
make the work-world less
frightening?
Begin with the "big picture." The
work-world is a market, just like
other markets. Employers and
workers bid for "services"; just as
potential employees sell labor and
skills, employers offer salaries and
benefits. The same demand-andsupply forces that drive product
markets affect the job market. The
United States has one of the world's
most attractive job markets because
of the size and diversity of its
economy.
Our job market is changing now.
In the years after World War II the
United States was the dominant

Many employers must interview applicants to make hiring decisions.

manufacturing power. Our factories
were not damaged by the war, and
in fact expanded. Our highly educated population set the standard
for others to follow-and follow it
they have. Now many of the goods
that we once made for the rest of the
world, and ourselves, are made by
foreign competitors. Our industries
have been forced to change as more
products can now be made more
cheaply overseas. This "structural"
change has displaced some older
workers, and forced companies to
make changes in the workplace. We
are not the preeminent goodsproducing nation today, but growth
has occurred in other sectors, most
notably in industries like health
care, education, retailing, financial
services and government. The

"i nformation revolution" that
began here has allowed our economy to continue generating new
jobs, even as our manufacturing
base shrinks. We are moving to a
"service economy."
Young job seekers will face a different mix of possibilities than their
parents did. During the next decade
most of the world's production jobs
will be offered overseas. According
to a recent study done for the U.S.
Labor Department, by 1995 only 8%
of all American jobs will be in manufacturing. Over 90% will be in services. Many of these jobs will require
skills that did not exist even a few
years ago. This is an important fact
that young people should know.
The changing composition of our

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Vol. 14, No. 1 - February 1988

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job market increases demand for
young workers. Older workers,
who have spent their careers in production jobs, may not be flexible
enough, or even willing, to learn
new skills . Young job seekers have
an advantage in this economy.
How should young people begin
a job search? Too often they are told
to begin with a resume. But even
the most carefully prepared lesson
on resume writing will not motivate
everyone to put pen to paper. Students that lack job experience or
self-confidence can fall into a trap
that catches many job seekers-the
"no experience trap." When people
ask themselves "How do I apply for
a job when I don't have any skills?",
they have fallen into this trap . It is
the old "chicken or the egg" riddle
in career terms. The question presumes that "skills" are all employers want. And because the resume
focuses on education and narrowly
defined skills, job seekers tend to
see no way around the question.
Richard Nelson Bowles, in his
workbook What Color Is Your Parachute?, puts it this way:
Many people just "freeze"
when they hear the word
"skills." It begins with high
school job hunters : "I haven' t
really got any skills," they say. It
continues with college students:
"I've spent four years in college. I haven't had time to pick
up any skills." All this fright
about the word "skills" is very
common, and it stems from a
total misunderstanding of what
the word means.*
To free young people from this
trap, have them begin with an exercise in self-examination about jobs.
What kind of job do I want? What is
it like? The answers can cover a lot of
ground. How much money (first of
all) do I need? What kind of benefits
do I want? Do I want to advance in
this position? What about on-thejob-training? What kind of organization offers this job? This is the first
step .
Thinking about "ideal" jobs is a
kind of self-analysis, because a person can decide what matters most.
With an ideal in mind, young people can look at a range of possibilities, tailoring their abilities to the
job, rather than particular "skills."
Bowles has noted that you can "call

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them by other names-and many
prefer to: gifts, talents, aptitudes.
The name does not matter. Whatever you call them, they are the
essence of what you have to contribute to the world of work."** The
process of self-examination reverses
the usual resume procedure and
allows students to be imaginative.
In fact, the more careful the questioning, the better the final resume
will be. This first step should point
out directions, and not close them
off.

a company, and the positions go
either to "insiders" or to applicants
who have made themselves known
to potential employers . The
research phase of the job hunt
should bring the ideal job into focus,
and reveal where it is offered. If students have decided to try for jobs in
a particular business, they should
go directly to employers in that business. A thorough researcher will
find out who and where the employers are, and then learn whatever he
or she can about those firms .

Technology is changing the nature of the workplace.

Some questions do not have pat
answers . Even simple questions like
"How much should this job pay?"
may need to be researched . So
research is the second step of a job

Calls and visits to employers
should generate applications and
interview sessions. This final phase
of the search may frighten applicants of any age, despite the fact

search. Answers to specific ques-

that interviews are a critical tool for

tions will come from job directories
in school guidance offices, or from
employers themselves. Very few
answers will come from newspaper
want ads . Young people should
avoid beginning a job search with
want ads .
In any large city only 20% of the
available jobs are advertised in the
newspapers. Job seekers looking for
these jobs are competing with hundreds of others. And often, only the
highest and lowest paying jobs are
advertised. The majority of job
openings are initially posted within

employers who must make hiring
decisions . Here again, young job
seekers should remember that they
are selling youth and the potential
to grow in a position . Employers
offer interviews to likely candidates,
so getting an interview lined up is a
good sign.

*Richard Nelson Bowles, What Color Is Your
Parachute?, 1987 edition.
(IO-Speed Press, 1987) Pg. 68
**Ibid, pg. 68

Just what happens in an interview? At this point, the job seeker is
a candidate. He or she learns more
about the employer's needs, and the
facts about working for that company. Even here the questioning will
continue. This is where candidates
bring questions research could not
answer : questions about salary,
responsibilities, benefits, related
positions , training and career
growth opportunities . The

A heat and air conditioning technician on the
job at the Boston Fed.

Some answers can be found in the school guidance office or library.

employer will have questions, of
course, and the most productive
interviews involve give-and-take
between people. "People" is a key
word. A certain nervousness is
understandable, but there is nothing to be afraid of, and every reason
to look forward to interviews.
Employers want applicants to be
themselves .
The process of looking for work is
time-consuming, and sometimes as

difficult as most jobs. The challenge
of motivating young people to take
charge of their job searches is in
overcoming their fear of the process .
Good humor and patience are useful throughout, but it is selfconfidence that will carry the day.
The job search should be an enterprise, rather than a painful chore.
Without self-confidence, every setback can seem like a roadblock. Yet

young people need to overcome
most of their anxieties at the beginning of the process. Educators
should begin by emphasizing that
young people bring flexibility and
almost unlimited potential to the job
market. Finally, teachers can only
repeat what they already know
about job hunting: a satisfying job
"turns up" if you look hard enough
for it.
- Contributed by Angelo Veneziano

Multi-Media

lie Services Dept. , Federal Reserve
Bank of Boston, Boston, MA 02106,
phone (617) 973-3459.
Public Debt: Private Credit,
booklet, published by the Federal
Reserve Bank of Chicago, 14 pages .
Many economists are concerned
about the rise in the public debt and
the size of recent deficits . While
some economists feel that federal
debt is not necessarily bad, others
argue that large federal budget deficits place substantial burdens on the
economy.
Readers who want to learn more
about these concerns should take a
look at Public Debt: Private Credit, a
new booklet from the Federal
Reserve Bank of Chicago . Public
Debt: Private Credit offers a clear, concise look at : 1) the nature of debt
itself, and 2) how and from whom
the government borrows money.

Copies of Public Debt: Private Credit
are available free of charge. To order,
please contact: Public Information
Center, Federal Reserve Bank of
Chicago, P.O. Box 834, Chicago, IL
60690; phone (312) 322-5111.

Regulating the Economy, booklet,
published by the Federal Reserve
Bank of St. Louis, 27 pages.
Economic regulation has sparked
a lot of controversy in recent years .
Many have urged that it be reduced .
In their judgement, costs of regulation exceed the benefits. But others
have argued that regulatory activity
should be expanded .
Regulating the Economy discusses
the eco nomic principles that underlie regulation, and it discusses four
"real-world" examples of government regulation. For a free copy of
Regulating the Economy, please contact: Public Information, Federal
Reserve Bank of St. Louis, P.O. Box
442, St. Louis, MO 63166, phone
(314) 444-8421; or Publications, Pub-


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A Revision and a
"New" Program
The Bank's Career Awareness slide/
lecture program for visiting student
groups was recently revised. In
addition, the Public Services
Department now offers a version of
the Career Awareness program that
can be presented in the classroom .
Call (617) 973-3451 if you would like
to schedule this program, or any
others offered by the Bank.

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Fed Update
Contest Winners Visit the Boston Fed

the

LEDGER
Editor: Robert Jabaily
Graphics Arts Designer: Ernie Norville

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Photo by Wilson Snow

Last spring, we invited Ledger readers to take part in a Constitution Coin
Design Competition. After much deliberation, we finally selected five winners

This newsletter is published periodically as
a public service by the Federal Reserve Bank
of Boston. Th e reporting of news about
eco nomi c educa ti on program s and
materials shou ld not be constru ed as a
specific endorsem ent by the Ban k. Further,
the material contained herein does not
necessarily reflect the views of the Federal
Reserve Bank of Boston or the Board of
Governors. Copies of this newsletter and a
catalogue of other educational materials
and research publications may be obtained
free of charge by w riting: Bank and Public
Information Center, Federal Reserve Bank
o f Boston , Boston , MA 02106 , or by
calling: (617) 973-3459.

from the many fine entries we received. The winning entries appeared in the
June 1987 issue of Ledger (Vol. 13, No . 2). But we also wanted to do something
special for the contest winners along with their teachers and parents, so we
invited them all to visit the Bank and join us for lunch. We hope they enjoyed
the day as much as we did.

------------------------- -------------------------MIDDAY MUSIC AT THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF BOSTON

A series of midday musical performances continues at the Federal Reserve
Bank of Boston. All performances begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Bank's auditorium. Each is approximately 40 minutes and is open to the public at no charge.
The auditorium 1s located on the ground floor of the Federal Reserve building,
600 Atlantic Avenue, across from South Station.
The spring schedule is as follows:
Thursday, March 3
Thursday, March 10
Thursday, March 17
Thursday, March 24
Friday, April 1
Thursday, April 7
Friday, April 15
Friday, April 22
Thursday, April 28
Thursday, May 5
Thursday, May 12
Thursday, May 19
Thursday, May 26

Lucienne Davidson, All-Chopin piano concert
Concert Dance Company of Boston
- New England Conservatory Honors Group
- Longy School of Music, Boston String Quartet
- Longy School of Music, Ariel Quintet
- New England Conservatory Honors Group
- New England Conservatory Honors Group
- Boston University School of Music
- Boston University School of Music
- Boston University School of Music
- Longy School of Music
- M.I.T Brass Ensemble
- Doris Marian, lyric soprano
and Henry Weinberger, piano
Programs are subject to change without notice . Call (617) 973-3453 for recorded
program information.

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