I don’t seem like the most qualified person to talk about jobs or job-hunting.

I never went through the process of looking for a job. I’ve never been to a job fair at least not with the intention of looking for a job), I’ve never submitted my resume to any of the firms that advertise in the classifieds, and the only interviews I’ve been given were formalities. I have never gone through the apply-the-wait-then-apply again cycle. My “head” has never been “hunted”, I’ve never been “pirated”, and I don’t think I ever will be,

It doesn’t seem like I’m the right person to tell you about the world of looking for work because I don’t live there.

But that’s exactly the reason why I (and others like me) should be talking. Anyone who has tons of experience looking for work isn’t likely to give you much helpful advice.

It’s a paradox, really; the most successful job hunters are those who don’t hunt at all, because unlike hunting for sport, job-hunting is supposed to stop when you hit your target. No one does it for leisure; It’s a necessity borne out of the system we have. But while It’s an important skills, It’s not like we’re cavemen who have to go out and hunt everyday, here’s no sense in “practicing” your job-hunting skills.

So we rely mostly on tips from people who were able to get the jobs/careers they want or are happy with. Which leads us to my first tip:

Look for the job you want.

Don’t apply for something just because everyone else seems to be applying for it. Know what you want and go for it. Hunters do not use shotguns (or dynamite), they use rifles. They go for precision, not maximum damage. While you may think that submitting your resume to every firm that asks for it is a good strategy, I believe it’s the wrong way to go.

Just imagine getting positive responses from the firms that you don’t like. It’ll present you with a quandary: do I say yes or do I hold out for something better? I’d rather not make that decision. Applying only for the jobs that you are willing to accept makes choosing easier.

But making your choices as an applicant is just half the deal. The other half calls for them to choose you.

Look for the job that wants you.

You want a good chance of getting that job you’re asking for and the best way to do that would be to make sure that you’re qualified for the position. This calls for you to know yourself.

Qualifications do not mean just the college degree and professional licenses. While it may tell us what we’re supposed to have learned, most people know that that isn’t always the case. Include former jobs (even practicum or part-time work) and participation in organizations. Your achievements here will often give a better idea of what you’re capable of. Also remember that a resume can work both ways. While we often see it as a tool to “sell” ourselves to others, it can also be used as a tool for a self-reflection.

Know yourself and make sure that you apply not only for jobs that you want, but also those that want you. This will increase your choices of landing that position and making sure you get a job that “fits.”

Know why you’re looking for a job

But in order to know what “fits” you, you have to get one thing clear. You have to know why you’re looking for a job. While it may seem like a silly question, different people will come up with different answers.

Some people want a job because they need the money. Others would be looking for fulfillment or a chance to prove themselves. Still others would claim to want to help others or make the world a better place. Any reason is valid as long as you’re clear about yours.

Knowing why would help in making your decision on what to apply for and which offers to choose. If you need money, then take the one that offers the most. If you want fulfillment, then take the one that gives you more challenges. There’s no sense in choosing a well-paying job you’re uninterested in or an interesting job that’ll work you to the bone without proper compensation.

Look for opportunities for growth

What you’re really looking for are not simply compensation and challenges, but compensation and challenges that will grow with you over time. There’s no sense in getting a job that might seem interesting at first but will eventually bore you. Looking for stability is one thing, inviting catatonia is another.

Make sure that the job you’re getting into is one that will allow you room to grow as a professional and as person, especially if you plan to stay long.

Try to get it over with ASAP

Most people believe that, “it’s the journey, not the destination.” This does not apply to job-hunting. This does not mean, though, that you should rush yourself. Job-hunting must take only as long as it is necessary. For some people it’s a few weeks. For others it’s over a year. Just remember, know what you want, know who wants you, know yourself, and know the reason why you’re job-hunting in the first place.

Oh, and try not to become an “expert” in looking for jobs.

Patrick Salamat has four jobs and claims to love all of them: he manages a graphic design firm, teaches at a computer college, writes for Aksyon Demokratiko, and organizes events and concerts. His fifth job is writing Missing Points, a thrice-weekly online column about Philippine politics and popular culture. Subscriptions is free, just send a blank email to missingpoints-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

By Patrick Salamat