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Job Hunting — Searching for the Right Opportunity

Whether someone is starting a career or seeking a better position, finding the perfect job in Houston is enhanced by the fact that the city has a wide variety of resources available to the job seeker and possesses a vibrant economy that creates numerous opportunities.

Many Houston newcomers relocate to the Bayou City as part of a company transfer or a career switch, with a new job already secured. But often, they are accompanied by a spouse or other family members who need to find a job. Even current Houston area workers often have children who need a job for the summer or a permanent position after graduation. No matter the circumstance, Houston has the resources to help job seekers of all types achieve their goal.

With a growing workforce of 2.6 million in the eight-county Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area, Houston offers many career possibilities to keep active job seekers busy. Employment opportunities abound for the professional, the technical worker, the skilled worker and the student.

Job Search Tips

Employment experts advise to search for work with a positive attitude and determination. Job leads can come from many sources, including talking to people, checking out personnel services, answering newspaper ads, searching the Internet and inquiring about local professional networks and hotlines in specific industries.

The WorkSource is a network of 36 career centers located throughout the Gulf Coast region that provides free job services. The Houston area career centers are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and some locations offer extended and Saturday hours. Locations are listed in the Houston telephone directory or on the Internet at www.theworksource.org.

The WorkSource maintains an extensive database of positions open in the local job market and attempts to match job candidates with openings. The centers also offer information that can be used to research prospective employers and identify growing industries and occupations. Each center has a resource room stocked with employer and business directories, community newspapers, online job postings and videos on job search and interviewing techniques.

Another employment resource is the Texas Workforce Commission, a state-sponsored coalition of 28 local workforce development boards that provides jobs listings, placement services and resources such as computers, printers and fax machines for job seekers searching for work electronically. Information on the Texas Workforce Commission's resources is available by calling local offices listed in Houston area telephone directories or on the Internet at www.twc.state.tx.us .

Other avenues for job hunting include the Web pages of large and mid-size companies, and local librarians are very helpful in assisting job seekers to find directories that list companies in specific fields. University alumni magazines and directories often list current companies and titles of their graduates. In addition to the Houston Public Library, job seekers can visit libraries at Houston's colleges and universities.

Opportunities Abound

The Houston area offers employment for people with all types of skills and educational levels. Be sure to check the Houston Chronicle , the city's largest daily newspaper, which has one of the most extensive employment classified sections in the nation. Also, free publications such as The Employment Guide and Greensheet feature employment openings. Many local communities have newspapers that list jobs specifically for their coverage area.

In addition to looking through classified advertisements, job seekers can review the business sections of the Houston Chronicle and Houston Business Journal for information about companies that are expanding in the area.

Company Lists

Greater Houston Partnership publications also can help the job seeker. Business Houston lists the top companies in more than 30 industry sectors plus Houston's top 300 employers. Others, such as International Houston , Health Care Houston , Energy Capital Houston and Technology Houston can help acquaint newcomers with trends in different industries.

Networking

The ability to network is considered as important in finding a job as combing through classified ads. To network, job seekers should contact everyone they know in the area. Professionals also can find contacts by attending seminars, conferences, community meetings, volunteer groups, hobby clubs and professional association activities.

Houston is home to local chapters of professional associations in almost every field. Contact professional organizations in fields of interest through the telephone directory or the Encyclopedia of Associations , which is found in most libraries. Many activities are listed in the Houston Chronicle business section's "Calendar of Events" each Sunday. Job hunters also may contact people who work in a specific field to inquire about professional associations in the Houston area.

Read publications from these associations and contact their job hotlines and Web sites. Attend meetings and exchange business cards. Later, contact the people from the meeting and inquire about job openings.

The Partnership hosts more than 1,000 networking events annually. Visit the "Calendar of Events" on www.houston.org for a complete listing.

Internet

Use the Internet to locate job openings at companies, professional associations, universities, school districts, federal, state, county and city governments and many more places. Houston area public libraries provide free Internet access. The Texas Workforce Commission also provides a variety of resources, including Internet access, to search for a job.

Some career resources on the World Wide Web include:

•  Greater Houston Partnership's "Find a Job in Houston" Web site ( www.houston.org/job/index.html ) - Provides a direct link to the career pages of many of Houston's largest and most prominent companies. All are members of the Partnership. Additionally, it provides a link to the WorkinTexas.com Web site (see listing on page 239).

•  America's Job Bank ( www.ajb.dni.us ) - Provides job listings collected by the U.S. Department of Labor from various state employment commissions.

•  CareerMag.com ( www.careermag.com ) - Search by job title and city.

•  CareerBuilder ( www.careerbuilder.com ) - Combines the employment ads from daily newspapers in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta and Houston.

•  Careers in Government ( www.careersingovernment.com ) — Offers state, county and municipal government job postings. Post resumes online and receive e-mail notification when an opening matches the qualifications.

•  EmploymentGuide.com ( www.employmentguide.com ) - Offers searchable job listings, free resume posting and e-mail notification of new openings.

•  Hoover's Online ( www.hoovers.com ) - Provides great resources to research companies.

•  Houston Chronicle Classifieds ( www.chroniclejobs.com ) - Search the Houston Chronicle interactive employment classifieds for job leads.

•  JobWeb ( www.jobweb.org ) - Provides information specific for college students and recent graduates.

•  Monster ( www.monster.com ) - Offers one of the biggest and most successful Web-based job sites especially for high-tech positions.

•  WorkinTexas.com ( www.workintexas.com ) - Features Texas' most comprehensive online job resources.

Using Technology

It is useful for local job hunters to become familiar with the resources available electronically. Computer technology allows individuals to network with people around the country and the world, access information on job openings in other locations, broadcast resumes and research potential employers — all from a home or office. While electronic job search strategies are no substitute for direct, face-to-face contact and other more traditional strategies, there are many ways to gain an advantage in a competitive job market.

•  Use proper etiquette ("netiquette"); always think before sending a message.

•  Never write messages that are inappropriate for public viewing.

•  Completely refrain from sending abusive, harassing or bigoted messages.

•  Electronic job search correspondence requires the same level of professionalism as traditional methods. Avoid being too casual when online.

•  Keep the length of e-mail messages reasonable.

•  Always use correct grammar and spelling.

•  Do not send messages in "ALL CAPS," which can be interpreted as yelling at an individual.

•  Keep in mind that cyberspace is a busy place. Popular services can be difficult to access during peak hours. Instead, try to access such services late at night or early in the morning.

•  Since the Internet is not under the control of one person or organization, services and addresses can change at any time. Duplication is not uncommon.

Personnel/Staffing Services

Many personnel and/or staffing services in Houston offer full-time or temporary placement. Client companies pay the fee for most full-time personnel services. There are a few personnel services where the applicant pays the fee, so it is important to determine who is responsible for any fees before registering with a personnel service.

Temporary jobs are plentiful in Houston, and many types of positions are available since most industries use temporary employees. Many temporary services specialize in specific types of jobs. Advertisements in the SBC Yellow Pages can help individuals determine which personnel services will meet their needs, or job seekers can contact the companies to find out what types of services they provide.

Engineers, attorneys, accountants and information technology professionals are especially in demand for temporary or contract positions. Also, there is a high demand for temporary workers for industrial, secretarial, bookkeeping, telemarketing, clerical, receptionist, customer service and other types of positions.

Numerous temporary jobs turn into full-time positions. In fact, many companies prefer to hire through the temp-to-hire process. It gives both the applicant and the company a "try-out" period before the temporary employee converts to the company's full-time payroll.

Resume Services

The value of having a strong resume cannot be overstated because resumes are an important aspect of getting an interview. For this reason, an applicant should target his or her resume and cover letter to a specific industry or business.

The resume should be clean, concise and accurate, emphasizing the best qualities and most recent experience of the job seeker. Resumes should be no longer than two pages, but a one-page resume is better. People will take an average of 20 seconds to scan a resume to determine if they will read further. In large companies, human resource personnel who know little about a particular type of work often prescreen resumes.

The resume should encourage the reader to take a closer look at the individual's qualifications and lead to an interview. Good books on resumes are available at libraries and bookstores and can help the job seeker make their resume sparkle. One of Houston's many resume services can help prepare a professional-looking resume. Also, many copy facilities employ desktop publishing professionals who have experience in writing resumes.

Career Counseling

Many sources of job and career counseling are available in Houston. Also, area universities and colleges may provide education programs for people looking for their place in the job market.

Companies licensed by the state assist people in their job search through aptitude testing, resume writing and interview role-playing exercises. These companies charge a fee for their services, which usually do not include finding jobs for their clients. Job seekers should make sure the company is licensed and that the fee, and what it encompasses, are clearly understood.

Job Hunting For Dummies , Robert Half and Max Messner Jr., 1999.

Job-Hunting on the Internet , Richard Nelson Bolles, 1999.

The 250 Job Interview Questions You'll Most Likely Be Asked...and the Answers That Will Get You Hired!, Peter Veruki, 1999.

Major in Success: Make College Easier, Fire Up Your Dreams, and Get a Very Cool Job , Patrick Combs and Jack Canfield, 2000.

Power Interviews: Job-Winning Tactics from Fortune 500 Recruiters , revised and expanded edition, Neil M. Yeager, 1999.

What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers (2001 Edition), Richard Nelson Bolles, 2000.

The Houston Work Environment

— Workforce

Demands for high-tech skills in fields such as energy, aerospace and computer programming have honed the skills of Houston's workforce. Health care occupations such as home health aides, nurses, medical records technicians and medical assistants also are in high demand.

Today, there are more than 2.6 million people in Houston's metropolitan workforce, and the area is projected to continue as a leading employment center. Predictably, the occupations in which Houston enjoys a competitive advantage are those industries such as oil and gas, geology, construction, chemicals, aerospace, information technology and medicine.

— Multilingual Skills

One of Houston's strengths is its multicultural population, which means a multitude of languages are spoken in the city. The workforce reflects this diversity and brings multilingual skills to a receptive international market.

Many jobs in Houston require bilingual skills, especially in English and Spanish, thanks in part to the North American Free Trade Agreement and the city's Latin American relationships.

The Partnership's 2004 International Houston database lists more than 3,500 Houston area firms, foreign government offices and nonprofit organizations involved in international business. Also, Houston is home to 82 consular offices, 36 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations, and 19 foreign banks from 10 nations. Foreign nationals should contact consular offices representing their home country to obtain advice and suggestions for job placement.

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