How to find in a job in tough economic times

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The coronavirus has made the search for work harder, but not impossible.
The coronavirus has made the search for work harder, but not impossible.
Drazen Zigic/ Getty Images

Job hunting can be stressful at the best of times – and where we are now is certainly not the best of times.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the economy to its knees and resulted in severe job losses, as companies either go under or make massive budget cuts in an effort to survive. This means looking for a job is more challenging than ever.

If you’re a job seeker wondering whether it’s even worth applying amidst the doom and gloom, don’t lose hope, says Simon Royston managing director at The Recruitment Lab.

“The most important thing is to be patient,” Royston says. “The current lockdown means timelines for job seekers are undetermined. What might have been a fortnight of job searching has turned into six weeks.”

Many companies are also rethinking their work structure and now expect of candidates to be equipped to work remotely.

Times are changing, Margot van Graan, managing member at MVG Recruitment says, and it’s important your approach to job hunting keeps up.

The best approach, she says, is a combination of your own effort and working with a recruitment agency.

The agency advantage

Agencies source staff based on job requisitions they receive and the downturn in the economy means agencies have less jobs available.

“But working through a recruitment agency does have an advantage in that the agency has an established relationship with the client,” Van Graan explains. “So therefore, they would know what a company is looking for and can guide you in shaping your application.”

“Good recruiters will open doors for you,” says Alexis Kitchen of Afrizan Personnel in Joburg.

“A good recruiter will be your representative and your guide – formatting your CV, preparing

you for interviews, and providing career advice. A good recruiter can be indispensable in your professional journey.”

There’s no cost to join a recruitment agency – employers pay the agency when they find recruits

for them. It is in fact illegal for recruitment agencies to charge any fees, Kitchen notes.

It’s important to do your research before joining an agency, says Celeste Stewart, director

of Bold Curiosity. “Find out what their track record is – you have the right to be selective.”

You need to be clear on what your goals are for your career move so the agency will know exactly

what kind of positions you’re looking for.

“Recruitment agencies will have a large database of clients and have access to a number of jobs that may not be advertised,” Tamara Wolpert of Viv Gordon Placements says. “The recruitment agency will also provide added value by being able to guide you from a career perspective.

“Recruitment agencies don’t create jobs, but will facilitate the process of your being put forward

for the job and will handle the interview process by providing you with feedback.”

Lorna O’Brien of O’Brien Recruitment recommends trying to develop relationships with a few recruiters in the course of your career.

“This way they can track your career and when you’re looking to move, they will be familiar with what has happened in the last few years,” she says. “Stay in touch with people and keep the relationships current, even when you don’t need them.”

Your own efforts

Apart from an agency, you should also keep searching for advertised opportunities through career portals like Career Junction, Careers24 and PNet.

Most reputable agencies sign up to career portals to source active candidates on the site.

“So yes, be online. Use the career portals,” Van Graan says. “In these times I would say you can’t only use one avenue. The combined effort will be more advantageous than trying one avenue.”

Royston urges hopefuls to use social media to their advantage.

“Search on various Facebook communities. You’d be surprised how many small businesses post job adverts on these platforms,” he says. “These are less expensive avenues for advertisers.”

He also suggests putting out feelers with family and friends. “Perhaps they know of someone who needs help and can put in a good word for you. Or they can put you in contact with a possible employer.”

Remember your network – it’s important to try every possible angle.

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