Job hunting tips for new graduates in an ever-changing job market

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  • Due to the pandemic, graduates may face a very different job marketplace from the one they had originally envisioned.
  • Dr Rufaro Mavunga says graduates must now, more than ever, "be creative and intentional in their job search". 
  • She shares advice on adapting to the new job market, creating a CV, building your network, and managing expectations. 

The pandemic has changed the way we do many things. For university students who entered their tertiary career right before Covid-19, letting go of social activities and navigating the world of online learning was a unique challenge that many probably thought they would not have to deal with.

And as they now set out into the world, they may face a very different job marketplace from the one they had originally envisioned.

Dr Rufaro Mavunga, Head of Programme: Law Faculty at The Independent Institute of Education, says graduates must now, more than ever, "be creative and intentional in their job search". 

She shares advice on making the job-hunting process a little easier.

Preparing your CV

"If you are a recent graduate who has never worked a day in your life, writing a CV and a cover letter may seem like a daunting and intimidating task. There is, however, so much information available on so many platforms such as recruitment websites that provide tips on how to write a winning CV," Dr Mavunga says. 

Carefully read the job description of the position you are applying for and identify the required skills and experience so that you can make sure your application aligns with these.

It may also be necessary to tweak your CV for different applications, making sure to highlight the skills you possess that may be suited to each job.  

"It is helpful to list the requirements and refer back to this list as you write your resume," she says.

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CV aesthetic

While the contents of your CV are essential, the aesthetic also plays a part.  

"Graduates are advised to use a simple format as complicated page layouts can be hard for applicant tracking systems to handle. Graduates should also carefully consider if everything they have included in a CV is actually necessary. 

"At all times graduates should attempt to put their best foot forward by avoiding typos and grammatical errors that detract from the overall presentation. And priority should be given to quality over quantity to stand out from other applicants," she explains.

Speculative job applications

Although many jobs are currently advertised online, graduates should not neglect speculative applications. 

"Speculative applications are where you create your own opportunity by reaching out speculatively to organisations, even when they are not advertising.

"So make a list of companies that are of interest to you, research their public relations material and then reach out. Think outside the box to make your approach stand out from the rest!"

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Build your network

Building a solid network is also important and could potentially enhance graduate employability. 

"Social networking is defined as the use of internet-based social media sites to stay connected with friends, family, colleagues, customers, or clients. Social networking can have a social purpose, or a professional purpose, or both, through various sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Creating a strong and professional presence on social media may link you with information and opportunities that can assist in the job search process," Dr Mavunga says. 

Social networks allow you to connect with people you may not normally encounter. 

"Always remember that employers often look at a candidate's social media platforms to measure whether a particular candidate would be a good fit for their company -- so post accordingly. Graduates should focus on making their social media platforms employer friendly and perhaps remove any posts that could be a cause of concern for a potential employer."

ALSO READ | 'I'm a black woman and changed my name on my CV to a white man's. Here's what happened'

Manage expectations

Many first-time job seekers have a vision of what they think their first job should look like but in the current climate, not all graduates will be so lucky to have that vision realised, at least maybe not immediately, and it might be necessary to shift expectations. 

"For instance, while you might have had your heart set on a full-time job with full benefits, it might be time to consider a six-month internship or fellowship or possibly seek out and take on contracting jobs. The key is to be flexible, realistic, as well as knowledgeable about career options."

The job search can be daunting at times, and it's easy to lose hope, but graduates should try to remain positive and develop patience and persistence to increase their chances of finding employment. 

"Job search fatigue after searching unsuccessfully is a reality, but remaining positive and putting in the necessary effort will pay off in the long run. Graduates should look for ways to be positive in the face of the negative. Building that skill will come in handy throughout your career," she says.

Source: Issued by Meropa Communications on behalf of The Independent Institute of Education.

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