Never have I ever seen such a surge in people searching for employment in South Africa. Covid-19 has certainly pushed us into unprecedented times, and now more than ever, we need to make sure we have our A-game in place when searching for work. Here are a few of my TOP TIPS if you are looking for a new opportunity – either through choice or because you have been forced to.
Tip #1 Job hunting IS a full time job
Some of my clients have expressed that they have applied for a few positions, but have not received a single response. Seeing as employment is as competitive as it has ever been; you need to treat finding a job AS a job. That means plugging in a good eight hours or so into the process. No, this is not a joke. It is not so much about quantity over quality. Which leads me to my next point…
Tip #2 Be strategic
When searching for a job role, DO NOT (I repeat), PLEASE DO NOT apply for every single job – even if it is slightly related to what you can do.
Scrutinise the Job Description in detail. ONLY (I repeat), ONLY apply for the position if you meet ALL the critical requirements. If you do not meet all the desired requirements – that is alright. But you will still need to substantiate why you should be awarded the role over someone that ticks all the boxes.
What else can you bring to the table?
What unique transferrable skills, talents or connections do you have that could make you more effective in the role?
Tip #3 Think like a business owner
You need to get into the shoes of your prospective employer and understand the problem THEY are trying to solve. Part of being a business owner (or at least a Management Head) is having some understanding of sales and negotiation. The person hiring wants to recruit for the lowest cost with highest return (ROI). Now – this is not about coming in the cheapest (and if that is your strategy it is going to flop). DON’T aim to be the cheapest; prove to be the most worthwhile investment with the highest returns. How? Refer back to Tip #2.
Tip #4 Have a thorough grasp of your USP (Unique Selling Point)
“Why should I hire you?”
What is your answer to this typical question? Why? Do you even know? Do a self-audit, and ask your friends and family:
-What are my strengths?
-What am I really good at?
-What am I not good at?
-What do you think of when you think of me?
-Nominate five words to describe me? Why?
If you want something a little bit more precise, consider completing a psychometric assessment – even something light to tap those soft skills. If you are interested, Holistan offers psychometric assessments as part of our personal branding packages (more here).
If you have done psychometric assessments in the past (bonus if they are not older than 18 months), dig up those old reports and read them with a fresh set of eyes, paying attention to your key areas of strength.
Tip#4 Understand the competencies desired
Hard skills are easy to recognise; either you have a degree in Financial Management or not. But what about soft skills that are nominated as critical requirements in that job role? What do they really mean? Look them up in the dictionary or Google a competency if you are not sure. Then use those same key words used in the JD (Job Description) in your CV, cover letter and language during the interview process.
These key words are especially important to reflect in your CV, because 90% of the time, if you are applying through a job post, your CV will be screened first by bots (or ATS – Applicant Tracking System). If the keywords the software is searching for is not there, your CV will not even reach human eyes.
I’ve personally programmed JD’s on the back-end for clients, and programmed automated emails for the plethora of unsuccessful candidates who will not meet the criteria – at least on paper.
Employers are looking for the perfect match. Even if you do not possess a desired competency, mention the key word (for example, “a keen interest toward developing leadership skills”) will at least pick up that keyword.
Tip#5 Have a multi-pronged approach
Most job ads will appear on the big sites (think Pnet, Career Junction or Careers24). By the way, there are TONS of Job Portals on the net, but these are the ones I am personally most familiar with when scouting for talent. You are going to have to set aside some time in uploading your data onto each site. My advice? Pick two to three sites, and after you have got a kick-ass CV, copy and paste the data from this word document onto the portal. It will save some time, and once it is done, it is done. It is worth the effort – and it is free.
Once you have done the above, connect with recruiters. Again – nominate one to three to connect with. A good recruiter will generally call you in for a screening interview, and then will put your CV onto their books. If you need some introductions to some incredible recruiters, get in touch with me. Generally recruiters will specialise in certain industries, so I will be able to do a match for you.
Tip#6 Be careful if you need to pay!
Any reputable recruiter or job portal will not require any money from you – the cost for finding talent is for the client’s account. Do not get swindled out of your cash if you are made promises for a small deposit. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Tip#7 Contracting someone to write your CV
This is a tricky business. Take it from the mouth of a CV specialist who writes CVs for professionals – first prize is to write your CV yourself. You are the expert on your work history, and your written language should reflect your spoken words. However, you may not have the time or expertise when it comes to writing and designing a compelling, ATS aligned CV.
If you are going to hire a CV writer, PLEASE keep this in mind: It is NOT about the design of the CV. I have seen way too many CV writers who are in fact graphic designers, looking to create a pretty looking CV. Yes of course it is a bonus if your CV is eye-catching, but that is only a nice-to-have. Consider a CV writer who has experience in HR or similar fields, who knows about how this art works. Ask for testimonials, and examples of their work.
You can check out our offering here.
Tip#8 Be pleasant and courteous. Always.
Many candidates complain that they are fed up when they do not receive any feedback from a recruiter. Although of course it is best practice for a recruiter to get back to their candidates, realise they are working with literally thousands of CVs, and there is simply not enough time in the day to provide every single person with feedback. Saying that – do not be shy to ask about areas of improvement, or if the prospective employer had any feedback on your application or interview. But please remember your manners too!
As our commitment to you, the job-seeker, we have compiled an entire job-hunting guide to support you during this time. If you need some professional CV templates to work with, we have also made this available to you – ALL ABSOLUTELY FREE! Click here for more.
However, if you are in a position to contract our services, please pop us a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on 010 312 6790. Or visit our website here.
Best wishes for your job search!
Marzenna Almendro (Registered Psychometrist and founder of Holistan)
Our contributors collectively boast a wealth of experience in assessments, HR, organisational development, change management and more!