Mark Edwards' job advice: Read, network and stay encouraged

Mark Edwards runs Philadelphia Works -- an important local agency in the effort to connect people to jobs. So, what's his advice for landing work? I asked him that question during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Here's his response:

Mark Edwards

"Read as many of the periodicals, local periodicals as you can to understand what’s happening in the city -- something new that’s happening, an employer that’s coming in. That's the importance of being up on current events.

"If you find that you are unemployed for a period of time, volunteer. Volunteer while you are still engaged in your job search. But, when you are volunteering, understand, that while you might just see it as a volunteer opportunity, every moment on the job as a volunteer is an interview. People are going to get a perception of you. They are going to have an experience with you. When you go to apply for a job in industry, they can serve as a reference. And, [there is evidence that] you are remaining active, you are keeping your skills up to date. That’s an important piece of advice."

Question: Any other advice?

Answer: "Yes, stay encouraged."

Q: That’s hard. Maybe that's what friends are for.

A: "Use your personal and social networks to gain insight and information as to where the opportunities are. I rarely turn down a request for an informational interview when a colleague refers somebody to me. I sit with the person, understand what they are interested in doing. From time to time, jobs come across my desk, and I keep them in a folder and I forward them on. Ask people to do informational interview, even if it’s not an interview for a job. That’s another piece of advice I give to job seekers."

Q: Anything else?

A: "Stay current on your technology skills. Places like CareerLinks, you can go there and get training on software. We have training available for over 490 Microsoft applications and they are up-to-date applications. They aren't the old version of the software."