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Whether you're looking for a part-time summer job to earn a little spending money or starting your career, some basic rinciples and tips can help you land the job you really want.

The first step to getting a good job is to pray. Prayer is a key ingredient to success in any endeavor. Pray about each step in finding a position. God's involvement in your life will make the difference in finding true success. You can ask for guidance and insight into where to direct your work life and ask for help in opening doors to a fulfilling career.

After asking for God's help, do your homework. What jobs are available? Are you looking for something that will give you some information about a future career, or just something with good hours, location or pay? If you have the opportunity, work toward your career goals rather than taking any job available.

For example, if you think you may want to be a veterinarian, try the local vets' offices or the Humane Society or working on a local farm caring for livestock. You'll learn something about your career field and understand more about your own interests.

For example, I worked as an intern in a certified public accountant's office during college, didn't like it at all, and realized I didn't want to make that my career. First jobs are all about learning what you enjoy and what you don't.

Once you've selected some positions to apply for, the real challenge begins. First impressions happen only once, and you must be ready. I've known people who went into a workplace just to pick up an application but who were then introduced to the hiring manager, interviewed and hired (or not) before they had time to fill out the application!

Be prepared ahead of time and you won't be put on the spot.

Research the company and practice common interview questions.

Plan some questions to ask your potential employer.

Definitely look at the company Web site (if they have one) and see what they emphasize. Employers will be impressed if you've taken time to learn about them.

Fill out the application neatly, have your résumé, references, prior work information and a pen with you. When you go to the interview, be on time! In fact, 10 minutes early is about perfect.

Look the part. Consider the type of position you are applying for before you dress. I've known managers who would never consider hiring someone who came to interview in a suit because they felt the applicant wouldn't fit in the casual work environment.

Dress in accordance with the company's dress code.

What do the clothes say about you that the employer is interested in hearing? Modest, attractive, professional type clothes (and hairstyles) say you are ready for work. Dress the same way to get an application as you would for an interview.

Show proper confidence. If you don't believe you can do the job, they won't either! Most interviews start with the introductions and handshakes. Practice on some friends who will tell you if your handshake is too firm or too weak. Focus on making natural eye contact. It's not a stare-down contest, but don't be afraid to look up either.

And smile! You are bound to be nervous, but focus on communicating and getting to know the company. After all, an interview goes both ways. You have to decide if you want to work for them too.

Be your professional self. It's fine to show your personality in your responses, but this is not the time to tell your best jokes or unload your entire family history. Keep your comments pertinent and don't share overly personal information. Be honest, yet tactful, and avoid casual slang terms. Practicing answers to common interview questions ahead of time will help a great deal. The employer wants to get to know you, so don't try to act like someone else. Just act like the professional you.

At the close of the interview, request a business card so you can later make a follow-up call and send a thank-you card.

End the interview with a smile, a handshake, and ask to be chosen for the position if it's a job you'd like to have.

Additional considerations

The money question. How much will this position pay? It's better not to ask about the pay in a first interview. However, there are times to ask, especially if you get the sense during the interview that the position might pay less than you require.

As a potential employee, it is better to wait until you know they really want you before the subject comes up. But if it hasn't been discussed and they offer you the job, don't be afraid to ask. You want to know all of the terms before you accept a position.

The Sabbath question. How and when should you explain that you don't work on the Sabbath? First of all, ask what the work schedule is. If the schedule doesn't conflict with the Sabbath, there is no need to discuss your religious beliefs during the interview. If the schedule might conflict, you need to let the interviewer know that you would not be able to work during the conflicting times and why. Most employers in the United States are sensitive to religious beliefs and will adjust a schedule for a potential employee if the job allows. If they will not work with you, why would you want to work for them?

Work will fill more hours of your waking life than most of the rest of your activities combined, so make your job a learning experience you enjoy! VT

Career Tips

Knowing that many of our readers are trying to decide what careers to embark upon, Vertical Thought asked for suggestions from those who have recently found jobs about how they decided on a career or got the job. Here is some information that can be of help when you make these important decisions.

How summer camp helped me get a job
Jennifer Messerly, 25, After-School Program coordinator, Garrett County Health Department, Oakland, Maryland

I have always loved going to summer camp. I began going to church summer camps when I was 6 and rarely missed a summer after that. As soon as I was old enough to begin serving at camp, I jumped at the chance, and I have served at several summer camps over the past 10 years. Little did I know how beneficial this experience would be for me.

Two years ago I interviewed for a job as the coordinator of a middle school after-school program. During the interview I was asked to give an overview of my experience working with youth. I mentioned a few things I had done in the past, but the majority of my experience came from working at United Youth Camps.

I went into detail about the camp program and the service I had done for it. When I was finished answering the questions, I was told that was just the type of experience they were looking for. I have been at the job for the past two years and get to work with youth year-round. I never expected serving at summer camp would lead me to my dream job.

Not working on the Sabbath
Tony Antonacci, 34, EDS network security engineer

In my career I have had to deal with getting off for the Sabbath a lot during the last several years. In addition to bringing this concern to God and asking for His guidance and help, here is another approach that helped me a lot: creating a win-win situation for me and my employer. Creating a win-win situation means finding a solution where your employer benefits in exchange for giving you the Sabbath off.

When I got the job I now have at EDS, I almost was not hired after telling them about the Sabbath. The job I was applying for, a network security/firewall administrator position, occasionally requires employees to work on Saturdays if an emergency pops up. When a company's network is compromised, the company just doesn't want to wait until the Sabbath is over to stop a security breach or an attack on its network.

To convince EDS to hire me, I told them that I would be willing to work on Sundays and that I'd be willing to work on the days that almost everyone else wants off (Christmas, Christmas Eve, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.), and that I would work as a fill-in or longer hours for people who are on vacation.

By showing a willingness to make sacrifices to make up for getting the Sabbath off, they decided to hire me. I told them that I really wanted the job and that I thought we could come up with a win-win situation if they were willing to work with me. They were so impressed with my persistence and willingness to work at other times that they hired me. Now my not working on the Sabbath is not an irritation because everyone knows that I will work at other times when they don't want to.

Popular Interview Questions to Practice:

Tell me about yourself.
Why should we hire you?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Tell me about a problem situation and how you resolved it.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Why do you want to work for us?
Do you have any questions for us?
Why did you leave your last job?
What are your salary expectations?
How does your experience relate to our position?

Online Help

Great site with quizzes:

For the entry-level younger job seeker:

Use the internal search function for any specific information.

Good basic tips:

Sample résumés for students: