One of the most effective methods for finding a job is making direct contact with employers. There are five ways you can do this.

  1. Use the telephone
    Few people enjoy making cold calls to strangers, especially since doing so results in many rejections. However, job seekers who contact numerous employers by phone do generate job interviews. In fact, this is the fastest way to get job interviews.

    Make 100 phone calls to inquire about job vacancies and you may be able to generate one or two job interviews. But you must be willing to make many phone calls and endure numerous rejections.

    Most people you call will politely tell you they have no jobs at present. But persistence will pay off. You will eventually uncover job vacancies for which you qualify.

    Use the Yellow Pages as your directory for identifying potential employers.

    When making your calls, have a prepared outline of points to cover in front of you from which you:
    • Quickly introduce yourself
    • Ask about job vacancies
    • Request a job interview
    • Thank the person for his/her time and consideration
    Don't write it out word for word and read it over the phone. You want to sound spontaneous.

  2. Send e-mail
    If you use the Internet, you should explore the websites of employers. While many of these websites will post employment opportunities, others may not. If they don't, send an e-mail inquiring about such opportunities.

  3. However, if you can find a phone number, it's best to make a telephone call rather than wait for an e-mail reply. Many companies automatically delete unsolicited e-mail inquiries. E-mail is no substitute for using the telephone, which is more efficient and effective than e-mail.

  4. Go door to door
    Many job seekers are successful in finding jobs by literally showing up at the doors or work sites of employers and asking about job opportunities. This approach requires a great deal of initiative, entrepreneurship, and a willingness to accept rejections as part of the game.

    Many businesses, such as large retail stores (WalMart, K-Mart, Target, Home Depot), grocery stores, restaurants, and banks, are well organized to handle walk-in job seekers. You may be asked to sit at a computer or "job kiosk" to complete an electronic application, or you will be given a paper application to complete.

    Others, such as construction firms, often welcome individuals to show up at their job sites for work. If you walk into a small business, such as a warehouse, auto repair shop, or construction company, you may be able to meet directly with the owner and ask about job opportunities.

    Timing is the key to such walk-in approaches - if you happen to arrive at the right time, you may get lucky and be offered a job.

    If you use this approach, be prepared for many rejections. However, if you persist and visit 100 employers, chances are you will uncover one or two job opportunities for which you qualify.

  5. Hang around busy corners
    Day-laborer sites, both formal and informal, are used a great deal by immigrants and individuals with limited skills and education. Day-laborer sites may be found on a busy street corner or adjacent to a convenience store or vacant lot.

    Employers - usually homeowners or subcontractors who need cheap day laborers - may stop to check who is available for a few hours or a day or two of temporary work. Most work is physical labor - landscaping, roofing, gardening, construction - and wages are usually negotiated on an hourly, daily, or per job basis.

    Cities in some states, such as California, Washington, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, and Washington, DC, actually sponsor formal day-laborer sites where employers can come to hire laborers.

    Day-laborer centers offer employment options for poor people who lack sufficient education and skills, and who are willing to tolerate unstable and often exploitative work (many are cheated by unscrupulous employers) situations. In fact, some studies show that nearly 25 percent of day laborers prefer such unstable work situations to other types of employment. Many can make $80 to $100 or more a day by just showing up when they want to work.

    Day-laborer experiences may turn into full-time jobs, especially with subcontractors who decide to hire the best of the many day laborers they have worked with and thus have a chance to screen the workers' on-the-job behavior.

  6. Attend job fairs
    One of the best ways for ex-offenders to contact employers directly is to attend job fairs. The typical job fair is held in a large conference room of a hotel or a public building and takes place over one day . often from 9am to 4pm.

    Many employers have representatives at tables or booths who advertise their company or organization and are looking for candidates who meet their hiring requirements. Job seekers circulate among the various displays as they try to learn more about the organizations, pick up literature, talk with a representative, and leave a resume.

    Job fairs can be very enlightening experiences for job seekers, especially if they find a good selection of employers and if the job fair also includes special job search workshops, such as writing resumes, interviewing for jobs, or using a job fair in your job search.

    Job fairs for ex-offenders are great places to find employment since employers have already indicated, by their participation, that they are willing to hire ex-offenders. However, employers attending such job fairs are not looking for just any ex-offenders - they want to hire the best of the best who have basic education and workplace skills.

SOURCE: Adapted from Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.D.s, The Ex-Offender's Job Hunting Guide (Manassas Park, VA: Impact Publications). Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.