Train for a Job
- Qualifying for a job — in other words, learning the specific skills necessary to begin working as a technician, or a welder, or a nurse, or in any other career.
- Getting a job — learning how to find the right place to work, and how to navigate your way through the application and hiring process.
- Achieving success in a job — learning how to do well in the culture of the workplace, with all of its procedures, problems, rules, and expectations.
Your career success depends on having all three types of skill. If you need training in any or all of these skills, you can get it.
Every job requires a set of skills. Some of these skills are very basic, while others are specific to particular types of jobs.
There are three basic things that almost everyone needs in order to qualify for a job:
- A High School Diploma or Equivalency Certificate: Technically this is not actually a skill. It's a certificate — a piece of paper. But if you don't have this piece of paper, it will be almost impossible for you to get a good job. Most employers simply will not consider hiring you. A high school diploma or certificate is a ticket to get into the job market.
- Fortunately, it is not too difficult for most people get a diploma or equivalency certificate, even if they had a bad experience in high school. More information can be obtained through Pitt Community College Transitional Studies:
Adult High School (493-7560) offers traditional classes for adults who wish to complete their high school educations.
PCC's High School Equivalency program allows students to earn equivalency certificates by passing tests in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. The program also includes classes to help students prepare for the tests. Students may choose among three equivalency tests: the General Education Development ("GED") test, the High School Equivalency Test ("HiSET"), and the Test of Adult Secondary Completion ("TASC").
PCC's Adult Basic Education ("ABE") and Adult Basic Literacy Education ("ABLE") programs (493-7377) offer instruction for adults who may not be able to schedule time for Adult High School, but need academic help to prepare for one of the high school equivalency tests.
ABLE is especially helpful in working with students who need to improve their skills in basic reading and writing. Other excellent resources can be found at Literacy Volunteers of Pitt County (353-6578).
- The Ability to Speak and Understand the English Language: Unless you work at one of the rare jobs where English is not used, or where someone is available to translate conversations with English-speaking customers, vendors, and others, you will probably have very limited career options unless you learn to speak English.
PCC offers free classes in English Language Acquisition (493-7213). These classes are designed to help people with little or no English language proficiency to develop their ability to speak, understand, read, and write English, and to perform basic math using English. The classes are also designed to provide transitions to high school equivalency, U.S. civics training, and post-secondary education.
Before beginning the classes, students must attend a 3-hour orientation session at the beginning of each semester. A schedule of upcoming orientation sessions is given on the PITTworks Home Page and Event Calendar.
- A Basic Level of Skill in Reading, Writing, and Math: Many people have acquired these skills by the time they finish high school. But not everyone does. Even if someone has their high school diploma, it will not allow them to get very far if they lack these fundamental skills.
In addition to the three basic qualifications described above, most well-paying jobs require specific training in particular skills. There are three ways to acquire this job-specific training:
- Work-based training, which is also known as on-the-job training ("OJT"). This includes training that people may receive through formal apprenticeships, or informally by working at their family's business or through self-study.
- Military service, which often includes training that can be applied to civilian jobs.
- Higher education at a university or community college, or specialized study at a vocational training program.
Pitt County has two large institutions of higher education. East Carolina University offers dozens of bachelor's degrees, which typically require four years of full-time study, as well as several graduate degrees. Pitt Community College focuses on more short-term training, most of which requires two years or less of study. PCC is also typically more accommodating for students who wish to study on a part-time basis.
Most of Pitt Community College's programs can be classified as either academic education, which includes detailed technical training, or continuing education, which includes more short-term programs. Students in most of PCC's programs are eligible for the same types of scholarships, grants, and loans that university students use.
However, PCC also offers many job training programs for which students can receive financial aid through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act ("WIOA"), a federal law that was passed in 2014. The WIOA provides money for students to learn occupations over a period that may be as short as a few months, and which rarely requires more than two years. For more information about the WIOA, please contact the NCWorks Career Center.
In addition to WIOA-approved programs, Pitt Community College also offers short-term training in other occupations, including courses for people who wish to become cosmetologists, barbers, auto salespeople, firefighters, and insurance agents.
PCC also offers support services to help students complete their training and achieve graduation. For example, TRiO offers academic and personal counseling and other services that may be especially useful for students who are the first in their families to attend college. PCC also offers free intensive tutoring, casual assistance and computer access for students at the Tutorial & Academic Success Center ("TASC") and the PCC Learning Center.
You can learn more about these training opportunities from your job counselor, or by contacting PCC Admissions at 493-7232.
Unfortunately, getting a job is usually more complicated than that. This might be clearer if we look at the hiring process from the employer's point of view.
While all employers hire people, none of them is in the business of hiring people. For example, the business of a hospital is not to hire people, but to care for patients. The business of an auto shop is to fix cars. The business of a grocery store is to sell groceries.
That's why no employer will be very concerned about how much you need or want a job. Employers are not generally cold or uncaring people. It's just that your needs don't have much to do with their businesses.
The success of their businesses mostly depends on meeting the needs of their customers, not the needs of job applicants. To get a job, you must convince an employer that you are ready and willing to meet the employer's needs.
And please keep in mind that you usually cannot get a job just because you are capable of doing the work. You must convince the employer that of all the people who are capable, ready and willing to do the job, you are the one person who would be the best choice.
Getting a job is competitive. And it is complicated because most employers use formal competitive processes designed to help them identify the best applicants. It is a lot like the rules of a sports tournament, which are designed help ensure that the best athletes win.
Like any good athlete, you need to know the rules and to get every possible advantage at every stage of the hiring process. The process usually includes three stages:
- Find job openings that you want to pursue, and which you have a reasonable chance of pursuing successfully. In other words, you should find jobs that you want to get, and employers who may want to get you.
- When you find a good job opening, apply for it. The purpose of applying is not to get the job, but simply to get the employer's attention and encourage the employer to invite you for an interview.
- Your job interview is like the championship game of a tournament. If you have a good interview — and if throughout the hiring process you communicate that you are reliable, honest, and skillful — you may be offered the job.
|Course||Number of Sessions in Course||Hours per Session||Number of Times Course is Offered in a Typical Month|
|Create a Dynamic Resume||1||2||1|
|Interpersonal Communication Skills||3||4||1|
|Overcoming Job Seeking Barriers||1||4||4|
|Secrets of Landing a Job||4||3||1|
Click here to see the dates, times, locations, and descriptions of these courses. You can also call 493-7576 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Click here to download a print-friendly copy of How to Get a Job (PDF).
So you know how to do your job, and you've been hired. Congratulations! You have successfully completed some of the hardest steps in building your career.
When people accept a job offer and shake hands with their new employer, they are usually very happy. And they should be. But later that day they may start to worry.
What if I mess up? What if I can't hack it? What if I don't like the people I am working with, or they don't like me?
These can turn into real problems for a lot of people. But instead of worrying, plan. There is usually more to job success than simply knowing how to do the job. Everyone runs into obstacles. And the best time to learn how to overcome obstacles is before you have to deal with them.
Why do people have problems at work? There are a few common types of problems:
Alcohol & Drug Abuse:
Alcohol or drug abuse can be career poison, whether you are job searching or already employed, and whether you do it while on or off the job.
You can be the most qualified job applicant in town. But if you can’t pass a pre-employment drug test you won’t get the job, and your job search will be a waste of time.
You can be the most competent and popular member of your employer's team. But if you show up drunk or high you’ll get fired.
That's the plain truth. If you need help changing a drug or alcohol habit, then get it. Don't put it off.
Here's one more tip: There are a lot of ways that people try to fake their way through drug tests. None of them work.
Success means doing good work, and being recognized and rewarded for it.
A guaranteed way to not do good work is to do is no work at all. A guaranteed way to do no work at all is to not be there to do it.
That's why employers value reliability more than any other single employee skill or characteristic. More than education, experience, or anything else.
But what if you don't have a reliable way to get to work? In fact, how can a person even get a job and some income if they don't have a car or other reliable transportation?
That's a sensible question. But it makes even more sense the other way around: How can a person get a car or other transportation if they don't have a job and some income?
It is generally easier to get income if you don't have your own transportation than it is to get your own transportation if you don't have income. So solve this problem the easiest possible way: Concentrate first on getting a job, then on getting regular transportation.
Once you get a job, you may be able to share transportation with someone who works at the same place or nearby, and who would appreciate a little help with gas money. Or you may be able to get rides from friends or relatives who want to help you succeed. Or they could let you borrow their cars. Or you might be able to use public transportation.
You may even be able to get a loan to buy your own car, especially after a couple of months on the job.
But what if you don't have a driver's license as a result of DUIs or other problems? Don't be shy: Write to the judge about how you are staying straight, trying to work, and doing the right thing. The judge may decide to encourage you by lifting your restrictions. If you think this never happens, you're wrong.
This is a problem you can solve — as long as you don't give up.
Conflicts With Other People:
Think of all the people you have ever met. You have liked some of them. You have not liked others. Some of them have liked you. Others have not liked you. That's natural.
Having a job means working with other people who you have not chosen. You will get along better with some of them than with others.
Being friends with people at work is a good thing. But your job is not to be friends with people. Your job is to work with them. You will almost certainly have to work with some people you don't like.
If you remember a few simple tips, you may find there are very few people you can't work with:
- Treat everyone with respect, and if possible with kindness.
- Don't be too quick to be offended. Everyone has bad days.
- If you find yourself getting mad regularly, or if someone gets mad at you regularly or treats you badly, try to talk it out with them respectfully and privately. Don't complain about them to others. Be willing to listen and to compromise.
If you can't talk it out directly, ask for help from your boss or your employer's Human Resources Department.
It all comes down to respect, honesty, clarity, and staying focused on getting work done as a team.
Failure to Follow Rules:
A rule has to be followed even when people don't want to. Otherwise it would be called a suggestion.
Every workplace depends on rules. Rules define how everyone's jobs fit together. Not following the rules is the quickest and surest way to fail.
But what if the boss who makes the rules is a jerk? Well, some bosses are.
Most of us have acted like jerks at some point, so maybe we should try to get along with others when they act like jerks too. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to say “I’ll show them: I’ll fail!”
What if the rules are stupid or pointless? One characteristic of good employees is their willingness to suggest improvements, so maybe you could tactfully propose a rule change.
But if the rule doesn’t change, remember this: The reason your employer pays you money is because you are not doing things that you would happily do for free.
If you have a hard time taking rules seriously, that's something you should work on.
Click here to download a print-friendly copy of Achieve Success in a Job (PDF).
Is any of it right for you? What if you have a dream that you want to follow? What if you want to be your own boss? What if you want to pursue your passion?
These are important questions that only you can answer. Before starting any training program or deciding on any job, it is important to consider your options.