Like many other South Africans, you may have lost your job as the coronavirus ripped through the country.
In a recent survey by Stats SA, 70% of those who lost their jobs said it was due to their place of work or business shutting down or due to the lack of customers.
Being without work is daunting, a loss that affects your whole life – from your ability to put food on the table to taking care of your family and your personal career goals come to a screaming halt.
“If you have lost your job, the obvious reaction is normally not a positive one. There are a wave of emotions that start to flood in and choices that need to be made but, career-wise, this doesn’t have to mean the end of the road,” says Kerry Morris, a business manager at recruitment firm Michael Page Africa. “Recovery is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ and now is as better time than ever to review your skill sets, plug the gaps and ready yourself for the rebound,” Morris adds.
Here’s how to remain on top of your game in the employment arena as you navigate the job market.
MAKE YOUR MATCH
When updating your CV, boost its effectiveness where possible by:
- Listing your key achievements as part of your most recent experiences.
- Making sure the first word of every bullet point under your responsibilities and achievements include an action word (e.g. “led” instead of “responsible for”).
- Listing your achievements in a problem-solution impact format .
“Each industry has its own nuances and following a standard approach of creating a CV and sending applications in all likelihood will not be sufficient to stand out – make sure you know the etiquette in the industry or company you’re sending your CV to by checking with peers, your recruitment agency or the information that is on their website and, above all, ensure you are relevant for the role you are applying for. You have a much better chance of getting a response when your skill set and experience match those of the role you are applying for (not just saying to yourself, if they teach me I can do it). You will also save yourself the heartache of 10’s of applications without a single response,” Morris says.
If you don’t get the job you applied for, make a quick call or send an email to ask why, you could learn some valuable lessons to take forward with you.
ACCESS YOUR CURRENT SKILLS
“After the initial shock of losing your job, it’s important to assess the skill set you’ve acquired over the years,” Morris suggests.
She says to ask yourself: what skills have I picked up so far? Which ones are transferable to a next role? What do I still lack?
To get a good overall idea of your skills, break them up into these categories:
Hybrid skills Skills that combine both hard and soft skills, like customer service, for example.
Transferable skills skills that apply to any job, no matter the level or industry, such as problem-solving, teamwork or communication.
Job-specific skills are skills that apply only to certain positions and/or levels.
Use job listings to help you identify where your skills can improve.
“If you are having trouble identifying the skills gap, one trick is to pay attention to descriptions in job postings. If you are a programmer and there is a coding language that a job description specifies, then you have just found a job-specific skill set you want to brush up on,” Morris says.
You can also look outside of our industry, based on your skills.
For example, if you’ve been a marketing assistant in the tourism industry and are battling to find work in that industry, try other industries – almost all have a marketing department.
“Take some time to observe where your industry is heading and consider the complementary skill sets you need to enhance your effectiveness or add value to the work.
For example, technical accounting, project management and proficiency in fintech systems are all skills that are in high demand, especially within financial services,” Morris says.
SHOW YOU’RE AN ASSET
If you got the interview and it comes time for you to ask any questions, ask this one – it’s sure to impress your potential employer, according to JT O’Donnell, CEO of career growth website Work it Daily:
“What is the company's biggest threat to success this year, and how will I be able to help overcome this threat in this role?”
You can then hopefully draw on your skill set or previous experience or aspirations to provide them with input on how you can be an asset.
KEEP UP WITH EMPLOYMENT & INDUSTRY TRENDS
This means staying in touch with those in the know.
“Call a friend, lean in to your existing network, talk to mentors and those inside and outside your industry. This helps because staying within the same company can be an isolating experience and reaching out broadens your knowledge, perspective and opportunities,” Morris says.
Or simply do online research. A quick google search, for example, found two of the top hiring sectors at the moment are grocery stores and logistics and jobs in customer service, warehousing, packaging, accounting and healthcare are still in demand, according to jobs website, adzuna.co.za.
Nowadays, what you can find on a computer, you can find on your phone. Many job vacancy portals have apps you can download, or simply visit their websites from your phone.
You can then also take advantage of tools such as the Careers24’s Job Alert tool that sends jobs directly to your email once you set it up.
Ensure your email is set up on your phone too so you can always be reached.
Also online are a large variety of online courses – a great way to up your skill level based on demand. Many courses are free or low in cost.
“Consider short courses, such as specialised certificates, that are aligned closely to developing trends within your specific sector. If there are hardware- or software-related skills in hot demand, there are even free online tutorials that will teach you how to operate them,” Morris says.
Diarise daily and weekly action points on your way to job success.
Dedicate specific time for online job hunting, networking and research.
- If you’re with a recruitment agency, call or email them to let them know what is new in your career and outline your future goals.
- Track your activity with a list of jobs you’ve applied for and at which companies. Include their contact details and action points, such as following up or a reminder to yourself what to go back to in a few weeks’ or months’ time.
- Keep your mental-health game strong. Do various activities – some of them could even lead to a job opportunity – like volunteering at a charity, helping someone in your community, exercising, eating well and having a good support system.