The Covid-19 national lockdown has had severe effects on global economies and South Africa is no exception.
So, unfortunately many people currently find themselves in the job market again. Whatever your reasons may be for seeking a new employer, selling yourself well can help you get hired sooner, rather than later. And it starts a few important touches.
1. Get your CV right
Think of your CV as a brochure that sells you as an exciting new product. When you’re looking to buy something and are doing your research, you don’t want to be overwhelmed with information. You need to know what the product is and what it can do for you – as quickly as possible.
There’s no need to put a header at the top that says “CV” or “Curriculum Vitae”, because anyone who is looking at the document will know what it is. Start with your name, contact details and job title. You can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile if it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Next, create a short personal profile – no more than two to three lines. This is your main “sales” statement to the prospective employer, so be sure to highlight your best professional qualities. Follow that with your work experience and responsibilities in point form, then your qualifications and finally, references. Don’t include a photograph of yourself on your CV. CV Library has some slightly more detailed tips.
2. Write a great cover letter
Before your future employer has even looked at your CV, they’re going to read the email it’s attached to. So, this is a real opportunity for you to stand out. Depending on the employer, some cover letters can simply be written in the body of the email. In more corporate or formal environments, a letter attached to the email is preferred.
There are three things a cover letter should be doing for a prospective employer:
- Telling them who you are and what your desired job title is;
- Briefly summarising your experience; and
- Telling them why you are the right fit for the position (based on the job description).
Keep it as concise as possible and tailor-make every cover letter for each job you apply for. Keeping it personal shows that you have paid attention to what the employer is asking for. Career Junction has a few pointers that may help.
3. The all-important interview
Once your professionally crafted CV and brilliantly written cover letter have secured you an interview, it’s time to impress in person. Start by doing thorough research on the company that is interviewing you. Familiarise yourself with their products or services and their culture.
Practice answers to standard interview questions you’re likely to get and also remember that you are interviewing the employer to an extent. So, prepare your own questions beforehand, for example, “What would my daily responsibilities be?” and “What is the internal process for that?”
Being well-informed is the secret ingredient to having a successful interview. And if you have done your research before the interview, you are likely to appear more confident, too. Knowledge is the best way to calm those nerves.
4. Upskill yourself
The more you can do, the broader your options are for employment. If you have the benefit of time while you’re looking for a new job, take a moment to think about how you could improve your skills to make yourself more “employable”.
Taking an online course is never a bad idea. And there are quite a few sites that offer courses at no charge. Coursera offers free and paid courses in a number of fields and Udemy offers paid courses in anything from IT to photography.
The kind of upskilling you do will obviously depend entirely on what your chosen profession is. Whatever that may be, it never hurts to learn something new – even if it’s just for personal peace of mind.
5. Broaden your horizons
You can do whatever you like for a living. And if it’s taking a while to find a job in the field you have chosen, you could always look at finding alternative means of income or at least broadening your search. You can do this in the real world or online, depending on your skillset.
If you’re in the job market, the most important thing to remember is that rejection does not mean failure. It should be treated as an opportunity to learn and perhaps approach the next application differently.
Elvis Presley, the Beatles and even Kanye West were rejected by record labels before they became famous. Bill Gates was turned away by more than 1 200 companies before he became a billionaire.
So, keep trying. Your job is out there.
Fred Razak is the chief trading strategist at CM Trading