It is usually said that the “labour market is tight”. The number of school graduates that churn out of tertiary institutions every year is over 100,000 (World Bank Report -2018), and therefore competition for jobs is keen. Are governments creating new jobs quickly to meet the current growing demands? Is there a positive correlation between the number of graduates from our universities, technical or vocational schools and availability of job opportunities? Besides new graduates on the job market, there are also experienced people within the working class who are looking to change jobs at every point in time.
In spite of this seemingly gloomy picture, there are individuals who are being successful in their job-hunting expeditions. They land some very juicy roles, progress in their careers and can be said to be winning at this hunting ground. It is time to reflect and find out what these individuals are doing differently that makes them meet the expectations of the prospective employers.
From an HR perspective and with experience from my practice, I will share a few tips that can be helpful in the search for new opportunities in the corporate environment. Technical skills are important; however, employers look beyond that and focus on soft skills that will enable one to excel.
- Knowing exactly what you want
It is disappointing when job seekers are unsure of what they want or the areas in which they are considering for employment. The typical answer to which areas are you considering in your job search is, “oh anything… I am a graduate”. What is “anything”? As a job seeker, you should carefully research and think through your interests and strengths so that you are guided by that to communicate clearly the possible areas of consideration.
- Putting together your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
The CV does not necessarily get you the job, but it is a means to opening the door to be invited for an interview or even a chat with the hiring manager. It is essential that it is carefully done and thoroughly reviewed to eliminate grammatical errors. It does not have to be lengthy. It should be a chronological summary about yourself, work experience, significant achievements relevant to the role, hobbies and digital literacy, among others. Is a picture necessary? For me, it depends, if it is a requirement for the job. Otherwise, my answer is “no”. You do not need to attract unnecessary attention. Your CV should be fit for purpose.
- Prepare for interviews
Always enquire about the role description when you are invited for an interview so that you adequately research and prepare for it. Research about the job and the company and the industry.
- “Netiquette” – social media presence
“Netiquette” a coinage for the rules that apply when communicating online, is very important. In recent times, online recruitment has become the order of the day, typically via linked-in. Employers, during recruitment, may check on prospective candidates’ social media platforms to gather more information and also to ascertain the culture fit. It is important to be mindful about the appropriateness of what is displayed on one’s profiles and pages, the things liked or commented on, as well as images uploaded. Research has indicated some candidates have been rejected based on their social media postings. Such posts included profanity, alcoholic sprees and other unacceptable features that do not align with the organisation’s culture. It is indeed time to clean up our social media platforms and view it from the perspective of a potential employer. “Remember, the internet never forgets”.
- Appropriate dressing
It does not matter whether you are being interviewed in-person or virtually, you have to dress to suit the occasion and the job in question. Even if it is virtual, appear very professional and do not take the opportunity for granted. I once interviewed a very brilliant lady for an entry level role. She came in well dressed with a ton of metal bracelets around her wrist. Whenever she answered a question, she lifted up her hand and there went the clanging sound of the bracelets. It was very irritating and very displeasing to the interviewing panel.
- Ability to communicate
Employers are seeking candidates who are able to express themselves very well both in writing and in speech. Clear, rich but simple and precise language is usually the best. Both verbal and non-verbal ques are essential in communication. As it is said, the first five minutes of any interview is “show time’ so it is essential to make a good and lasting impression. Relax and speak confidently.
- Digital literacy
How good are you on the computer? What is your proficiency level? With the new normal, digital literacy has become the order of the day. As a prospective employee, there is the need to add value to oneself in this area.
- Work Experience
Every employer is happy with an employee who is knowledgeable. They may require some level of experience. For new graduates, the avenues to achieve some work experience include internships (paid or unpaid), volunteerism, church activities and charity work. Actively take an interest in social work.
- Good Attitude
It is said that technical skills can be trained but attitude is key. Having the right attitude opens doors. Be Ready, Able and Willing (R.A.W) to learn and grow. In conclusion, to compete and win in the job market, we have to project ourselves positively and be prepared adequately at all times.